Antonia Bisig: Menschen Bilder Krieg (1995 – 1998), painting/drawing on newspaper
Bashar Alhroub: No Time No Place (2009), video, 3.07 min (loop)
Curator: Charlotte Bank
Opening: Sat. Dec. 12, 2015, at 7 pm
Exhibition dates: December 13 – 20, opening hours: Fri – Sun 4 – 7 pm
The exhibition Passagen / Passages unites the works of two artists, Antonia Bisig and Bashar Alhroub, that address different aspects of flight, uprooting, ephemerality and impermanence. As a Palestinian, Bashar Alhroub is only too familiar with the essential insecurity of existence. The figures in his video No Time No Place appear ghost-like, indistinguishable and scarcely recognisable as humans. In in a shadow world of black and grey they move back and forth in strange patterns, unclear in their relations to one another. We do not know whether they are caught up in friendly exchanges or whether they are engaged in hostilities of some kind. They remain impossible to fully grasp. If we extend this thought, they also seem to reflect our own feelings of insecurity faced with the unfathomable and our search for comprehension and stability and in this they seem uncannily familiar.
While the figures in Bashar Alhroub’s video appear almost abstract, Antonia Bisig’s work confronts us with very real human beings. The artist gives the shadows faces and histories and forces the onlooker to acknowledge these. With great detail she draws four women and a child in a moment on their flight. According to the title, they are refugees from Srebrenica, on their way to Germany, fleeing the war in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. But they could just as easily be refugees fleeing Syria now to seek shelter in Europe. The scenes are the same, then and now. In her series Menschen Bilder Krieg (“Humans Images War“) Antonia Bisig also wanted to confront her own inclination to repression; through the intensive process of drawing she sought to force herself to look and to address what she felt more inclined to ignore and thus to face her own helplessness. This process is mirrored in the intensity of her drawings. An intensity that has an almost bodily effect on us and that makes it impossible to turn away in indifference.
The works of the two artists are not new works. They were not realised under the impression of recent events. And yet, they might just as easily refer to the Here and Now. With the exhibition Passages we would like to take a stand against the violence that forces people to leave their homes and at the same time to call for an open reception of the refugees who find their way to our city. We invite our audience to confront their own feelings of helplessness when faced with misery and to put themselves in the place of the refugees.
The exhibition Passagen / Passages takes place in the frame of the FORUM for new arab art. The FORUM is an ongoing, interdisciplinary project that seeks to follow new developments and approaches in contemporary visual practice in the Arab countries. The exchange with artists from around the world and in particularly the international art scene in Berlin plays a major role among its activities. The FORUM presents a series of events throughout the year, such as exhibitions, video and film screenings, performances and artists’ talks.