Save the date!
Opening 27. April, 7 p.m. Tour of the exhibition with Solvej Helweg Ovesen und Mario Rizzi
8 p.m. Arabic poetry reading with Syrian-born Palestinian poet Ramy Al Asheq (Editor in Chief of Abwab newspaper)
Afterwards DJane Set by KHMGNFF (Sub Saharan | Jazz | World Music)
Within the frame of this year’s exhibition program UP (Unsustainable Privileges) the exhibition BARE LIVES focuses on the Arab uprisings and on how they have radically altered the geopolitics of the region. However the Italian-born Berlin-based artist and filmmaker Mario Rizzi chooses a personal and privileged viewpoint: the role of the woman in the family and the changing Islamic society. Women have been taking part at the forefront of the region's revolutions since the early days of the so-called Arab Spring. Rizzi's works opt for the generally disregarded impact on the bare life of unknown people in this context. Together with the films »Kauther« (2014) and »Al Intithar« (Das Warten) (2013), the exhibition presents the series of photographic portraits »August 3rd« (2016) and the 80-image slideshow »Bare Lives« (2017). These images raise questions about the reception of refugees in western societies like Berlin and remind of our communal responsibilities towards those in need of a new normality and against media-instigated fears or spectacle. Rizzi's intimate approach to the theme of bare life suggests that art can create social change through means of poetry and instate human values. Mario Rizzi has often worked with individuals living on the edge of society, excluded by the law and from protection by the state. Over the last 25 years, he has developed a practice of interacting with internally displaced people, refugees, and activists living in places where the state of exception has become normality. He has spent many years working in refugee camps (Bosnia, Palestine, Jordan, Iraqi Kurdistan, the Netherlands, Italy, and Greece). »Bare life« as a concept (conceived by Giorgio Agamben in his book »Homo Sacer« from 1995) refers to a body, a human being, who exists outside of politics and the law, outside protection, who can be killed by anyone without legal repercussions. »Bare life« is a life not politically defined as life outside any nation state. The term describes a form of existence, one that Rizzi attempts to approach and reflect about with his films and photographs. In his photographic series »August 3rd« shot in a Yazidi camp for internally displaced people in Iraqi Kurdistan, the date »3/8/2014« is graffitied on many tents. On August 3rd 2014, Daesh, the Islamic State, started the genocide of the Yazidi minority in the town of Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan, with the massacre of men and ongoing enslavement and systematic abduction and abuse of women and children. Daesh justified the killing, occupation, kidnapping, the trading and mass rape of women and girls of the Yazidi minority because they are not Muslim. Rizzi's intimate portraits of Yazidi women, with their straight looks into the camera, interrogate us, our silences, our hurried judgments, our preconceptions. While the massacre is still happening, other thousands of Yazidis live in camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and Jordan, but also in Greece and Germany. The slideshow »Bare Lives« consists of 80 photographs shot in two different geographical areas and human conditions: the improvised camps which were unofficially forming throughout 2016 in Idomeni at the border between Greece and Macedonia, and the long-standing state-established camps for Yazidi IDP (internally displaced people) in Iraqi Kurdistan. All images depict a life of impermanence and uncertainty. But emotions are very different in the two camps. In Idomeni people seem hopeful and they look forward to a new chance in their life. They expect the border to open so that they can continue their way towards the wealthier European countries. The border never opened and, in the end, they were placed in different camps throughout Greece. In the Yazidi IDP camp in Iraqi Kurdistan people do not feel safe nor hopeful. People have lost everything, not only their homes and families, some of the women are still in the hands of Daesh. Mario Rizzi’s 30-minute film »Al Intithar« (The Waiting), which is also presented in the exhibition, premiered at Berlinale Film Festival 2013. It was shot during the artist’s seven-week stay in Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian desert. The film, which presents itself as an excerpt, follows the life of a Syrian woman, Ekhlas, translating the tragic macrocosm of the Syrian war to the intimate microcosm of a relentless woman and her three children. The film »Kauther«, is a long monologue, in a bare room, over the course of a few days. The protagonist is Kauther Ayari, the first activist to give a passionate voice to Tunis rioters, on Jan 8, 2011, precariously speaking from a window of the Trade Union's central building. She incited her comrades to stand up for freedom, social justice and democratic change. With absolute openness and unconcealed intimacy, Kauther tells about herself and also addresses the build-up of 2011 and the conditions of being a woman in present day Arab society. The latter she has spent her life challenging.