Here History Began

Here History Began

Tracing the Re/Verberations of Halim El-Dabh

This exhibition focuses on an almost forgotten exponent of African and Arabic philosophy of sound: Halim El-Dabh – composer, electronics pioneer, scholar and teacher.

Portrait of Halim El Dabh

Halim El Dabh

© James Vaughan

SAVVY Contemporary respects the current measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. We wish everyone good health and safety. Until the lockdown regulations change, the space will stay closed but you can connect with this project sonically and visually through our window showcase as well as through a digital platform that will soon follow.

“Here History Began” pays homage to the Egyptian-American composer, electronic music pioneer, researcher and teacher Halim El-Dabh (1921 – 2017). A paramount figure in shaping African and Arab sonic philosophy, El-Dabh’s oeuvre has vanished into oblivion, despite the fact that his important work spans a period of seventy years and includes, amongst others one of the earliest works of electroacoustic music, “Taabir El Zaar” (1944).

As the culmination of five years of research, SAVVY Contemporary and MaerzMusik present an exhibition based on El-Dabh’s immense archive of tapes, scores, letters, texts, photographs and videos. Contemporary transdisciplinary artists and musicians have been commissioned to make new pieces, to relate and pay tribute to, get inspired by, and reflect on El-Dabh’s practices and positions within music history and beyond, to deliberate on what contemporary African and Arab soundscapes are today and where they stand within the genealogy and legacy of Pan-Africanism.


Halim El-Dabh
Leo Asemota
Black Quantum Futurism (Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother & Rasheedah Phillips)
Vivian Caccuri
Jessica Ekomane
Jihan El-Tahri
Theo Eshetu

Satch Hoyt
Aryan Kaganof
Tegene Kunbi
Yara Mekawei
Magdi Mostafa
Camille Norment
Emeka Ogboh
Matana Roberts
Lorenzo Sandoval
Sunette L. Viljoen


Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung & Kamila Metwaly Concept
Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung Artistic Direction
Kamila Metwaly Curator, Researcher, Editor, Writer
Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock Co-Curator
Onur Çimen Co-Curator & Editor
Lili SomogyiCuratorial Assistant
Ola Zielińska Szenographie und Ausstellungsdesign
António Pedro Mendes Production Manager
Muhammed Salah Abdulaziz, Billy Fowo Production Team
Lili Somogyi Curatiorial & Project Coordination
Lema Sikod General Management
Jörg-Peter Schulze Project Management
Anna Jäger Communications
Juan Pablo García Sossa Design
Kimani Joseph, Peter Lowas Art Handling
Emilio Cordero Light Design
Bert Günther Tech
Monilola Ilupeju, Sagal Farah Research Berlin Iteration
Anna Jäger (Deutsch), Muhammad Salah Abdulaziz (Arabisch) Translation

This project has been funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Goethe Institut, MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues and Deutschlandfunk Kultur.

Logo Kulturstiftung des Bundes

PROJECT PARTNERS MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues and Deutschlandfunk Kultur