getting across: an exhibition on borders 

01 - 15 September, 2016

Participating Artists : Bani Abidi (Pakistan/Germany), Francis Alys (Belgium/Mexico), Raqs Media Collective (India), Adrian Paci (Albania/Italy), Javier Téllez (Venezuela)

Since the summer of 2015, one topic has overshadowed all other political issues in Europe: the influx of refugees seeking shelter from murderous civil war in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Eritrea, Nigeria and the Ukraine, as well as well as from social and political injustice, oppression and atrocities executed in the name of religion. Many were welcomed by governments, but entry was refused to many of them by others. The differing views between the states of the European Union on how to deal with the phenomenon have not yet been reconciled, but have rather aggravated and exacerbated the situation. What was initially called a “refugee crisis” hasturned into a crisis of the European Union. The so called Brexit in June 2016 has indicated the degree to which this crisis has intensified. The tension between European countries has sharpened, while relationships with neighboring countries such as Turkey have worsened. A sense of fear, if not paranoia holds sway. What had seemed to be a point of debate between Europe and the Non-European world has turned into a conflict that has divided not only the EU, but also has cut straight through national populations and communities. Governments seem to be as helpless as individuals who witness a disturbing series of events, terror attacks and radicalization of people - some recently immigrated, some 3rd generation citizens.These developments raise serious questions about the values that shape international politics: Do we move towards a world that is increasingly globalised economically, but at the same time, compartmentalized ethnically, religiously and politically? Do we still move forward towards a world of cosmopolitanism, or do we face a world of isolationism and nationalism? What social, political and ethical concepts are at hand in order not to be trapped in the ideology of the “fortress of Europe”? What is the alternative to the concept of the nation state, (built on the idea of ethnic, linguistic or religious homogeneity), when it is about to collapse under the pressure of forced migration? How have other countries dealt with similar situations? Where should Europe look when seeking answers to these pressing questions? 

The complete list of participating artists, from a cross section of cultures and, often overlapping, geographic regions, are: Bani Abidi (Pakistan/Germany) | Naman Ahuja (India) | Halil Altindere(Turkey) | Francis Alys (Belgium/Mexico) | Raqs Media Collective (India) | Sumit Dayal (India) | Shilpa Gupta (India) | Zarina (India) | Amar Kanwar (India) | Kimsooja (Korea/USA/France) | Eva Leitolf (Germany) | Erik Levine (USA) | André Lützen (Germany) | Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria) | Adrian Paci (Albania/Italy) | Kishor Parekh (India) | Mike Parr (Australia) | Santiago Sierra (Spain) | Roman Signer (Switzerland) | Javier Téllez (Venezuela) | Jens Ullrich (Germany) | Lin Yilin (China/USA)

About the Artists

Born in 1959 in Antwerp, Belgium, Francis Alÿs originally trained as an architect. He moved to Mexico City in 1986, where he continues to live and work, and it was the confrontation with issues of urbanisation and social unrest in his new country of adoption that inspired his decision to become a visual artist. Throughout his practice, Alÿs has consistently directed his distinct poetic and imaginative sensibility toward anthropological and geopolitical concerns. The concerns are centered on observations of, and engagements with, everyday life, which the artist himself has described as “a sort of discursive argument composed of episodes, metaphors, or parables.” His multifaceted
projects include public actions, installations, video, paintings, and drawings. They have involved traveling the longest possible route between locations in Mexico and the United States; pushing a melting block of ice through city streets; commissioning sign painters to copy his paintings; filming his efforts to enter the center of a tornado; carrying a leaking can of paint along the contested Israel/Palestine border; and equipping hundreds of volunteers to move a colossal sand dune ten centimeters. Since 2004, the artist’s work has been represented by David Zwirner, where he has had two solo exhibitions at the gallery in New York in 2007 and 2013. Ciudad Juárez projects marks his
first solo presentation at David Zwirner, London, on view June 11 through August 5, 2016. A major solo museum exhibition, A Story of Negotiation, featuring the artist's three projects Don't Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, Tornado, and REEL-UNREEL (which depicts a street game played by local children in Kabul, Afghanistan,), is currently hosted by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana in Havana (through September 12, 2016). Alÿs’s ongoing project Fabiola is currently on
view at The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas (through January 28, 2018). 

