mounir fatmi
Kunst Museum Bochum, Bochum

Unexpected, 2010


Kunstmuseum Bochum

18.6.2010 – 10.10.2010

Curator: Necmi Sönmez


"UNERWARTET / UNEXPECTED – From Islamic Art to Contemporary Art" is a project of the Kunstmuseum Bochum in the framework of the Ruhr art museums’s joint presentation titled Mapping the Region and marking the occasion of the European Cultural Capital RUHR.2010.

The exhibition operates on three levels. The starting point is large-format photography by the Finnish artist Tuomo Manninnen that presents ten families with roots in Islamic countries. Some of these families are already living in the third or fourth generation in various cities of the Ruhr Valley; they show themselves in their current surroundings.

On a second level, works are shown by contemporary artists (Hamra Abbas, Arahmaiani, Lara Baladi, Mounir Fatmi, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Özlem Günyol & Mustafa Kunt, Arash Hanaei, Shady El Noshokaty, Zineb Sedira, and Nebojša Šeric Shoba) from the respective ancestral countries of the chosen families. This creates a link between migration and contemporary art. To further illuminate the reference points between the successfully integrated families and current art from the respective Islamic-molded home countries, examples of classical Islamic art are presented as the exhibition’s third level. This intertwines tradition, the present, and fractures in the tradition in the context of their current meaning. The interdisciplinary exhibition operates with mirrorings and interactions among these three levels and consciously rejects simplifying and clichéd statements and determinations.

The terms "Islam", "culture", and "contemporary art" have divergent associations in the cultural-political interactions between East and West. A final clarification of these problematic concepts is complex and not the goal of this project, especially since the contemporary part of the exhibition is not able to and does not seek to depict general Islamic art or culture as such, but primarily focuses on the strategies of the younger generation of artists. The latter demonstrate quite autonomously their view of the world in which they live. The "contemporary image making" of their works is determined by a perception that often makes use of fragmentary, surrealistic, or poetic means and components, independent of regional, ethnic, and historical circumstances.

For observers of present-day constellations between the Orient and the Occident, it is easy to understand why writers and artists whose roots lie in Islamic-molded cultures reject being politically, sociologically, or aesthetically categorized on the basis of their religious affiliation; they rightly point out that these categories originate primarily in Western ideas and prejudices. Central Europeans find it hard to understand why such categorizations have negative associations in Islamic cultures. The supposed superiority of the European value system over the art of other cultures, especially countries molded by Islam, derives from colonialism. To this day it is hardly possible to view contemporary art from these countries from a viewpoint of equality, without oversimplifications and overgeneralizations.

The title "UNERWARTET / UNEXPECTED" reflects a Eurocentric art public’s usual first reaction to current art from Islamic cultures. A primary aim of the exhibition is the attempt to perceive the transfer of new cultural experiences and exchange relationships. Up to now, kindred exhibitions in the German-speaking world (for example, DisORIENTation, Contemporary Arab art production from the Middle East, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 2003; TASWIR, Islamische Bildwelten und Moderne, Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2010) have concentrated on simple "presentations" or on a "call for dialog"; but a different form of depiction is being tested in the Kunstmuseum Bochum. Making the viewers aware of migration from Islamic countries to the Ruhr Valley is thereby the thread running through the exhibition.

Immigrants to the Ruhr Valley initially came with no further perspective than residence for a limited time, but soon they began coming with the firm prospect of spending the rest of their lives in this region. Despite initial difficulties, the successful integration of the second and third generation of "Gastarbeiter" children shows the progress that has meanwhile been made in terms of equal chances and equality between natives and immigrants in the Ruhr Valley. This is one of the most important statements of the photos by Tuomo Manninen. In their prose, the poets Nazim Hikmet, Mahmoud Darwish, and Adonis often call creative people "internal immigrants" who, with differing motives, take new paths. So a comparison is definitely possible between the "Gastarbeiter" of the old days and artists, and this exhibition has experimentally carried it out. Curiosity about a "new life" in unknown, alien surroundings and the wish to flee social, political, and cultural constraints are comparable motives and driving forces for both groups. The biographies of migrants and artists often read like processes of emancipation. The certainty of returning soon to their homeland was a prerequisite for most "Gastarbeiter" to be willing to go to another country.

