Black Land – Performing Memory: Performances and Installations at the James-Simon-Galerie and Neues Museum on 21 and 23 July 2022

Museumsinsel Berlin

Black Land is a series of performances and installations representing an attempt to remember records and artefacts from ancient Egypt and to make the knowledge they store fruitful for our present time. Papyri from Elephantine (an island on the Nile), text fragments and objects of various origins become witnesses and protagonists in equal measure. What stories do the ancient texts tell us? Who is speaking to whom? Who is remembering? Can we collectively remember something for which there is no language, and what do the texts’ knowledge mean today?

“Performing [a] Memory” is an endeavour to draw lines of tradition back into a past that remains largely untapped. Do we share common ground when remembering, while viewing the past from multiple perspectives? What do we understand in Europe today about ancient Egypt? Dismember Remember.

Launch of the Project at the James-Simon-Galerie and Neues Museum

Black Land brings together interdisciplinary and international artistic perspectives related to this subject. Artist Zorka Wollny kicks off the project with a performance of her Polyphonic Choir in the public space in front of the James-Simon-Galerie. Inside, in the auditorium, visitors can experience an installation by sound artist Yara Mekawei. From there, the performative installation Black Land can be followed through the James-Simon-Galerie and the Neues Museum. The installation tours the spaces of the two museums, making texts from Elephantine audible and accessible. Participants stop briefly in front of selected objects and in the Neues Museum’s Greek Courtyard for live presentations, before Black Land concludes in the Niobiden Hall, where the papyri from Elephantine can be viewed in display cases.

After having been studied by Prof Dr Verena Lepper and her team as part of the European Research Council (ERC) project ELEPHANTINE, these papyri are for the first time now finding application in an artistic setting, thereby also marking the conclusion of the ERC project.

Participating Actors and Musicians

The installation and performance features actresses Lea Draeger and Kenda Hmeidan, musicians Charles Hedger and Anabelle Iratni, and musician, singer and performer Attila Csihar. The project was developed by Csihar together with artistic director Elena Sinanina. The contributions by Yara Mekawei and Zorka Wollny were curated by Oliver Baurhenn (CTM Festival).

Concept and artistic direction: Elena Sinanina; scenography: Inga Aleknavicuite; costumes: Karin Merten (Bühnenservice Berlin) based on designs by Elena Sinanina; composition “Black Land”: Charles Hedger, Attila Csihar; composition “Isolde’s Transfiguration” after Richard Wagner: Roman Lemberg; dramaturgy: Rabelle Ramez; dramaturgy of Outside View: Maria Buzhor; curatorial consultation: Verena Lepper; dialogue partners for Egypt: Walaa El Shazly, Kerylos Aziz; sound design: Christopher von Nathusius; project management: Anne Diestelkamp; organisation in Egypt: Ahmed Adel; graphic design: Ada Favaron


Black Land – Performing Memory takes place on Thursday, 21 July 2022, from 8 to 11 pm, and on Saturday, 23 July 2022, from 6 to 10 pm. Tickets are available for 16 euros, reduced 11 euros, via the CTM Festival shop.

Sponsors and Cooperation

A project by Elena Sinanina, Attila Csihar and ensemble, funded by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds (Capital Culture Funds) in cooperation with the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection) – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the CTM Festival and the silent green Kulturquartier.

With the kind support of Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, Zelfo Technology GmbH and the LEIPA Group. The second part of the performance and installation takes place on 28 and 29 October 2022 at the silent green Kulturquartier.