Art Lab II

28.11. – 02.12.2016 – Art Lab II, Cologne  


  • Centre for Contemporary Dance (CCD)/ University for Music and Dance Cologne (HfMT)
  • Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the Tropics and Subtropics
  • (ITT) of the Technical University Cologne
  • Faculty of Science and Technology in Errachidia of the University Moulay Ismail (UMI)
  • Polydisciplinary Faculty of Ouarzazate of the University IBN Zohr
  • Practioners from Ahwash Traditional Music & Dance
  • Dindum Members
  • Guests

Elsa Artmann, Abdessamad Balahcen, Mohamed Balahcen, Norbert Dennig, Prof. Dr. Abdellah El Alaoui, Silvia Enis Duarte, Karina Klein, Silke Lichtenberg, Michael Maurissens, Holger Mertin, Linda Madio Ngankeng Epse Kemeni, Boubker Marrouk, Dr. Udo Nehren, Anne-Lene Nöldner, Kenechukwu Albert Okoye, Dr. Claudia Raedig, Nezha Rhondali, Prof. Vera Sander, Svenja Speen, Thea Soti, Yannik Tiemann, Dimitrios Thanos, Prof. Dr. Hsaine Zgou, Jun. Prof. Dr. Martin Zillinger, musicians/practioners Morocco

Observations made during the week of workshops, formal and informal meetings, presentations, collective dance and music jam sessions, contact improvisation and music recordings

The Ahwash group from Agdz consisting of the musicians/dancers Abdessamad Balahcen, Mohamed Balahcen and Boubker Marrouk had to arrive two days later than expected due to visa-problems.

As a result the first official meeting took place without the Ahwash practioners. We gathered in the Centre for Contemporary Dance at the University for Music and Dance Cologne (CCD) and welcomed (together with the members of  ITT – TH Köln) our academic guests from Morocco. Part of the official welcome were representatives of the German NGO Dindum, representatives of German Watch, external german academic guests and several students of the CCD.

At the end of the Art Lab week another open format took place and was open for all project participants as well as guests to show and discuss the findings of the week. The workshops took place in the working spaces of the CCD.

The inter/multi-disciplinary workshop group of around 20 people consisted of heterogenic trained and educated participants from natural sciences, humanities, dance and music. Therefore the first aim was to establish a common kind of working for the group as a whole.

First thoughts to the group – working situation

What makes a person a specialist in a particular field? Does cultural knowledge/identity make a person a specialist?

Are guests from the Moroccan universities specialists in the field of Ahwash although not especially trained in it but rather acknowledged in the field of science such as computer science etc. .

Are people from moroccan/berber background more specialised in regard to Ahwash than people from a different background simply because they belong to and identify with the cultural heritage of Ahwash as part of their tradition? Intuitively it happened that science students from Marocco took over the role of the missing Ahwash musicians and dancers by explaining what Ahwash was, f. ex.  a moroccan computer science student engaged in the role of a mentor and teacher for the German students concerning Moroccan Ahwash music and dance.

Further thoughts

Where and how to start? What are aspects that we have to teach one another in an intercultural academic and non-academic setting? And how do we do that?

Is there interdisciplinarity without defined disciplines/when disciplines start to mengle, dissolve, become fluid?

Do we have to work No-Disciplinary?


After engaging in collective practices like improvisation, showings, sharings and discussions we followed a format suggested by Vera called “I felt…” The participants were asked to write down what thougts come up when starting with this phrase.
This brought up different views and perspectives on identity, group processes, emotions, expectations from inside and outside.

Music recording session in the Mojo Studio Forstmehren

The Moroccan Ahwash musicians and the music students from Cologne went in the studio for a collective semi-improvisational recording. Several hours of music were recorded. The process was also filmed/documented. The overall concept was to document our group-musicianship as an unique ensemble-sound.

Lectures and Presentations in the CCD

Lectures and presentations were performed by Nezha Rondali and Jun. Prof. Dr. Martin Zillinger (ethnologist of University of Cologne). These lectures brought up questions of finding and „living“ identity when going abroad and being outside ones usual cultural context.

Presentations in the ITT

A series of small presentations were facilitated by the students of the Moroccan Universities of Errachidia und Ouarzazate and provided information on aspects of the (historical) background of the berber culture such as architecture, Ahwash-tradition and (folcloric) fashion.

(Holger Mertin)