exhibition Goethe-Institut Nairobi

workshop Agape Hope Children Center

workshop Goethe Institut Nairobi

lecture performance UN headquarters Nairobi

casual commingling Goethe Institut Nairobi


UN.KNOWN SPACES - an artistic investigation of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, New York City and Nairobi and their host communities

UN headquarters Nairobi, 2014

Inspired by the essay "Of Other Spaces" by French philosopher Michel Foucault and the phenomenon "Worlds inside the World", the two Berlin-based artists, Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin, chose to focus on the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, New York, and Nairobi as these "Worlds". From 2011 onwards, they collected a total of 66 interviews from the three headquarters, conducted with a wide spectrum of UN staff and people from the "outside". 
66 stories of everyday life in these three cities and the collective struggle for World Peace are the theme of this walk-in installation. An informal network of images, sounds, texts and objects spans across three continents, demonstrating the proven track record of interplay between individual microcosms and a global organization macrocosm.

After exhibiting the work in Vienna in 2013, the exhibition travels to Nairobi before continuing on to New York City in 2015. 

In each city, the UN.KNOWN SPACES art project is presented in a different format, adapted to the peculiarity of the environment and reflecting its characteristics.
In Vienna, the project was presented as an installation on top of the 150 meter tall Danube Tower, with a "pseudo objective" view onto the United Nations headquarters. The exhibition opening featured a performance in which five UN interpreters simultaneously interpreted texts of local Viennese people. These texts are now integrated into the exhibition in Nairobi. 

Here in Nairobi, in addition to the exhibition at the Goethe-Institut in the city center, the two artists also present the results of their investigation as a lecture-performance at UN headquarters in Gigiri and hold a two-day workshop with orphans from the Agape Hope Center in Dagoretti. The resulting children's artwork will be integrated into the exhibition at the Goethe-Institut. A symposium in the form of a "spontaneous commingling" brings together a small group of the UN officials and local people that the artists met during their research and stay in Nairobi, with the aim to create a momentary "ad hoc organization".

The art project UN.KNOWN SPACES has been developed as an integral part of the large scale scientific research project "andere räume - knowledge through art", funded by the FWF (Austrian Science Fund). 

UN.KNOWN SPACES Nairobi was realized in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Nariobi and the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. Additional support came from Schloss Bröllin e.V. 

June 26th 2014, 7pm opening and performance, Goethe-Institut
June 27th - July 17th 2014 exhibition, Goethe-Institut
June 27th to July 8th 2014, "the artists are present!"
July 4th-5th 2014, workshop with children of the Agape Hope Center in Dagoretti
July 8th, lecture performance at UN-headquarters Nairobi and "spontaneous commingling" at the Goethe-Institut

Concept and realization: Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin
Artistic participation: Vanessa Gageos
Studio recordings: Samuel Gfeller
Photo (c) un.known spaces and Masakazu Shibata





video workshop @ Agape Hope Children Center Nairobi