Almost half of the artists invited to the exhibition live and work "away from home". They constantly commute between the place where they work and the place where they were born, seeking new ideas that frequently become the objects of their artistic projects. Some aspects of the exhibition may seem "transitory", because they reflect various traditions of the old homeland in transition to the new one. Almost all these works combine interest in history and its continued effects in the new living circumstances. But the point is not the history of the Orient as a delimited area, but rather world history, whose political consequences are especially palpable in countries shaped by Islam. The "wind" that seems to blow in all corners of the exhibition rooms comes mainly from the south and southeast.

Expositions personnelles I Solo shows (selection)
Ceysson & Bénétière 2019Wilde Gallery 2019CDAN Museum 2018
Göteborgs Konsthall 2018Art Front Gallery 2017Officine dell'Immagine 2017
Galerie De Multiples 2017Analix Forever Gallery 2017Jane Lombard Gallery 2017
Galerie Delacroix 2017Goodman Gallery 2017Lawrie Shabibi 2017
Analix Forever Gallery 2017Maisons des Arts du Grütli 2017ADN Platform 2016
Keitelman Gallery 2016Labanque 2016MMP+ 2016
MAMCO 2015MIAMIBUS 2015Analix Forever 2015
CCC Tours 2014ADN Galeria 2014ADN Platform 2014
Analix Forever 2014Yvon Lambert 2014Museum Kunst Palast 2013
Keitelman Gallery 2013Paradise Row 2013Institut Français de Casablanca 2013
Galerie Fatma Jellal 2013Analix Forever 2013Goodman Gallery 2012
Shoshana Wayne Gallery 2012 Lombard-Fried Projects 2012Galerie Conrads 2011
Fondazione Collegio San Carlo 2011Galerie Hussenot 2011AKBank Sanat 2011
Galerie Hussenot 2010Galerie Conrads 2009FRAC Alsace 2009
Galerie Delacroix IFM 2008Creux de l'enfer 2008Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten 2007
Musée national Pablo Picasso 2007Shoshana Wayne Gallery 2007La maison rouge 2007
Lombard Freid projects 2007Bank galerie 2006CAC d'Istres 2005
Espace des arts Colomiers 2004 CAC Le Parvis 2004Migros museum 2003
Biennales & Triennales I Biennials, Triennials (selection)
13eme Biennale de Dakar 20187th Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 20181er Biennale de Rabat 2018
57th Venice Biennale 20177eme Biennale d'Architecture de Shenzhen 201711eme Biennale de Bamako 2017
15eme Biennale d'art contemporain Alios! 2017Biennale Poznan 2016Setouchi Triennale 2016
10èmes Rencontres de Bamako 20155th Thessaloniki Biennale 201516th Media art Biennale Wro 2015
1st Trio Biennale, Rio de Janeiro 20152nd Bodrum Biennial 2015Fotofest Biennial 2014
5th Auckland Triennial 201310th Dakar Biennial 2012 White House Biennial 2013
Manif d'Art 6 20123rd Thessaloniki Biennial 201111th Lyon Biennial 2011
54th Venice Biennial 2011XIIth Cairo Biennial 20101st Mediterranean Biennial of Haifa 2010
Port Izmir 2, international triennial of contemporary art 20108th Dakar Biennial 2010Biennale Cuvée 2010
Xth Lyon Biennial 2009Art Tel Aviv 20098èmes Rencontres de Bamako 2009
1st Brussels Biennial 2008Pontevedra Biennial 200824th Biennial Memorial of Nadezda Petrovic 2007
1st Luanda Triennial 2007 52th Venice Biennial 20078th Sharjah Biennial 2007
2nd Seville Biennial 2006 Gwangju biennial 2004 7th Dakar Biennial 2006
4th Dakar Biennial 20007th Biennal Art Media 1999
Expositions collectives I Group shows (selection)
Maison Populaire 2019Bedford Gallery 2019 Evliyagil Museum 2019
Jane Lombard 2019James Cohan 2019Mathaf 2018
MACAAL 2018Fondation Boghossian 2018Sammlung Philara 2018
Nasher Museum of Art 2018Ellen Noël Art Museum 2018Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea 2018
MOCAK 2018Bozar Center for fine arts 2018Philharmonie de Paris 2018
