The University of Bayreuth hands over estate of the founder of the Iwalewahaus to partner-institution in Nigeria
University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 022/2020, 14 February 2020
On February 18, 2020, Dr. Ulf Vierke, the director of the Iwalewahaus of the University of Bayreuth, will present the Center for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), in the Nigerian city of Oshogbo a truly unique collection: an archive comprising approximately 40,000 objects from the estate of Iwalewahaus founder Ulli Beier and his wife Georgina Beier. The objects form a unique repository, which in its many facets reflects both the everyday life of people in Nigeria and the new African art that developed there.
The date of the ceremony is 18 February 2020:
The hand-over the estate of Ulli Beier and Georgina Beier to Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the chairman of the board of trustees of the CBCIU, begins at 11 a.m. It will be combined with a keynote address on the history of the Iwalewahaus, which has been a fixture since 1981, and the opening of an exhibition in the CBCIU. The function will draw to a close at 3 p.m.
Georgina Beier (left) and Ulli Beier (right) at the Oshogbo Honor Awards in 1992. Photo: DEVA / Iwalewahaus.
Ulli Beier, language and cultural ambassador, and Georgina Beier, visual artist, lived in Nigeria for extended periods between the 1950s and 1970s, and during this time began to document the culture and society of Nigeria alongside their own scientific and artistic work. This resulted in an extensive collection of photographs, negatives, slides, text documents, and personal notes. From 2012 to 2018, all objects in the collection at the Iwalewahaus were taken up, digitized, and documented in their thematic and biographical contexts in cooperation with the CBCIU. The German Research Foundation (DFG) funded this work as part of the DEVA project (Digitization, Electronic Editing and Making Available of African Studies Data). Now that the digitization work has been completed, the archive is going back to Oshogbo, the city where Ulli and Georgina lived for several years. There, the originals - just like the digitized copies in Bayreuth - are set to become a source of scholarly and artistic debate, and thus nurture dialogue connecting the two continents.
View of the river Oshun in the Sacred Grove of the deity of the same name, Oshogbo, with sculptures by Buraimoh Gbadamosi (left) and Saka (right), around 1960. Photo: DEVA / Iwalewahaus.
At the same time as the solemn handover, CBCIU will open the exhibition "Existential Phantasies - the monkey on your shoulder". It offers insights into the artistic work and the cultural commitment of Ulli and Georgina Beier, and at the same time depicts their personal search for a "new home". The city of Oshogbo in Nigeria played a central role in this search for belonging. The cultural concepts and life script of the couple were shaped by their experiences in Nigeria, and they continued to exert an influence many years later when they lived in Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Germany. The exhibition was conceived and curated in 2016 by Katharina Greven, an employee of the Iwalewahaus. In Oshogbo, Lena Naumann and Alexandra Kuhnke, also employees of the Iwalewahaus, are responsible for curating the exhibition.
On the occasion of the handover of the archive in the CBCIU, Dr. Ulf Vierke will give a keynote address on the topic "Of MashUps and Fluid Ontologies. Four decades of Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth, Germany". It deals with the question of how a collection of modern art can today be seen as part of a common global heritage and used productively. The lecture will deal with both the forms of curatorial work and considerations for close future collaboration between the CBCIU in Oshogbo and the Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth. This includes in particular an intensive scholarly exchange as well as trainee programmes in the field of archive and museum work, some of which have already been implemented.
Information about the history of the Iwalewahaus:
Homepage of the Center for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU):
Katharina Greven Dipl. M.A.
Iwalewahaus of the University of Bayreuth - Research Associate
Phone: +49 (0)921 55 4503
Dr. Ulf Vierke
Iwalewahaus of the University of Bayreuth - Management
University of Bayreuth
Universitätsstr. 30 / ZUV
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356