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21. September 2023 | 18:00 – 24. September 2023 | 19:00
Closing event of the fellowship programme of the Graduate School of the UdK Berlin with Sonia Hamad, Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho, Shehzil Malik, Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin and Adnan Softić & Nina Softić.
Opening on 21 September at 5:30 pm with artist talks and Küfa (food).
At the end of the day, what is the Graduiertenschule really? How to pin down the purposes it serves, the constituencies it caters to? Some consider it an academic experiment in disguise, or a Twilight Zone, or a Trojan Horse for extravagant aims in the faraway future. What we do know is that every two years, the postgraduate program of the Berlin University of the Arts marks the end of a fellowship cycle with an exhibition.
Could this exhibition offer some answers to our questions? In fact, a group show is always a complex process in its own right. It would be unfair, not to say unrealistic, to expect it to address the mysteries not even a Fellow or a Gastprofessor can clarify in person. That said, what a show of this kind can do is assemble five distinct artistic positions, five ways to commemorate a two-year process. However distinct these practices may be, our event will offer common ground, a prism through which to see these approaches both individually and in dialogue with one another.
Please join us in raising a glass to the Fellows 2021-23 – and to those who will follow shortly in their footsteps.
To begin with, Shehzil Malik’s A Woman Online: Can the Internet be Feminist? is an iteration of her long-term inquiry into how women and gender minorities navigate patriarchal structures in digital spaces. Malik focuses on Pakistan, where the Internet represents a complex ecosystem with its own dynamics and ideology, one that acts as both a site of oppression and a decentralized means to resistance. Malik has long engaged with key feminist stakeholders to understand how oppression is experienced, resisted and remembered. The Graduale audience is invited to engage with written testimony, photos, music, poems, artifacts and cues from the visual language of Pakistani street posters.
In the words of the artist, Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin’s in(to) grief offers an “exploration of death, life, and the grieving process. It intimately reflects on my personal journey by tracing my matrilineal DNA lineage, connecting my grandmother, Theresa Otibho Okhiogbe Oboh, my mother, Victoria Elomese Omonhinmin, and myself, Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin. Moving beyond societal norms that a lot of times stigmatize death, this project invites us to embrace death as a natural occurrence, deserving of love and acceptance. It aims to challenge our forced socialization by presenting death as an inherent part of life’s cycle.” On the evening of the vernissage, Omonblanks will also look back on the UdK Fellowship in conversation with Guest Professor Tirdad Zolghadr.
The contribution of Enzo Camacho and Ami Lien takes the shape of a public lecture on the opening night, when they introduce the filmic upshot to their long-term research effort The Angry Christ. The film revolves around a 1950 mural by Alfonso Ossorio, in an abandoned sugar mill on the agricultural island of Negros (Philippines). Building on both field- and archival research, Camacho & Lien enlist the Angry Christ mural to help understand the ongoing political struggle over land, food, and dignity as it plays out today in the Philippines and elsewhere.
In collaboration with scientists, technicians, and composer Thies Mynther, Adnan & Nina Softić have developed a hybrid between a sonification device and a musical instrument, one that emits data from the Arctic as sound. Their Sonified Portrait of a Disappearing Landscape allows for an unusual approach to data assembled by the 2020 Arctic expedition MOSAiC. The latter is the largest example of data collection within a single region, and perhaps the last comprehensive inventory of a swiftly disappearing witness to climate change. As the duo points out, “large data archives are hardly a solution to the problem as long as their contents are not given a socially accepted meaning” – by means of contemporary art or otherwise.
Finally, Sonia Hamad’s Kurdish Spring (2015), is eerily topical. The stackable plastic chairs are of a familiar, not to say universal design, and are seven in number, grouped in quiet expectation of seven absent individuals. Who are about to convene or who convened only recently. The scene is too casual for a seminar and too stiff for a picnic. And it is nestled within a panorama that is lush and inviting, set against a backdrop of makeshift expediency, still under construction. All of which might suggest, to some of us at least, the state of bittersweet suspension that arises when something that was meant to stand strong gives way to a melancholic sense of unpredictable possibility.