Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
01 Nov 2013 - 12 Jan 2014

On 1 November 2013, Berlin’s art venue Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien will open the exhibition IN SEARCH OF EUROPE? (ISOE) organised by the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin.

From a wide range of perspectives, the works approach the question of the degree to which Europe is still a standard against which people in other parts of the world measure themselves. Was it ever the role model it likes to see itself as? The exhibition draws a differentiated picture of a world that is not simply divided in two, but that is characterized by mutual entanglements, gazes, and relationships.

The eight art works especially commissioned to be shown at the exhibition provide a very consciously polyphonic answer to these questions, to depict two worlds encountering each other, the central motif that Mozambican artist Gemuce chooses for his 15-part series of oil paintings Alignment of Values is the wall. since Gemuce’s artistic work concentrates on the interpersonal encounter, he will expand his concept performatively and complete the series during the opening days of the exhibition, with the active involvement of the visitors.

Maher Sherif, Aliaa ElGready, and Ahmed Salem take the experimental literary work created by a group of alexandrian writers and one of the isoE researchers titled Iskanderiyan Standards as their starting point and as material for a wall comic whose theme is the search for “the other” in alexandria. the literary product of this collaboration is also on view in the exhibition in the form of a handcrafted book.

Esra Ersen traces the gaps in memory and the blank spaces on the map of bulgaria’s history under the title When Thinking Some Play with the Mustache, Others Cross Arms the found objects and stories that she gathers together seem odd, but provide a glimpse of a European past that can be a prospect for a supranational Europe.

Mohamed Abdelkarim’s multimedia work Comparison of Appearance consists of objects and a video installation, as well as a book centering on the politically controversial figure of the Egyptian Islamist ideologue, author, and intellectual sayyid qutb and his travels in the united states from 1948 to 1949, which changed his political convictions fundamentally.

the photographer Charlotte Menin uses the audio-visual sound installation Yacine’s Voices to lend several voices to the algerian poet yacine, who lives illegally in Marseille.

the artist duo Bofa da Cara (Nástio Mosquito and Pere Ortín) exposes the Europeans’ clichéd ideas about africa and, in a pointedly and provocatively staged lecture shown as the video installation My European Mind, sketch a radical counter-position with the demand for a “rebranding” of Europe.

Karem Ibrahim’s installation Randomly Selected is inspired by borderline situations and trans- gressions as well as by the relationship between authority and inequality.

in her new work A Long Way Home Anissa Michalon photographically reflects West African residents’ ties with and memories of the old guest worker dormitory called foyers in northeastern paris that they lived in for decades and that is now slated for remodeling. in the same space Vincent Leroux shows his series with the title Commanderie shot between 2007 and 2010, portraits of residents during the transformation of their parisian foyer into a social residency.

Following the previous events held in 2012 in alexandria, paris, and dakar combine with the works of art in a coherent whole. the exhibition is supplemented by an isoE framework program of lectures and debates with some of the participating researchers, artists, and guests, along with film screenings.



27.11.2013, 7 p.m.

Film screening followed by a debate in German.

With: Mansour Ciss Kanakassy (artist, Berlin), Kerstin Pinther (art historian/curator, FU Berlin), Christian Hanussek (artist/curator, Berlin), Daniela Swarowsky (ISOE curator, ZMO Berlin)

Our Foreign Agenda: The European Curator and the Senegalese Disapora Artist is a video-documentation of a lecture performance realized by Daniela Swarowsky and Mansour Ciss Kanakassy followed by an open discussion held at the DakArt OFF during the DakArt Biennale in May 2012.

This performance was planned to be a self-deprecating satire, a fictitious dialogue between an African diaspora artist (represented by Ciss), and the Berlin curator Daniela Swarowsky, with the aim to provide an occasion to reflect about the international and local art scene, the role of Europe within them, and to gauge mutual clichés and imaginations of the “Other.” However, the actual performance took a different turn and quickly departed from the script of an ironical dialogue between Swarowsky and Ciss into an emotional and at times heated discussion between Ciss and the audience about the role of artists and the meaning of art in the conflictual field between global entanglement and national rootedness.

With the shown film as starting point, Christian Hanussek will explore the European concept of art from an African perspective.


30.11.2013, 4 p.m.

Film screening and discussion in Englisch

With:Paolo Gaibazzi (anthropologist, ZMO Berlin), Aïssatou Mbodj (anthropologist, CNRS Paris), Daniela Swarowsky (ISOE curator, ZMO Berlin)
The evening will start with the screening of a video documentation of a debate How To Talk about the Experience of Migration Back Home? (a collaboration between Aissatou Mbodj and Daniela Swarowsky) in the framework of the ISOE-Pre-events in a Parisian foyer (migrant hostel) with their Malian and Senegalese inhabitants. The themes in questions where: How do they transmit their experience of being a migrant when they visit their families back in West-Africa? In how far do they keep the image of ‘paradise Europe’ alive or does it get rather deconstructed? In the course of the debate tensions between the older and young generation appear, where a young man attacks the father generation to have lied to them about their lives in Paris.

In the second part of this event, anthropologist Paolo Gaibazzi will talk about his fieldwork experiences in Gambia and other parts of West-Africaj around the topics: Is Europe still a magnet for Africa’s youth? Or is there a shift away from Europe to other centers or new strategies for envisioning a better future?

The following discussion will open the floor to the public and will explore the questions raised in both the film as well as in the lecture by Gaibazzi.


01.12.2013, 4 – 7 p.m.

Exhibition, lecture and discussion in English

With: Aïssatou Mbodj (anthropologist, CNRS Paris), Dominique Malaquais (anthropologist and curator, CNRS Paris), Daniela Swarowsky (ISOE curator, ZMO Berlin), and others.

Moderation: Samuli Schielke (ZMO Berlin)

ISOE researcher Aïssatou Mbodj together with ISOE curator Daniela Swarowsky will present three pieces in the exhibition which touch the topic of vsual representation of migration: the photographic series A Long Way Home by Anissa Michalon, Commanderie by Vincent Leroux and Yacine’s Stimmen by Charlotte Menin. They will discuss in exchange with the audience the different approaches each of the artists has chosen.

Aïssatou Mbodj will talk about how she as a researcher has approached her visual and textual contribution inside the ISOE exhibition.

Dominique Malaquais will give a lecture about a different perspective on migration: Discussions of (im)migration concerning the African continent tend to center on movement between Africa and Europe. South-South migration receives significantly less attention.

In Malaquai’s presentation the focus is on the latter type of movement, as addressed by Congolese multi-media artist Mega Mingiedi. The presentation focuses on an installation that Mingiedi developed in South Africa in 2009, titled Lelo Awa (“Here Now”). A complex, multi-layered project, Lelo Awa considers (among other subjects) the place of African immigrants in present-day Johannesburg.

Full program here







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