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Urban Realities: Focus on Istanbul

Exhibition
9 July to 3 October 2005

Organizer
Künstlerhaus Bethanien GmbH
Funded by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds
Supported by the Istanbul Foundation

Patronage
José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor of Berlin

Curator
Christoph Tannert, Berlin

Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents. It connects the Orient with the Occident. It has built many bridges – some physical, some intellectual. The cultural correlations that exist between these two world regions are exemplified by Istanbul and its exchange with cities in Europe. It is to this theme that the exhibition is devoted.

However, the emphasis of the exhibition is less on the aesthetic perspective of the artist-cum-tourist planning to take an inquisitive stroll through Istanbul and more on a presentation of the city as a case study of global processes.

We know that Europe is more than what is has been in the past. Europe can develop into what Europeans make it by engaging in a process of active communication and understanding. The intention of the exhibition is to document the role Istanbul has played in relations between Europe and Asia in the course of its history and thus to make a substantial contribution to the public debate.
The fact that Berlin and Istanbul are twinned is still too often overlooked or apparently ignored.

Yet in Germany in particular there is now a growing interest in Istanbul. It is very much an issue in the fields of culture, politics, business and tourism as well as being a focus for personal expectations. This fascination is the product of successful film and TV productions as well as Orhan Pamuk’s novels.

Invitations to participate in the exhibition have been extended to artists of different backgrounds and nationalities who are interested in relating in their works of art to the diversity and heterogeneity of cultures, religions, languages and ethnic groups that are to be found in a mega-city like Istanbul.

Focus on Istanbul is a classical thematic exhibition, not an exhibition designed to document or illustrate regional developments by and with the artists of a certain region. The intention is rather to bring about a change of perspective, to blend and contrast external and internal views of the city.

The exhibition is a means of bringing together several interests relating to the overarching question of how heterogeneity and moments of cultural transition in urban life, especially active participation in matters of public concern, can be given artistic expression and in what way answers can be provided by artists from Istanbul and other parts of the world to such moments and to other issues that are laden with prejudice.

Urban Realities: Focus on Istanbul does not constitute a brief preoccupation with a theme that is linked superficially to the city of Istanbul. On the contrary, it is part of a planned trilogy of Berlin exhibitions that, over the next few years, will use artistic means to present similar comparative studies of the cities of Cairo and Mexico City.

The exhibition occupies over 2,000 sq. m. of exhibition space in the atrium and the entire ground floor of the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin and comprises works by over 70 artists from three generations and 20 countries in the fields of painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, sound art and film.

“URBAN REALITIES: Focus on Istanbul“ presents works by
Rey Akdogan (New York/London/Berlin) Nevin Aladag (Berlin) Marc Bijl (Amsterdam) Katinka Bock (Berlin) Luchezar Boyadjiev (Sofia) Sergej Bratkov (Moscow) Fernando Bryce (Lima/Berlin) Hussein Chalayan (London) Heman Chong (Singapore/Berlin) Christine de la Garenne (Berlin) Silvina Der-Meguerditchian (Buenos Aires/Berlin) Damien Deroubaix (Paris) Cevdet Erek (Istanbul) Peter Friedl (Berlin) Archie Galentz (Moscow/Yerevan/Berlin) Leyla Gediz (Istanbul) Ara Güler (Istanbul) Jens Haaning (Copenhagen/Berlin) Eberhard Havekost (Berlin) Minna L. Henriksson (Helsinki) Richard Hoeck (Vienna) Olaf Holzapfel (Berlin) Thomas Hornemann (Berlin) Istanbul Palimpsest/ Anna Kalvelage + Mirjam Wolf (Berlin) Ali Kepenek (Berlin) Lina Kim (Sao Paulo/Berlin) Folke Köbberling/Martin Kaltwasser (Berlin) Serhat Köksal aka 2/5 BZ (Istanbul) Germaine Koh (Toronto) Tamás Komoróczky/Hajnal Nemeth (Budapest) Valeri Koshlyakov (Moscow/Paris) Lucas Lenglet (Amsterdam) Via Lewandowsky (Berlin) Olaf Metzel (Munich) Serkan Özkaya (Istanbul) Haralampi Oroschakoff (Berlin) Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa (Paris) Lars Ramberg (Oslo/Berlin) Reynold Reynolds (New York) Sebastian Romo (Mexiko City) Sarkis (Paris) Robert Scheipner (Berlin) Cornelia Schleime (Berlin) Wael Shawky (Cairo) Reinhard Stangl (Berlin) Joulia Strauss (St. Petersburg/Berlin) Asli Sungu (Berlin) Roland Stratmann (Berlin) Evanthia Tsantila (Thessalonica/Berlin) Nasan Tur (Frankfurt/M.) Sencer Vardarman (Berlin) Costa Vece (Zürich/Berlin) Suse Weber (Berlin) Ute Weiss-Leder (Berlin) Peter Welz (Berlin) Michael Wesely (Berlin) HS Winkler (Berlin) Ina Wudtke (Berlin).

The exhibition will open in the Kunsthalle Budapest in March 2006.