Kunstverein Freiburg presents its spring exhibitions 2023.
Far from closing the circle
January 28–March 12, 2023
Salwa Aleryani’s display alternates between a water tank, a fountain, a roundabout, and a penny press. Far from being completed, the circle is characterized by a trail of artifacts and symbols that serve as protagonists of national narratives or as carriers of value, as well as events that represent political aspirations and power relations across geographies. The printing plate of a postage stamp prepared to honor Yemen’s entrance to the United Nations but never released is one of the stops. Another exhibit features an exchange of correspondence between the Royal Mint and Masraf Aden, the central bank of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, as well as drawings on banknotes that may be traced back to a German musician and photographer.
A round border of Qadad plastered bricks runs through the Kunstverein’s exhibition room, forming a wall-like structure that could be under construction or in ruins. Aleryani moves from a bird’s-eye perspective to a close-up, focusing on the individual stones of a building and the individual coins of a currency; the unseen bearers of built landscapes and capital, from which social spaces with their structures emerge. How may they be fashioned and minted to become the substance of those who inhabit these spaces’ narratives, wants, and desires?
Aleryani interacts with places and materials through assemblages of found and produced things, as well as the stories, hopes, and promises they contain. She constructs fragmentary spatial narratives by assembling objects and photographs that depict infrastructures and social ties. They are condensations of everyday worlds, traces of historical events, or foreshadowings of what is to come, containing the paradoxes of modernisation and the fragility of the future. Aleryani’s first institutional solo exhibition in Germany is far from completing the circle.
Salwa Aleryani lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Curated by Heinrich Dietz
April 1–May 14, 2023
How can history be presented and preserved if it fundamentally contradicts the Western concept of nation-statehood? How can events that are primarily invisible (and purposefully so) in the present be depicted? Jala Wahid’s first institutional solo exhibition in Europe continues on her prior studies on the deleterious implications of colonial occupation, seeking answers to both a supposed lack of speech and the issues of contradiction in the context of Western and Kurdish politics.
Wahid focuses her attention at Kunstverein Freiburg on Kurdish arts and archaeology, studying the lingering effects of British, French, and US-American imperialism while exploring the potentials of theatrical and performative means of resistance. The site-specific incarcerated bull sculptural work situated in the Kunstverein exhibition room alludes to Mîrmîran, a Kurdish performance rite. Mîrmîran, which involved the election of a dummy King and the imposition of forced legislation, was deemed politically subversive by British occupation forces and was subsequently prohibited in the 1920s. A deck of aluminum-cast playing cards in the gallery above reacts immediately to the corresponding deck issued by the Department of Defence, encouraging the US military to preserve archaeology during the Iraq invasion. Artefacts from Mesopotamia and modern-day Greater Kurdistan, currently on exhibit in London or Paris or still missing following the US military invasion of Iraq, are among those that Wahid is now recollecting and expanding on in direct opposition to illegal excavations and looting of archaeological treasures.
Western paternalistic politics of preservation and remembrance are critically handled within political and linguistic fragmentation, as well as problems of belonging and country. Wahid confronts the paradoxes, ambiguity, and complexities of diasporic reality, constructing a counter-narrative that can be transformative and self-empowering, built through resilience and self-positioning.
Jala Wahid lives and works in London, United Kingdom.
Curated by Theresa Roessler.