rongin shagor / রঙিন সাগর


With contributions from Kondo Heller, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Amira Zarari, Ozan Zakariya Keskinkılıç, Arijit Bhattacharyya, Bruna Barros and Jess Oliveira, Alice Yuan Zhang, Sara Ehsan, Carla Abiles, Leman Sevda Darıcıoğlu, Jumoke Adeyanju and you … | Digital Platform | Launch event on November 13, 2022 at Oyoun | 

Being a common term in Bengali, “rongin shagor রঙিন সাগর” translates to “colorful ocean” – the ocean as a holder of memories: Our bodies as holders of memories, which puts us in direct relation to bodies of water.

“Will you remember to keep us afloat ?” – in turn – proposes a question at the ocean that gives and takes and creates a parallel to how and who shapes memory in our world. Who stays afloat and is remembered to stay afloat? Who will be devoured by tides and forced to be forgotten?

Starting with a poem by Afro-German poet May Ayim, Oyouns new artistic intervention rongin shagor reflects on cultures of memory by exploring the reflective and generative threads of cultural formations located in the senses of the oppressed body. Retracing and reweaving these threads are the incessant tasks of cultures that faced colonialism. Collective memory emerges from language and patterns of collective memory influence language as socially and culturally shared narrative genres. The project attempts to form a constellation of remembrance by interweaving cultural responses and transnational dialogue. This multimodal space will create a rupture between voice and silence, the oral and the visual and an attempt towards the survival of the sensory cultures in the world today.

Taking the shape of a virtual artistic chain letter, rongin shagor is investigating the concept of heritage by getting others involved in the discourse of how our history shapes our actions today. A number of multidisciplinary and multilingual artists will respond to the poem “community” by May Ayim, a progressive thinker and key figure that shaped the Afro- German movement until her untimely death in 1996.

rongin shagor - the colorful ocean - hereby symbolizes the variety of poetic and artistic interpretations and inspirations that emerge from one poem. They float, embark, collide and buoy in the same place, each marking approaches to respective struggles in identity politics. Dreams, visions, and associative powers of imagination in poetry are heightened through a collective growth of individual artworks that build on each other - starting with the aforementioned poem by May Ayim. Responses to her work by interdisciplinary artists will shape rongin shagor while setting the way for further participation.

The erasure caused by coloniality with the parallel narrative during the pandemic challenges us to face realities of loss, loss of connection, loss of oral tradition, loss of ritual, loss of loved ones, loss of physical touch, loss of justice. In all this loss, there is a need to create a collective shared space, where challenges faced by different diaspora communities in Berlin and beyond are made visible and heard. This digital/online participatory project will attempt to create a hub of knowledge through art and bring it to a wider community to experience the space and get engaged in the discourses over time.

Being a mainly digital project with manifestations in the physical space, this body of work looks at the broader interactions between European nations and the societies they colonised by dealing with issues of identity, language, representation, displacement, migration, resistance and agency. The artistic responses will be shared both on- and offline, culminating on a digital platform, which is due to launch later this year and which will be accompanied by a physical “opening” event at May-Ayim Ufer and Oyoun in Berlin.

10. – 30.06.22

The exhibition “May Ayim: Poet. 1996.” by Akinbode Akinbiyi included the first in a series of artistic responses to May Ayim's poem “Community”. Over the next few months, several artists, some of whom knew the poet herself, will provide their own artistic responses, creating a larger corpus that will manifest itself in the form of a platform starting this fall.

The exhibition opening with artist talk (Akinbode Akinbiyi) took place on June 10th at Oyoun.

The exhibition was open from 11 to 30 June between 12 p.m. and 20 p.m. every day.


Open Call // Closing date August 1st

For rongin shagor - the colorful ocean - we are currently looking for multidisciplinary BIPOC* artists and activists who would like to respond to a poem by the Afro-German poet May Ayim. The artistic responses will be collected on a virtual platform to be released later this year. Detailed information and the application form can be found here here! 


“Speculating Caste” // Workshop start: 15.00 p.m

Workshop with Aroh Akunth

All systems of discrimination have an inherent logic of merit, caste only reinforces them differently than others, it literally creates a reality where two people who are indistinguishable are unequal, not that those who are distinguishable are should be treated differently. This workshop builds on the work of black feminist speculation writers who have attempted to wrest the genre from the hands of white men. He posits that many anti-caste thinkers are speculative writers because they imagine an alternative society. Together we want to create a more universal and conscious literature.


