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Shapes of Shelter

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

In a world where notions of identity and belonging are in constant flux, the collaborative exhibition, "Shapes of Shelter," stands as a testament to the power of art to explore the concept of "Safe Space." Originating from the feminist and queer movements of the 1960s in the USA, the term "Safe Space" has evolved to represent places where marginalized individuals can find solace, unity, and a sense of belonging, away from the confines of the prevailing societal norms.

In contemporary society, Safe Spaces play a pivotal role in identity politics. The exhibition "Shapes of Shelter" brings together the talents of two multi-media artists, Maria Mbereshu from Namibia and Janina Totzauer from Germany, who explore and create their own unique "Safe Space" within The Project Room gallery over several weeks. Their collaboration delves into their shared colonial past and the distinct experiences of being women from different global hemispheres. The textile patterns they create on-site serve as a canvas for a bidirectional conversation, conveying the shared history of colonialism and the unique perspectives of these artists. Symbolic protection rituals and talismans find their way into the fabric, culminating in a massive, meaningful carpet. The walls are adorned with Totzauer's "Isles of Exile," small multifunctional tents that provide viewers with secret places of escapism. Mbereshu's abstract textile patterns, on the other hand, draw inspiration from her experiences as a woman, celebrating the beauty of womanhood in all its forms.

The residency and artists' time together will run in The Project Room from November 21 to December 6, and is open to daily visitors from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm. Within the residency work time the exhibition officially opens on November 29, and can be visited way into February, offering ample time for the public to experience the transformative artworks.

On the evening of December 6 at 18h00, "Shapes of Shelter" will offer attendees the opportunity to engage with three remarkable speakers in an event called Intimate Carpet. Hermien Elago, Adriano Visagie, and Natache Iilonga, all pioneering figures in the LGBTQIA+ movement and advocates for equal rights, will share their current projects and perspectives.

To round off the evening there will be a premier screening of Naomi Beukes-Meyer short film Scarlet Ribbon.

About the artists:

Maria Mbereshu, born in 1984 in Uvhungu-Vhungu, Rundu, Kavango Region, Namibia, is a multi-media artist with a Higher Diploma in Visual Arts from the University of Namibia. Her work, rooted in symbols from her Sambyu culture and everyday life, explores abstract shapes and the domestic sphere. Mbereshu's artwork has graced exhibitions both locally and internationally, including the NAGN Education, Arts, and Culture Conference Exhibition in 2022 and the Percil Forest Munich's "To the Land II" group exhibition in 2022.

Janina Totzauer, born in Munich, Germany in 1988, is a German media artist with a diverse educational background that has shaped her artistic vision. Her work, inspired by cross-cultural and interspecies research, has been exhibited internationally, including venues in Venice, Istanbul, and Cape Town. Her videos, "Omega to Alpha" and "Into Ur," draw inspiration from death rituals in Mozambique and Germany. In 2021, Totzauer was awarded the BBK's Debutant Prize and the City of Munich's Visual Arts Scholarship. The "Shapes of Shelter" exhibition is a testament to the power of art in creating spaces where diverse perspectives can converge, engage, and inspire. It serves as a reminder that even in a world filled with complexities, art has the ability to weave stories of unity, understanding, and shared experiences. Maria Mbereshu and Janina Totzauer invite you to explore their unique "Safe Space" and engage with the thought-provoking discourse they have crafted in The Project Room.

View catalogue here.

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