iwalewabooks is a publishing house for art and discourse.
Through a number of series, we dedicate our publications to questions about:
– aesthetic social discourses
– the politics of collecting and debates about archives
– artistic and academic positions from the Global South
All publications are based on the conviction that creating books is an aesthetic and collective endeavour.
Many volumes are therefore produced in collaboration with research projects as well as cultural and societal initiatives.
iwalewabooks is currently based in Bayreuth (Germany), Lagos (Nigeria) and Johannesburg (South Africa). As well as books, e-books and zines – with series titles including art, discourse, collections (with a broad archival umbrella), pleasure, scholar, and the smaller books series including manifestos and artist’s books, out of band – iwalewabooks offers original artworks, the proceeds of which go directly back to the respective book projects; and offer their expertise and services in the fields of art, art history, and curating consultancy, to the end of engaging broader conversations and dialogue, with focuses in African modernisms, feminist and queer arts and contemporary positions in literature and fine art.Their network of artists, cultural practitioners and academics extends to countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Turkey and Germany.
In our Q&A, Dr.s Nadine Siegert and Katharina Fink, publishers and editors based in Lagos and Johannesburg, discuss the theories which inspire the publishing house, productivity during an ongoing pandemic, and embracing the digital.
AiW: Could you tell us a bit about your work and the ways that the pandemic has affected your plans for it?
Nadine Siegert and Katharina Fink from iwalewabooks: We present a wide range of books around art and discourse, focusing on theories such as hauntology but also the current restitution debate within museums. Most of our books are carried by an attempt to decolonise discourse and aesthetics but also to rethink concepts such as the “Global South”. We work with authors and artists from different African countries such as Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa but also Brazil, and in different languages such as Arabic, French and Portuguese. Our books are high quality aesthetic products with a lot of attention given to details such as paper, typography and material. Each book is a unique aesthetic experience.
In what ways are you working now that you weren’t before?
The pandemic has affected us in two ways. On the one hand we had to learn to work together from a distance. We are now practising long, extended online work sessions, even our publisher retreats we do often do online. Also the communication and even events to launch our books we do digitally sometimes. This is not necessarily a negative development, but we are happy whenever we can meet each other and the authors and other partners physically.
On the other hand, we were super productive during the pandemic – we have reactivated hibernating projects and were able to finalize them in the long days and nights we sat at home in lockdown. Therefore, we were now able to publish seven new books in the last 24 months, and at least two more will be published this year.
What have you found most supportive and/or heart lifting in this time?
We learned to embrace each other digitally and how to care for our projects and the people involved also from a distance. Not always is the digital space the right format to hold a space for complex issues, though. We had therefore decided collectively to cancel one event in the last month – just an hour before it was supposed to happen. This was one very heart lifting, in the sense that we would otherwise have a very heavy heart. Also, our book launches and discussions with our community of authors are always very special moments – when we realise that the love for the books holds us together, no matter where we are, and no matter whether we convene digitally or physically.
How can our blog communities best support you?
Africa in Words can support us through book reviews and also interviews with our authors. We would be happy about a growing relationship with the blog authors. We can also imagine to organise events together, such as webinars and panel discussions around independent publishing or any of the themes we are engaged with: queer politics and aesthetics, African modernisms in the arts, the politics of archives and collections, to name just a few. Also, the network of publishing houses and authors and readers that your blog creates, is supportive just by knowing it exists.
With our thanks to Nadine and Katharina.
iwalewabooks’ latest on YouTube (January 16th, 2022), is a screening of “I AM ỌṢUN” – ÒRÌṢÀS IN POP CULTURE, FILM AND THE ARTS, the second part in series of three events, in which iwalewabooks and the Goethe-Institut Lagos invite you to get to know the book project Who’s Who in the Yorùbá Pantheon (iwalewabooks, 2020). The film portrays four artists and their ways of working with the Òrìṣàs: Filmmaker Uyiekpen Nosakhare Igbinedion, visual artist Mukhtara Yussuf, graphic designer Abdulkareem Baba Aminu from Nigeria and the Brazilian artist D’Andrade.
For more on our Words on the Times Q&As – a series of conversations with writers, academics, publishers, and artists that reaches back to April 2020, with the first few running as virtual launches as the #Covoid for books first landed – see the category page here. Please note, the series is open for submissions – drop us a line via our Contact us / Submit page – we’d love to hear from you.
Categories: Words on the Times