Carnival project

kaɦ.na.vˈaw Spirituality, Economics and Politics


With: CORDÃO DO BOITATÁ, YLÊ ASÈ EGI OMIM, MUDA OUTRAS ECONOMIAS, SAÚVA, PANAMÉRICA TRANSATLÂNTICA, KIKO HORTA (Musiker und Komponist Cordão do Boitatá), YA WANDA ARAUJO (Ylê Asè Egi Omim's Yalorixá), FLÁVIA BERTON (Head of production Cordão do Boitatá und Ylê Asè Egi Omim's Ekedi), Panamérica Transatlântica (VIVI MÉNDEZ MOYA, GABRIELA SALOMONE, DADO AMARAL), THIAGO ROSA (Künstler und Performer), JOTA RAMOS (multidisciplinary artist), TAIANA LOPES (artist and dancer), BLACK PEARL DE ALMEIDA LIMA (multidisciplinary AfroLatinx Trans-artist), MAURICIO VIRGENS (opera singer), IVAM CRUZ (communications), FLÁVIA MACÊDO (communications)

Carnival is not only a popular occasion for celebration in different longitudes and latitudes around the world. Carnival itself is also a socio-political event. From the history of Carnival, one can derive fundamental developments and changes in political and social nature. In addition to Cologne, Cologne's twin city Rio des Janeiro is also a famous carnival city. Of particular interest in the case of Rio de Janeiro - in relation to carnival - is the connection between the levels of spirituality, economy and politics. The project kaɦ.na.vˈaw | Spirituality, Economics and Politics wants to reflect this connection from Cologne and the Rhineland. Last but not least, the roots of the Brazilian carnival and the migration in Cologne and the Rhineland will be of central importance.

From July to December 2023, workshops, concerts and music performances, artistic presentations, as well as a performative symposium in collaboration with different institutions and migrant associations of Cologne will take place in this context. The project is artistically directed by Adriana Schneider Alcure, who is an ADKDW Academy Member, the co-founder of the carnival association Cordão do Boitatá and professor of theater at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and the Brazilian film and theater director, actor and theater educator Alex Mello, who lives in Cologne and Bonn.


Brazilian and Caribbean carnivals in general, but especially the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, are strongly influenced by Afro-diasporic, religious and cultural expressions. For centuries, Rio de Janeiro was the most important port of the global slave trade and, as the capital of Brazil (from 1822 to 1960), it was also a particular site of political activity. In this context, Carnival has become an important scenario of dialogue and negotiation between different cultures and realities of life. The roots of samba music and dance go far back into Afro-diasporic traditions. They contain the memory culture of crossing the Atlantic, of life in captivity, on the plantations, and of liberation; as well as elements of Afro-Brazilian religion, especially those from the Yorùbá culture (West Africa). The preservation of religious customs and anstral spirituality, songs, and dances were a particularly important element in the survival of communities in captivity and forced labor in the diaspora. Respectively, the recollection of one's own spirituality and Afro-diasporic identity is of central importance both in the struggle for the abolition of slavery and in cultural manifestations, especially the carnival.


In Rio de Janeiro today, Carnival not only represents an internationally renowned cultural spectacle, but also constitutes the city's most important economy. The financial survival of millions of individuals and families is sustained by Carnival. What is interesting about this phenomenon is that various forms of economy connect to the carnival: formal (media, spectacles, events), symbolic, but also informal and communal forms of economy (informal street vending, informal music and cultural events, family businesses and neighborhood initiatives, alternative barter currencies and trade). This singular position makes the city's most important cultural event simultaneously the city's most important and perhaps most complex economic event.


The history of Carnival cannot be separated from the history of demands for equal rights in a country marked by structural inequality. As a distinguished platform of visibility and a celebration of "the common people," Carnival has also become the site of diverse political demands over the years, particularly in the area of human rights, the right to religious freedom, liberty, and equality. Last but not least, Carnival in Rio - just like Carnival in Cologne - is a popular forum for political debate and political satire based on the democratic right of freedom of expression.

July - December 2023
Rio de Janeiro und Köln

In cooperation with the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum and the The Centre for International Cultural Education of the Goethe-Institut Bonn.

Supported by