Nomaduma Rosa Masilela: Strange Attractors

Zofia Klajs, Strange Attractors, 2018, acrylic on paper, digitally modified (poster), courtesy Zofia Klajs, © Zofia Klajs

Strange Attractors is a curatorial publication project by Nomaduma Rosa Masilela, which unites artist contributions and archival material. It is an exercise in uncertainty and a search for analogue strategies of opacity. The projects within Strange Attractors engage with notions of cosmology, relationality, and scale; they reflect how our unstable personal cosmologies and ever-evolving epistemologies are the result of the tenuous ties that bind our relations. Strange Attractors (both a publication and a room) is a reach for connection and an acknowledgement of the discreet gestures that go unnoticed but nevertheless have strangely indiscreet reverberations. Please enjoy both.

With contributions by: Adrijana and Kristina Gvozdenović; Audre Lorde; Beau H. Rhee with Christophe Kihm and Dr. Myungchull Rhee; Devin Kenny; Isaiah Lopaz; Joelle Mercedes; Mame-Diarra Niang; Mattie Brice, Robin Yang and Jen Aprahamian; Mildred Thompson; Octavia Butler; Patrice Renee Washington; Rosa Luxemburg; and Temitayo Ogunbiyi.

The publication was designed by Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Zofia Klajs. The wallpaper of the reading room was designed by Ebba Fransén Waldhör, courtesy Ebba Fransén Waldhör, KARL DIETZ VERLAG BERLIN/Herbarium Rosa Luxemburg. The project is indebted to Gabi Ngcobo, Jeanette Gogoll, and Yvette Mutumba.

Copies of Strange Attractors are available at Berlin Biennale bookshops throughout the 10th Berlin Biennale as well as on our online shop.


Referat Na Temu: Slijedimo se vašim sjajnim Primjerom (pages 14-24)
Adrijana Gvozdenović is an artist who notes, talks, writes, and collects. She is interested in anecdotal and peripheral art, the conventions of exhibition making, artists’ motivations, and responsibility in the general context of art and art-related politics. She is part of a.pass research center in Brussels, BE, and works for ISU – Institute of Contemporary Art Montenegro in Cetinje, ME.

Kristina Gvozdenović holds a masters in Japanese sociolinguistics, with a focus on the relationship between language, gender, and culture. She participated in a discourse analysis study group at the Kanto Gakuin University in Yokohama, JP, after finishing her studies. Her interests are the semantic aspects of mind and language, as well as discursive forms and cognitive components of cultures. She lives and works in Podgorica, ME.


June 21, 1984, Berlin (page 53)
Audre Lorde (1934–1992) was one of the most significant Black American writers, feminists/womanists, and activists of the twentieth century. Her poems and prose largely deal with issues related to civil rights, feminism, and the exploration of black female identity. She was a dedicated teacher and formed coalitions and sisterhoods with Afro-German, Afro-Dutch, and South African women as well as women from Saint Croix. She was a cofounder of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. She published poetry, fiction, journals, and essays, including The Cancer Journals (1980), Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982), and Sister Outsider (1984).


Horizon Dot Series (I-V) and others (pages 69-87)
Beau H. Rhee is an artist, designer, and educator. Her studio Atelier de Geste is based on gesture and body-space concepts extending into various media: performance, drawing, objects, scent, textiles. Collaborative work grounds the studio in social practice, and haptic material experiences connect the body to the senses, the eco- system, and space. She is an adjunct professor at Parsons School of Design in New York, US, and lives in New York.

Christophe Kihm is a professor at the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD – Genève) in Geneva, CH.

Dr. Myungchull Rhee is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the College of Bioscience and Biotechnology at Chungnam National University in Daejeon, KR.


NE2C (No es tu culpa) (pages 211-216)
Devin Kenny is an interdisciplinary artist, musician, and independent curator. He often makes work that exists online, adopting tropes of social media in order to examine and subvert power structures. He produces popular music that refers to art and its history. Hailing from the south side of Chicago, US, he relocated to New York, US, to study at Cooper Union, then to Los Angeles, US, to complete his MFA at the University of California, and is currently based in Houston, US.


Wallpaper, Strange Attractors, 3 ½ at KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Ebba Fransén Waldhör is an artist and designer based in Berlin. Her research-based practice revolves around the social and cultural implications of the materiality and language of textiles. She also develops spatial concepts for live performances, collaborating with other artists and writers.


T-Shirt Diarist (pages 159-189)
Isaiah Lopaz is a writer and artist born in Los Angeles, US, and based in Berlin, DE. Through collage, photography, and “curated conversations,” his work explores race and racism, African and Afro-Diasporic histories, and the lived experiences of people who identify as both Black and Queer. He is currently hard at work on a play titled Things that Rhyme in English Don’t Rhyme in German. He recently relocated to Brussels, BE.


Several Collisions in an Origin: I become the whale, I wail (pages 124-139)
Joelle Mercedes is an Afro descendiente del Bronx. He is a multimedia artist with a focus on collage, video, sound, performance, and molding. His work is committed to unpacking and reframing origins, through the manipulation of non-linear narrative, facades, environments, time, food, and improvisation. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), US, as a merit scholar and currently lives and works in Chicago, US.


