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Stories from the Room in Addis Ababa

28 June 2021

As you go… roads under your feet, towards the new future together with Curtain project by Rockbund Art Museum and Contemporary nights Addis Ababa presents

Stories from the Room in Addis Ababa

June 2021 - ongoing

As you go…roads under your feet, towards the new future in collaboration with Rockbund Art Museum Curtain project  and Addis Ababa based collective, Contemporary Nights presents you a call for participation of Stories from the Room, a public project by artist Jasphy Zheng.

Stories from the Room is a participatory long-term project that collects personal writings about the shared experience of living through this “new normal” and builds a growing archive that could be reproduced in different localities. Unconstrained in terms of its language, form or geographic location, submissions are welcomed from all across the world. Contributing to the construction of a collective “sculptural monument”, every submission we receive will be periodically organized into a living archive and find ways of going public with it.

Stories from the Room was first realized as a response to the isolation felt during the outbreak of the pandemic. Presented at the institution CCA Kitakyushu, Japan, as a solo exhibition of Zheng  that closed and reopened repeatedly due to the lockdown, this gesture to create a sculptural monumental within this period was envisaged as a bridge to go beyond the concepts of closure and exclusion, exploring the capacities of participants to transcend these barriers through the imagination.

Invited by curator and founder of WCSCD Biljana Ciric and Larys Frogier, the director of Rockbund Art Museum in participating in the long-term research project As you go… roads under your feet towards the new future and as part of the CURTAIN project, Stories from the Room can be considered by participants as a conduit for different voices to convene anonymously, to share, transcend, vent, extend, activate, emphasize, release, express, disrupt, contemplate, and reflect on changes and new processes that influence our collective life and experiences during this unpredictable period.

In collaboration with As you go…roads under your feet, towards the new future Stories from the Room are implemented across different local contexts that project is situated working with local institutional partners and peers Kashakstan in collaboration with Artcom platform, in Ethiopia is collaboration with Contemporary Nights and Public Library Bor in Serbia. Special presentation has been developed in collaboration with TarraWarra Museum of Art in Melbourne during strictest lockdown imposed ever in the city’s history.

Zheng states: “Through this long-term project, I am rethinking the gap between on and offline worlds as a new territory that defines, questions, and challenges the distance between sociality and solidarity at a time like this. Through a collective act, this project simulates a physical gathering of text by collecting paralleled realities from participants and displaying them in a public space. We nourish outpouring to oneself in the form of a community regardless of distance.”

Addis Ababa version of the project has been developed in close collaboration with Jasphy Zheng,Biljana Ciric,Sarah Bushra and  Contemporary Nights developing set of strategies that could relate within local context.

To encourage people from all walks of life to participate in this project, we’re setting up writing stations in 6 selected locations across Addis Abeba. Considering the long-standing culture of coffee drinking in the city, we’re thinking of Cafes and street coffee vendors as depository of physical letters from people who go there to drink coffee and spend some time. We invite people to submit their stories using the language of their heart. The station includes a poster with details about the project, paper cut-outs with prompts for writing a letter, two volunteers who encourage people to participate as well as record voice submissions when writing is not accessible, and a box at location to collect the submitted letters.

The selected locations are:

Burtukan’s Coffee (ኑ ቡና ጠጡ), Alem Buna, Lime Tree (Kazanches), Entewawek Coffee, Qawa Coffee, and Tomoca Coffee (Piassa Haron Building).  These location is indicated in this map

Submissions are also open through email. Send your writing to Ensure your submission includes a name, location, and date. You can write about your days, thoughts or feelings, at any length and in any language you prefer.

Together we are inviting you to visit these spaces and participate in creating a monument to our time with your stories.


About the Artist

Living between the US and China, Jasphy Zheng is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice most recently explores the inevitable failure of communication, both on an interpersonal and collective level. Using social installations, unannounced performances, sculptural objects, and artist’s books, Zheng constructs situations as public interventions that aim to raise awareness of our social and cultural environment, both in and out of the context of contemporary art. Zheng graduated with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.


About As You Go…

the roads under your feet,

towards the new future

As you go… roads under your feet, towards the new future is a long-term project and research inquiry that reflects on the Belt and Road Initiative and how it will alter the aesthetics and practices of everyday life in different local contexts. The project was conceived and initiated by Biljana Ciric in 2019 after conducting curatorial research in East Africa, Central Asia, and several Balkan countries where project is situated.

This long-term research project is structured through research cells of organizations, institutions and individuals that Rockbund Art Museum is part of. Other partner cells are What Could Should Curating Do (Belgrade), Moderna Galerija (Ljubljana), Times Museum (Guangzhou), Artcom (Astana), Robel Temesgen and Sinkneh Eshetu (Addis Ababa), and The Public Library (Bor).

The first stage of the project has been supported by the Foundation for Arts Initiatives, CURTAIN (Rockbund Art Museum), Austrian Cultural Forum, Curatorial Practice (Monash University Art, Design and Architecture), and the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

As you go . . . the roads under your feet, towards a new future


About Rockbund Art Museum

and Curtain project

Stories from the Room is developed in collaboration with Rockbund Art Museum Curtain project. Inaugurated in 2010, Rockbund Art Museum is a contemporary art museum located on the Bund in Shanghai.

With a strong reputation for our innovative curatorial approach, we look to conceive different art projects from research to alternative learning programs, from exhibition-making to unexpected para-performative formats. By supporting bold contemporary art practices, we aim to continually remake local histories, whilst also responding to global art challenges and social mutations.

We regard the role of exchange as an essential process required for a wider transformation to occur by building up a network of multi-regional, international and cross-disciplinary partnerships. Through this process, we aim to cultivate a diverse and deep-rooted connection to our audiences, communities, and also different social and cultural organizations.

More on

As you go… the roads under your feet, towards a new future collaborates with Rockbund Art Museum through Curtain project initiated by museum director Larys Frogier and number of collaborators Mathieu Copeland, Biljana Ciric, Cosmin Costinas, Hsieh Feng-Rong, Billy Tang.

Initiated in 2020, CURTAIN is a long term research project, which will be articulated through a series of exhibition formats, discursive platforms and cross-institutional collaborations spanning a three-year period. Seeking to go beyond the fixed definition of an exhibition, the project looks to expand the dialogue with artists through the gathering of critical thinkers and practitioners from other social and cultural fields.


About Contemporary Nights

Contemporary Nights is a curatorial forum directing, showcasing, and documenting post-disciplinary artistic productions. CN# mediates collaborations and collective processes to forge meaningful connections among art practitioners in Addis Ababa and beyond towards nurturing a sustainable ecosystem and reimagining a radical collective future. CN# generates spaces for experimentation and facilitates research based and process-driven praxis to redefine existing boundaries.

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