Rethinking the South

All over the world, people face urgent questions about how to shape their lives in society and organize their coexistence. Brazil has long since become a symbolic stage for global challenges.



Starting in 2023, the Frankfurt-based KfW Stiftung, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, will initiate the three-year programme Rethinking the South – Repensando Sul, which will award four scholarships each year with a duration of two months under annually changing themes. In 2023, the Afro-Brazilian past, present and future will be discussed under the question of "Postcolonial Presence". The following years will be dedicated to urban spaces and urban development (2024) and to the climate crisis (2025).

Repensando Sul
Repensando Sul

The Sustainable City — Thematic Focus 2024

Over 50 percent of the world's population lives in cities. And this trend is increasing. Today we are faced with the question of how we want to further develop our cities. What does a sustainable city look like and what characterises it? Cities have developed due to a variety of factors - industrialisation, colonialism, informal settlements, policies, changing age demographics, access to work and education and more. What does it mean when these factors are at odds with each other? Can a historical development of the city shed light on its potential for the future? Salvador de Bahia as a city forms the built and condensed backdrop for Afro-Brazilian history and postcolonial present in equal measure. The choreography of everyday life is reflected in the urban space alongside legal structures of domination, property and expropriation. Who built the city and for whom? Who inhabits it today? How do indigenous social concepts influence urban coexistence and how can this be shaped in perspective? Starting from Salvador de Bahia, the questions are exemplary for all cities and require a global understanding and treatment. Thinkers, artists and cultural practitioners from all disciplines are invited to continue thinking about the topic of the city in their current projects and to take it up artistically.

Postcolonial Presence – Thematic Focus 2023

The population of the state of Bahia, whose capital is Salvador, is predominantly Afro-Brazilian. As Brazil's first capital, Salvador was for centuries the most important port of entry for slaves abducted from Africa. This gave rise to a unique culture in the northeast, which continues to be strongly influenced by its African roots. Many Afro-Brazilians criticise institutionalised racism that continues to deny them social or academic advancement. The destruction of important archives after the abolition of slavery in 1888 has made it impossible for many descendants to research more about their regions of origin. The question of the postcolonial present also includes the cultural displacement of Brazil's indigenous peoples. What forms of expression do cultural workers and thinkers find to come to terms with history? What space do mourning and concepts of healing occupy in the postcolonial process of identity search? How can postcolonial presence and the future be shaped?

Grant Holders

Internationally renowned experts from various artistic disciplines working in different regions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East nominate outstanding cultural practitioners. Direct applications are not possible. A jury of experts decides on the submitted applications.

Jury 2023: Renate Heilmeier (Goethe Institut São Paulo), Dr Helio Menezes (Curator São Paulo Biennale 2022), Yvette Mutumba (Contemporary And, Stedelijk Museum, Curator), Maria Berrios (Curator), Daniela Leykam (KfW Stiftung).

The visual artist Lisa C Soto is based in Puerto Rico and Ghana. In her work, she uses imagery of actual and imagined cartography to address local and global interactions, tropical flora and cosmic connections. Her multimedia large-scale installations consist of earthbound and industrial materials as well as plants, instruments and games. Soto's works question hierarchies and binaries, reflect rhizomatic patterns in nature and challenge Western "rational" approaches to knowledge.

Selected exhibitions include Negro/A/X group exhibition at Corredor Afro gallery, 2020, Loiza, Puerto Rico; the Getty Foundation initiative PST LA/LA, Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, traveling group exhibition from 2017 – 2019; “Convergence”, a 2018 collaboration with Adjaye Associates creating her first permanent installation in the public realm in Newark, NJ. Artist lectures include MIT, Ford Foundation, KNUST, Claremont Graduate University and Rutgers University. Soto is currently an MFA candidate at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

"I am looking forward to experimenting with movement and flora within the space of natural environments such as the forests, and river beds in Bahia, during my stay at the Vila Sul residency. I intend to make use of the opportunity to explore a new medium in order to discuss the symbiotic and energetic exchange between bodies and plants in the context of Bahia’s histories. These histories will be triangulated between Bahia, my Caribbean cultures and my present home of Ghana."

Caroline Gueye was born and raised in Senegal where she grew up immersed in an artistic environment under the influence of her grandfather Paul Ahyi who designed the Togolese flag.
She pursued her higher education in France, the United States and China and she holds degrees in astrophysics, atmospheric physics and Chinese. Currently she ist working on a PhD in art and science at the university of Lyon in France.

Her work in the studio of the Chinese artist Qin Chong (亲冲) in 2016 inspired her in her preference for volume. Since then she has participated, all combined, in more than thirty group exhibitions, solos and residencies on four continents. At the Dakar Biennale 2022 she received the prize for the best artist in West Africa (ECOWAS prize).

Odun Orimolade engages her practice in an experimental and multifaceted perspective of trans-disciplinary approaches, research and collaborations. She keeps an open contexture to her pedagogic, artistic and curatorial practice attending to a mix of ideologies and worldviews cultivated from different resource areas. This leads her into explorations of human behavioural tendencies, orientation and interaction as mechanisms for navigation. Orimolade’s research interests revolve around approaches to practice, creative engagement, navigation and influences that challenge and inform creative production for positive external impact. She explores possibilities for professional practice development, learning mediums and pedagogies that provide fresh avenues for flexible creative exploration. Her research also interrogates issues and initiatives that promote or confine practice. She pursues an interest in participatory research practices, as artistic intervention into a range of different spaces. Orimolade is passionate about creating mentorship avenues and contributes to different fields of creative activity alongside community projects.

Quasi-artist born and raised in the outskirts of São Paulo, in the neighborhood of Parada de Taipas. Grandson of Rosa (Rose) and Esmeraldo (Emerald), Diego Crux is of the color that recalls memory. He researches intimate and personal callings, collective experiences, representation, design, visual samples, words. Crux has participated in exhibitions in São Paulo, Curitiba, Accra (GH), Arles (FR) and Copenhagen (DK) and in residencies, such as Pivô (2020) curated by Thiago de Paula Souza and MAM Rio (2021) coordinated by Camilla Rocha Campos.


With the VILA SUL, the Goethe-Institut Salvador-Bahia offers a place of residence for cultural workers from various disciplines for exchange and transregional networking on the overarching theme of the 'South'. With a standard period of two months, up to 16 scholarship holders are invited each year to work on their research and ideas on the 'South' on site. Due to its historical and cultural diversity, Salvador de Bahia is an ideal meeting place between the local cultural scene and international residents. The goals of the VILA SUL are a long-term and sustainable networking between the cultural scenes at home and abroad and thus the strengthening of intercultural dialogue, the initiation of changes in perspective, the crossing of borders and living in a different cultural context.

As the globally active cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Goethe-Institut is committed to promoting understanding between Germany, Europe and the world.

Programme Management

Daniela Leykam

Photo credits

01. Image: Goethe Institut / Photographer: Maria Fiedler
02. Image: Goethe Institut / Photographer: Lara Carvalho
03. Image: Goethe Institut / Photographer: André Fofano
04. Image: Goethe Institut
05. Image: Goethe Institut / Photographer: Paulo Overbeck