DAOULA | sheen focuses on the natural formation and cultural history of wild silk obtained from caterpillars in West Africa and the multifaceted view of this unique material by microbiologists, material scientists, and architects from Germany.

Daoula is a term in Burkina Faso for »sheen« and »charisma«. For the Marka-Dafing community daoula is innate in certain animals, people, and things. For Western eyes, animals, plants, and people are involved in the production of this sheen. Its meaning and knowledge are accessible to different communities, but in their ways: textile makers from Burkina Faso, microbiologists, material scientists, and architects from Germany each have their own terms and specific tools. The caterpillar's mouth, the spinner's spindle, and the weaver's loom are replaced by microscopes and pipettes in Berlin laboratories.
From the outset, Daoula is a matter of the collective: the wild silkworms of the Anaphe species set out in the West African savannah in search of a tree to collectively build a nest, in which each individual spins its own cocoon and starts its metamorphosis. These cocoons are a precious material. Communities in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria extract wild silk from it and weave it into cloths of prestige. Now the wild silk cocoons have traveled from Safané (Burkina Faso) to Berlin. Here, material scientists, molecular biologists, anthropologists, cultural scientists, architects, and designers are looking at them. They want to understand what they have in front of their eyes, how does this material perform, and why. Is it due to the spinning and weaving processes? And what is the nature of these processes? Can it be found in the chemical processes, the intervention of bacteria?
And where is the sheen? For the local communities in Burkina Faso, the sheen is of immense value. However, why it is so difficult for the human eye instructed by European traditions, to recognize this kind of sheen? The knowledge and exchange between the different actors is the focus of an exhibition that will be shown first at the Tieranatomisches Theater in Berlin and then at the Musée de la Musique in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). West African Wild Silk is making its way - informing and inspiring a new creative dialogue between West African craftsmanship, European science, and design.
DAOULA | sheen is a project of the Cluster of Excellence »Matters of Activity. Image Space Material« at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, funded by the DFG.
Curated by Laurence Douny, Karin Krauthausen, and Felix Sattler with a film installation by Thabo Thindi.


• Agence nationale de la recherche (anr), »Materials and Cultures. The Wide World of Wild Silks – WILDSILKS«, France
• Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST), Burkina Faso
• Endangered Material Knowledge Programme, The British Museum, United Kingdom
• Goethe Institut Burkina Faso
• Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Faculty of Biology, Department of Microbiology
• Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Department of Biomaterials, MoA-Research Group »Adaptive Fibrous Materials«
• Musée de la Musique Georges Ouedraogo (M.M.G.O.), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
• Tieranatomisches Theater of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (TA T)
• weißensee school of art and design berlin, Department of Textile- and Surface Design
• Women’s association of Safané »Bie tchiani souna«

Co-created with

Burkina Faso
Abdoulaye Séré, Salif Sawadogo, Lonsani Dayo, Hezita Dayo, Afoussata Fofana, Souleyman Sakira, David Dao, Bibata Sanogo, Mamadou Séré, Adama Konate, Mahamadi Ilboudo
Elaine Bonavia, Saskia Buch, Karola Dierichs, Michaela Eder, Jessica Farmer, Skander Hathroubi, Regine Hengge, José Ignacio Hernandez, Heike Illing-Günther, Sara Hassoune, Jens Mählmann, Martha Maria Panzer, Iva Rešetar, Nikolai Rosenthal, Clara Santos Thomas, Christiane Sauer, Jasmin Sermonet, JoJo Shone, Maxie Schneider, Wilfried Strauß