Emeka Ogboh transforms the exhibition space at MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38 into a branding zone for a Berlin beer called Sufferhead Original. Drawing upon a lecture by a leading figure in a German rightwing populist party, who referred to a “life-affirming African mode of propagation” and contrasted African and European reproductive strategies, Ogboh imagines a scenario in which a beer that tastes ‘like home’ to members of the African diaspora takes over the German capital and its beer culture. An infomercial recounts how a black stout brewed by the artist himself subverts the German beer purity law—the so-called ‘Reinheitsgebot’—and becomes so popular in Berlin that it supersedes all other beer brands. A jingle pays an Afrobeat-inspired, Lagos-Berlin tribute to Fela Kuti’s track “Original Suffer Head”, which talks about the economic and political situation in Nigeria in the 1980s, a decade of mass emigration. Questions emerge from the opaque Sufferhead Original beer bottles with their tattoo-style labels: Is the ‘sufferhead’ the result of drinking this spicy beer with high alcohol content? Or might it be related to the complex experiences of migration? Or is it due to the mere fact that Sufferhead Original is the only beer left in Berlin’s bars and stores?
Das Afrikanische Bierlaboratorium I stages and swirls investigations, projections, and debates about immigration, blackness, food, and community culture in Berlin and lets them resonate in the city of New York.