Nolan Oswald Dennis
No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram)

Opening: Thursday, 8 Dec 2022, 6–9 pm

In Nolan Oswald Dennis’s No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram), a diagram traces the non-linear account of the terrible historical negotiation between antagonistic readings of the meaning and significance of colonial compensation. Readings that oscillate between notions of repair and punishment, healing and trauma, payment and silence, memorialisation and forgetting, forgiveness and guilt. These ideas are parsed through a network of complementary systems, such as dreams; dignity; memory; ecology; embodied trauma; representation and the metaphysics of healing.  The diagram is shown as a mind map wallpaper in the tradition of the map room, where the wall map functions as a critical backdrop for a certain kind of world-thinking. Here the diagram wallpaper inscribes a mindmap room, where a certain kind of world-thinking is possible which operates in the in-betweens of these difficult questions.  Extending the idea of the map room, the wallpaper is fitted with a series of shelves each carrying a different indexical object of world-thinking (eg, books, maps, rocks, etc); pinned onto of the wallpaper is a series of drawings and notes engaging the symbolic structure of compensation, and finally an industrial step ladder sits in the space in front of the wall, a gesture of access, labor, and construction.

CCA Berlin is pleased to present this work by Johannesburg-based artist Nolan Oswald Dennis for the first time in Germany, at a time during which the country grapples with the return and restitution of cultural property to formerly colonized states, as well as historical historical compensation pertaining to the Ovaherero and Nama and San genocide waged by the German Empire in 1904. No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram) thus invites us to tend to the particularities and limitations of memory work in Germany and its legal, ethical, and political implications.

This exhibition is generously supported by Goodman Gallery and the Goethe-Institut Südafrika.

A conversation between the artist and scholars Edna Bonhomme and Zoé Samudzi will be held at the space from 7-8.30pm during the opening.


Nolan Oswald Dennis, No Conciliation is Possible (working diagram) (2022), Installation view, CCA Berlin, 2022. Photo: Diana Pfammatter

Nolan Oswald Dennis (b. 1988, Zambia) is a para-disciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. Their practice explores what they call ‘a black consciousness of space’: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization. Dennis’ work questions the politics of space (and time) through a system-specific, rather than site-specific approach.Their work has been featured in exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo (Paris),  Auto Italia South East (London), the Young Congo Biennale (Kinshasa), and FRONT Triennial (Cleveland) among others. They are a founding member of the artist group NTU, as well as the Index Literacy Program, a collaborative research group compiling new theory for our indexical present. They are a research-associate at the VIAD research center at the University of Johannesburg.

CCA Berlin’s 2022 program, organized under the title of Pilot, is envisioned as the institution’s exhibitionary testing ground. It will unfold through individual presentations of existing works by artists. Pilot aims to highlight and revisit works that are significant to the development of CCA Berlin and thereby draw a curatorial blueprint for the institution’s future collaborations and aesthetic enquiries. So far, and since February of this year, the works of Charlotte Posenenske, Hanne Lippard, He Xiangyu, Kent Chan, Steffani Jemison and Justin Hicks, Fedir Tetyanych (with Nikita Kadan and Working Room), and Women’s History Museum have been presented as part of Pilot.