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery 2018Goodman Gallery 2018Institut Français de Saint Louis 2018
Pensacola Museum of Art 2018 Von der Heydt-Kunsthalle 2018Gifu Museum 2017
Huntsville Museum of Art 2017Bandjoun Station 2017Institut des Cultures d’Islam 2017
Bellevue Arts Museum 2017Mudac 2017Primo Marella Gallery 2017
Goodman Gallery 2017MACAAL 2017Museum De Wieger 2017
Conrads Gallery 2017Galerie Ceysson & Bénétière 2017Keitelman Gallery 2017
Musée du Pays de Hanau 2017Château de Servières 2017CEAA 2017
Fondazione Fotografia Modena 2017H&R Block Artspace 2017Bedford Gallery 2016
Beijing Today Art Museum 2016Hôtel des Arts 2016Museum of Old and New Art 2016
Labanque 2016Les Photaumnales 2016Al Maaden 2016
Kunsthalle Faust 2016Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg 2016Archives Nationales 2016
Bardo National Museum 2016Arles 2016Musée d'Art Moderne de Troyes 2016
Rotor 2016Goodman Gallery 2016Musée Bartholdi 2016
Institut d’Art Contemporain 2016Santander Art Gallery 2016Brandts & Viborg Kunsthal 2016
Fondazione VIDEOINSIGHT 2015A Tale of a Tub 2015Contemporary Istanbul 2015
ADMAF 2015Goodman Gallery 2015Keitelman Gallery 2015
Galeria Municipal do Porto 2015Fabra i Coats 2015AMOCA 2015
Monastère Royal de Brou 2015CAC La Traverse 2015FRAC Franche-Comté 2015
ZKM 2015The National Library 2015Station 2015
La FabriC - Fondation Salomon 2015Van Abbemuseum 2015The Brooklyn Museum 2015
MMP+ 2015Sharjah Museum 2015Kamel Lazaar Foundation 2015
Sextant & + 2015Gwangju Museum of Art 2014QAGOMA 2014
N.B.K. 2014CAyT Centro de Arte y Technologia 2014Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery 2014
Station 2014Institut du Monde Arabe 2014Art Gallery of Western Australia 2014
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 2014Palais de Tokyo 2014L'art dans les chapelles 2013
MAD Museum 2013Marseille - Provence 2013V&A Museum 2013
30 ans des FRAC 2013MAC Marseille 2013MAXXI 2013
Museu de Arte Moderna de Salvador de Bahia 2012Institut du Monde Arabe 2012Edge of Arabia 2012
Apexart 2012B.P.S. 22 2012Dorsky Gallery 2012
International Center of Graphic Arts 2012Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art 2011Fondation Blachère 2011
Brooklyn Museum 2011Dublin Contemporary 2011Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts 2011
Museum on the Seam 2011Tri Postal Lille 2011Meeting Point 6 2011
The New School 2010Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil 2010Fondazione Fotografia Modena 2010
Aargauer Kunsthaus 2010KAdE 2010Kunst Museum Bochum 2010
Moscow museum of modern art 2010Art Gallery of Ontario 2010Fondation Gulbenkian 2009
Centro de Arte de Santa Monica 2009Beirut Art Center 2009Salina Art Center 2009
Kunstverein Medienturm Ilz 2008Te Papa museum 2008Studio Museum Harlem 2008
Haus der Kunst 2008Centre Pompidou 2008CAAM 2008
Centro de Arte de Santa Monica 2008Johannesburg Art Gallery 2007CAC Le Parvis 2006
CAPC musée d'art contemporain 2006Bank Galerie 2006Les Abattoirs 2006
Moderna museet 2006Mori art museum 2006Wereldmuseum 2005
Centre Pompidou 2005The Stenersen Museum 2005Saw gallery 2005
Konstmuseum 2005Hayward Gallery 2005Museum Kunst Palast 2004
Tri Postal Lille 20042nd international contemporary art meeting 2003Espacio C 2002
O.N.A. Foundation 1999CAC Castres 1999Musée des beaux-arts de Dôle 1999
Musée des arts décoratifs 1999  
interventions publiques I public space projects (selection)
metavilla 2015Collateral Project to the 12th Havana Biennial 2015Prison Qara Meknès 2015
Art Paris 2015Analix Forever 2014Sculpture Beach Art Dubai 2012
Le Printemps de Septembre 2012Narracje 4 2012Ivry 2010
FIAC Tuileries 2010 Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2004