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An art project by Nele Ströbel


While travelling through southern Africa I was introduced to modern imbenge art - Zulu woven work in psychedelic patterns made from telephone wire, which has been produced in South Africa since the 1970s. Back in Germany, I discovered that the Telegraph Office of the Royal Residence in Munich was to be disbanded and many tons of this beautiful wire was to be discarded.

Telephone wire art

And so the idea developed to use this wire from the historical centre of communication in Munich to build a house of communication - a space for dialogue between the cultures, with African and European artists.

The planned rondavel consists of 12 segments, 1m wide and 2m high, that can be stably inter-joined.
The frames are made from aluminium profiles with a pattern of horizontal holes drilled into the inner segment.

Each of the 12 participants will be provided with a standardised frame and up to 80 kg of telephone wire, as needed. Each artist is free to design the contents of the frame using any technique with telephone wire - for example, covering, weaving, soldering, so that the chassies can still be connected to each other to form a round wall.
There are no other limits to the artistic interpretation. The objects can be fitted with LEDs, controlled either by analogue or digital means - in the low volt category.

The participating artists from varying geographical and cultural backgrounds will get to know each other and their respective work and life contexts during the creative process. These experiences will flow into their communal work. Communication becomes tangible. It transfers into the built house, which again becomes a forum for communication on its worldwide exhibition tour.

My contribution as fine artist will be the digital design and creation of the canvas roofs for the imbenge-dreamhouse.
The motifs, lettering and graphic signs for these different roofs will be inspired by the various locations at which the imbenge-dreamhouse will be exhibited.

Co-operation Partners/Institutions:
South African Consulate, Munich.
Department of Arts and Culture, Ministry of Arts and Sciences, Pretoria, South Africa.
South African Embassy, Berlin.
Ethnological Museum Munich.
Bavarian Department of Arts and Culture, Ministry of Arts and Sciences, Munich.
Bavarian Government-office.
Foreign Ministry, Berlin.