Video installation artist Javier Téllez’s, (born in 1969 in Valencia, Venezuela) films combined documentary with fictionalized narratives to question definitions of normality and pathology. In One Flew over the Void (Bala perdida) documents a parade organized by Javier Téllez in Las Playas, on the border of Tijuana and San Diego. Combining two disparate political concerns, Téllez’s film takes issue with larger notions of exclusion. The performance ends with a human cannonball being shot over the border into the United States, a defiant act that transgresses social and political boundaries literally and figuratively, underscoring the hardships faced by the millions of migrants who cross the border illegally every year in search of a better life. Téllez has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthaus Zürich (2014); Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2011); Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2005); and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City (2004). He has participated in group exhibitions, at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas; Castello di Rivoli, Torino; Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany and Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Téllez studied at Arturo Michelena School of Fine Arts, Venezuela, and also participated in the Gasworks Studio Program, London (1999); Whitney Independent Study Program (1997); and P.S.1 International Studio Program (1993). He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999. The artist lives and works in New York and Berlin. 

Bani Abidi was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1971. She graduated from the National College of Arts inLahore, Pakistan in 1994. From 1997 she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, completing a master's degree in 1999. Working primarily in video, Abidi seeks to address issues of national and cultural identity in relation to partition history as well as the broad impact of foreign culture and power in a global context. Since 1996 Abidi has shown her work extensively in exhibitions and film festivals internationally and has participated in numerous residency programs. Her group exhibitions include: Documenta 13, Kassel; No Country: Art from South and South East Asia, Guggenheim
Museum, NY; The Global Contemporary; Where Three Dreams Cross - 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Xth Lyon Biennale: The Spectacle of the Everyday, France; 7th Gwangju Biennale 2008, Kwangju, South Korea; Singapore Biennale, Singapore (2006); Sub-Contingent- The South Asian Sub Continent in Contemporary Art, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy; 3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Fukuoka, Japan. Solo shows include: Then it was moulded Anew, Experimenter Gallery, 2013; Bani Abidi - Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, 2011; Green Cardamom- London,2010; Project 88 - Bombay,2010;
TPW Gallery- Toronto 2007, V.M Art Gallery, Karachi 2006. The artist lives and works in Berlin and Karachi.

Adrian Paci was born in Shkodër, Albania, in 1969. From 1987 to 1991 he attended the Akademia e Arteve in Tirana, Albania and lectured in art history and aesthetics in Shkodër from 1995 until 1997, at which time he left his home country for Milan. Paci’s position as an exile holds a central place in his oeuvre. His work frequently addresses themes of geographical separation, nostalgia, and memory, and conveys a keen sense of the mutability of life and art. Thought known primarily for his work in performance and video, Paci explores similar subjects in painting, photography, and
sculpture. Since 2003 he has been a lecturer in visual arts at the Accademia Carrara di Belle Arti in Bergamo and the Università IUAV in Venice. Paci currently resides and works in Milan.

The Raqs Media Collective was founded in 1992 by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. Raqs enjoys playing a plurality of roles, often appearing as artists, occasionally as curators, sometimes as philosophical agent provocateurs. They work across installations, video, sound, photography and text. Recent solo exhibitions by Raqs include Its Possible because Its Possible, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid (2013), Extra Time, Chronus Art Centre, Shanghai (2013), The Great Bare Mat and Constellation, Isabella Gardner Museum, Boston (2012), Reading Light, Festival d’Automne, Paris (2011), Surjection, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (2011) and The Things that Happen When Falling in Love, Baltic Gateshead, Newcastle (2010). The collective is based in Delhi, India.

Events – Films / Talks
In conjunction with the exhibition a discussion will take place, addressing the implications of the influx of asylum seekers on internal politics. Organised by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan in collaboration with the India International Centre (IIC), the talks will center on the idea of the nation state and its detriment. Speakers include Aman Sethi (Delhi) | Mark Terkessidis (Berlin) | Aladin El- Mafaalani (Duisburg) | Vaiju Naravane (Delhi), among others.

A curated package of films will explore the migratory phenomena while focusing on themes of identity, nation-state and nationhood. The films will be screened at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. Films include: Haunted (Dir.: Limaa Yazji) | What the Fields Remember (Dir.: Subasri Krishnan) | Meteorstrasse /Meteor Street/ (Dir.: Aline Fischer) | Fuocoammare /Fire at Sea/ (Dir.: Gianfranco Rosi)