Nur Hanim Mohamed Kairuddin
Not only since September 11th, it is the concern of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations to stim-ulate the cultural dialogue between Europe and the Islamic countries, to inform, and to promote mutual understanding and tolerance. The Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations is influencing the all important inter-cultural dialogue with manifold cultural activities and projects such as the exhibition series “Focus Middle East” and “Worlds of Islam” in the ifa galleries in Stuttgart and Berlin, the online magazine “Contemporary Art from the Islamic World”, the “German-Arab Media Dialogues”, the report “The West and the Islamic World. A Muslim Position”, as well as the magazine “KulturAustausch” (“Cultural Exchange”).
The project “Nafas. Contemporary Art from the Islamic World“ concludes the exhibition series “Worlds of Islam“ for the time being, which the ifa galleries Stuttgart and Berlin has been displaying at irregular intervals since 2003: the exhibitions “Love Affairs”, “From the Red Star to the Blue Dome”, “Architecture and Place: Rasem Badran“, “Arabian Worlds – Fashion Worlds“, “Layers of Time and Spaces. Art from South Asia” and, most recently, “dense but deep. Photographs from the Arab World” presented a broad spectrum of art and culture from Islamic countries. The exhibitions, publications and events allowed to broach issues that arise from today’s political and cultural developments and opened up the space for discussion.
Artists granted a direct approach to themes, problems and the everyday life as well as an unbiased discourse beyond the clichs created by the media. Our main concern was and is to offer artists from the Islamic world a platform, and to question established images by means of art, photography, architecture and design, to remove prejudices and to intensify the constructive intercultural dialogue.
The exhibition “Nafas. Contemporary Art from the Islamic World” presents a general view of contemporary artistic work in the Islamic countries, from North Africa to South East Asia; it is part of a project that is conceptually connected with the online magazine “Contemporary Art from the Islamic World“, which is published by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations in collaboration with Dr. Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder on their website “Universes in Universe – Worlds of Art” since 2003.
Although the selected works are manifestations of individual creative processes, in the exhibition they also serve as examples of artistic positions and issues broached by numerous artists from; these countries and regions: the relation between the individual and the society, between the individual and the norms and frameworks set by politics and religion in many Islamic countries determines the entire social reality. Self-determination and censorship, the separation of public and private space, the questioning of traditional values in an urban context subjected to fundamental and rapid changes, are among the themes that artists are tackling. Along with the selected and presented installations, photographs and video and digital works, computer terminals will be made available in the exhibition, which provide access to the contents of the online magazine. The visitors thus have the possibility to learn more about the works of art and their creators as well as about other artists from the Islamic world who are concerned with similar issues or represent comparable artistic conceptions; information on art scenes, events, exhibition institutions, academies of art and publications allows for surprising insights into the current art discourse and an objective survey on the cultural developments in Islamic countries.
By complementing the sensual experience of art with a comprehensive supply of information, individual artistic positions may be grasped and located within the cultural, social, political and intellectual contexts. The possibility of discovering new aspects and fascinating connections contributes in a substantial way to an unprejudiced dialogue.
Curated by Pat Binder and Gerhard Haupt.