Dolorosa (pages 57-67)
Mame-Diarra Niang is a self-taught artist and photographer. She was raised between Ivory Coast, Senegal, and France. Her work explores the thematic of the “plasticity of territory.” Niang recently conducted a residency titled Black Hole at the fifth-floor space of Stevenson Johannesburg, ZA. The residency took the form of a “laboratory” in which she explored this term using video as a medium and as a research tool. She currently lives in Paris, FR.


Destroy All Men (pages 191-205)
Mattie Brice is a New York-based play and games designer, critic, and queer activist. She experiments with narrative and experience in games (digital and analogue), and works to break the system-logic of games. She cofounded the Queerness and Games Conference.

Robin Yang is a product manager and design researcher based in San Francisco, US, who makes games, interactive books, paper flower bouquets, and websites.

Jen Aprahamian is a full-stack developer and engineer, occasional novelist, and member of the General Assembly teaching faculty in Los Angeles, US.


A Female Landscape (pages 28-52)
Mildred Thompson (1936–2003) was a prolific American artist who created abstract paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures. During her career she also made significant contributions to the fields of creative writing and journalism, filmmaking, music and digital media. She was also a devoted educator. She was born in Jacksonville, US, studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C., US, later the Brooklyn Museum Art School, and finally the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK), DE. She lived in Washington, D.C., New York, US, Hamburg, Düren, DE, Paris, FR, and ultimately Atlanta, US. Thompson was interested in physics and astronomy, and her practice transcended art world trends and the prevailing narratives prescribed by her generation, race, and gender.


Strange Attractors (pages 10-12; 141-148; 219-221)
Nomaduma Rosa Masilela is an artist, writer, and art historian. She is on the curatorial team of the 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art. She is writing a dissertation on public and performance art of 1980s Dakar in the Art History and Archaeology department of Columbia University in New York, US. Her art interests coverage around ideas of the uncanny, absurd, and dissonant; collective work and strategy; and the ambivalent nature of history and identity production. She was raised in Łódz, PL, and Los Angeles, US, and is now based in Berlin, DE.


Graphic designer of Strange Attractors
Nontsikelelo Mutiti is a Zimbabwe-born interdisciplinary artist and educator. Mutiti holds a diploma in multimedia art from the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts (ZIVA) and an MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven, US, with a concentration in graphic design. Her practice traverses the boundaries of fine art, design, and public engagement. She is interested in the form of the book as a time-based medium that implies sequence and engages the viewer on a physical level. She is currently assistant professor in Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, US.


Journal Entries, 1978 und 1988 (pages 158; 190)
Octavia Butler (1947–2006) was a prolific and widely recognized American writer. Butler was born in Pasadena, US, and studied at Pasadena City College, US, and later at UCLA Extension, Los Angeles, US. While her mother wanted her to become a secretary, Butler persisted in pursuing her writing despite an initial struggle and was eventually awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (“genius grant”). Her novels blend science fiction and African American spiritualism, addressing issues of race, gender, and power. Her lauded publications include a series of novels known as the Patternist-series (1976–1984), Kindred (1979), Parable of the Sower (1993), and Parable of the Talents (1998), among many others.


Unoriginals (pages 93-103)
Patrice Renee Washington is a New York-based artist, originating from Chicago. She received her BFA from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, US, and her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in New York, US. Working primarily in sculpture, her work investigates the construction of identity and self through objects and signifiers.


Selected pages of Herabarium (pages 5-9; 25-27; 54-56; 88-91; 149-156; 207-210; 222-225)
Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) was a Polish- German Marxist theorist, feminist philosopher, economist, anti-war activist, and revolutionary socialist. She was born in Zamość, PL, however the long-standing plaque commemorating her birthplace has recently been removed. In opposition to similarly nationalist policies of the Polish Socialist Party, she cofounded the newspaper Sprawa Robotnicza in 1893. Later she cofounded the anti- war Spartacus League (originally called “Gruppe Internationale”) with Karl Liebknecht and the newspaper Die Rote Fahne during the November Revolution in Germany. She was imprisoned for her political activities, and spent several years in prison, amongst others in Posen and Breslau (1916–18). During this time, she continued to write and illegally publish articles arguing for the proletariat revolution, receiving flowers from visitors and friends.


You will find playgrounds among palm trees (pages 105-122)
Temitayo Ogunbiyi is a visual artist with an interest in creating contemporary channels of communication. She uses a variety of drawing, fabric, collage, and installation techniques to explore botany, human adornment, and pattern—as textile, human habit, and repeated gesture. Ogunbiyi was born in Rochester, US, studied at Princeton University in New Jersey, US, and later received her masters from Columbia University in New York, US. She is currently based in Lagos, NG.


Strange Attractors (Poster); Vergissunsnicht with Nomaduma Rosa Masilela (page 227)
Zofia Klajs is a graphic artist, poster designer, and printmaker based in Warsaw, PL. She is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Graphic Arts of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, PL, and was a Fulbright Visiting Researcher and Kosciuszko Foundation short-term scholar at Parsons School of Design, New York, US. She mines and expands the rich history of Polish poster making, and travels often to share her findings.