“Embodying Community” // Workshop start: 18.00 p.m. (BIPOC only)

Small group pillow talk with Alice Yuan Zhang and Y Thuan La

How does the diaspora body transmit, sense and store memories of the community? We want to explore this question together with a small group of POC at Embodying Community, a peer learning meeting. Referring to ancestral technologies, artist Alice Yuan Zhangs invites her acupuncturist, Y Thuan La, to conduct a virtual physical grounding exercise and answer questions about traditional Eastern healing practices. We will then sip mugwort tea and snack on tasty snacks together as we explore how our bodies can function as guides for community in a subjective and collective way. The focus of this event is collecting voices on cultural memory in the context of colonialism, displacement and resistance in Berlin and beyond. 

For this event there is one Sign in are required for operation.


"Stitching the memory" // Workshop start: 18.00 p.m

Workshop with Carla Abiles

The workshop “Stitching the memory” will reflect on the poem “Gemeinschaft” by May Ayim. Together we will design a banner on which we will collect experiences, implications, projections of the poem and the idea of ​​what community means.

This workshop is aimed at migrants, BIPoC, LGBTQ+, non-binary/gender non-conforming people.

The Sign in is possible until October 23, 2022.


“Critical Collective Practices” // Workshop start: 18.00 p.m

In societies that weaponize the alienation of individuals for economic gain, the idea of ​​collectives should offer respite and alternatives. Although these queer organizations have historically denied affiliation with specific races and policies, the delegitimization of pro-people ideologies, including workers' rights, has meant that the role of collectives has re-emerged in a unipolar world . In their defiant formations, collectives have been embodied by diverse peoples, shaping critical thinking, fertilizing diverse kinds of knowledge, and succeeding where larger mobilizations have failed. We invite you to reflect with us on how to connect one's individual practices to larger communities, what the pedagogy of collective practices might be, and how to support communities that are critical and generative.

The lecture presentation will be presented by Aroh Akunth moderated.

Also included are: Ming Poon, Priyadharsini (The Blue Club) Daddypuss Rex


“The Whisper of Others” // Start of event: 18.00 p.m

Concert reading with Sara Ehsan and Alain Alfred Moutapam | Musically accompanied by Hakan Tugrul on the santur and Djelifly Sako on the kora.

“The Whisper of Others” is a lyrical exploration of hegemonic historiography and the injustices deeply rooted in it. The poems combine world events with individual stories of flight and exploitation and invite the reader to take on new perspectives. Her poems are longing, sad and uplifting at the same time. 


“An Artistic Dialogue Starting With A Poem By May Ayim” // Start of event: 18.00 p.m

On November 13th at 18.00 p.m. we invite you to a personal presentation of the digital platform rongin shagor and to the presentation of selected works by artists who respond to the poem “community” by May Ayim as part of the project. The event will open with a performance by Oxana Chi & Layla Zami. There will then be time to hear, engage with and view the work of rongin shagor's selected artists. 


17.30h | Doors

18:00 | May Ayim's Wor(l)ds-Making
Input talk, poetry, music by Layla Zami

Followed by Killjoy | Dance, choreography, sound by Oxana Chi Creative Reflections on topics of home, belonging, racism and resilience alongside May Ayim

18:30 p.m. | rongin shagor - With answers from Kondo Heller, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Amira Zarari, Ozan Zakariya Keskinkılıç, Arijit Bhattacharyya, Bruna Barros and Jess Oliveira, Alice Yuan Zhang, Sara Ehsan, Carla Abiles, Leman Sevda Darıcıoğlu, Jumoke Adeyanju and you...

20.00 h | “Vortex” by Poetry Meets x rongin shagor 

20:45 p.m. | DJ Set by Parissa + fade out



Artistic direction, concept: Madhumita Nandi
Curation: Madhumita Nandi, Anja Saleh
Curatorial Assistance: Melisa Manrique
Communication: Tariq Bajwa
Design: Chhandak Pradhan
UX Design: Mark Mushiva, Rita Eperjesi
Web design: Rita Eperjesi, Zainab Tariq and Anna Eschenbacher
Web development: Zainab Tariq, Anna Eschenbacher with support from Ellina Nurmukhametova, Árpád Bencze, Malte Hillebrand, Anna Brauwers
Funding/Admin: Sophia Schmidt, Paul Räther, Nina Martin

The project “rongin shagor” is developed within the framework of "dive in. program for digital interactions" for Kulturstiftung des Bundes, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) in the program NEUSTART KULTUR and the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa.

Logos of the sponsors of Dive In, a program of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, and the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe