Königsplatz, photo: Michael Nast

While Olu Oguibe’s project in Athens, The Biafra Time Capsule (2017), deals with an archive of the human tragedy of the Biafra War (1967–70), his work in Kassel refers to a critical humanitarianism toward victims of war in general. Reaffirming the timeless, universal principles of care for all under persecution and for all that have had to seek refuge, his project takes the monumental form of an obelisk placed on Königsplatz with an inscribed text in four languages. Das Fremdlinge und Flüchtlinge Monument (2017) takes its cue from Oguibe’s experiences as a child who survived the Biafra War, which claimed the lives of some two million civilians in just thirty months.

Königsplatz—constructed in 1767 and named after Landgrave Friedrich von Hessen-Kassel (1676–1751), also the King of Sweden—is often a site of assembly, festivities, and political demonstrations; for example, the protest in 2015 about the living conditions of refugees. It is also where Goethe was famously refused a hotel room when he arrived there one night because he first spoke French to the innkeeper. Oguibe’s obelisk on this site is a repudiation of the anti-immigrant bigotry that certain world leaders and their followers have been fanning around the world lately, and an acknowledgment of the life-saving hospitality and refuge which others have offered to counter this bigotry. The work evokes and materializes the current crisis of humanity, and is a call for action.

Posted in Public Exhibition