Taswir – Pictorial Mappings of Islam and Modernity

Künstler: Ali Kaaf, Hale Tenger, Joseph Semah, Marwan, Moataz Nasr, Mona Hatoum, Nalini Malani, Parastou Forouhar, Rebecca Horn, Sadegh Tirafkan, Shahzia Sikander, Susan Hefuna, Taysir Batniji, Timo Nasseri, Wolfgang Laib, Abdulnasser Gharem, Buthayna Ali, Etel Adnan, Maliheh Afnan, Murat Morova, Nja Mahdaoui, Sobhi al-Zobaidi, Joshua Borkovsky, Shady El Noshokaty
Ausstellung: 05.11.2009 - 11.01.2010
Veranstalter: Martin-Gropius-Bau
Martin-Gropius-Bau bei art-report
Stadt: Berlin
Homepage: Martin-Gropius-Bau

“Taswir – Pictorial Mappings of Islam and Modernity” is an exhibition mounted by the Berliner Festspiele in the Martin-Gropius-Bau that takes a contemporary look at Islamic forms of visual expression. The exhibition focuses on three major themes: Calligraphy, Ornament and Miniatures. It places specimens of classical Islamic art in the context of modern and contemporary output in the fields of graphics, drawing, painting, photography, video art, installation, sound and sculpture.

Calligraphy: The exhibition presents Islamic forms of writing primarily from a visual point of view and addresses the phenomena of writing, notation and movement. The emphasis is on the visual and performative aspects of writing as an art form in its own right. We will be showing classical exhibits of Koran manuscripts of the most diverse origins as well as Persian and Ottoman calligraphic sheets and sketch books dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, which the exhibition contrasts with forms of artistic expression characteristic of European Modernism and contemporary artists from East and West, such as Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Maliheh Afnan , Etel Adnan , Wolfgang Laib , William Forsythe, Song Dong and Rebecca Horn .

Ornament: This section examines the basic geometrical figurations of ornamentation in architecture, interior decoration, and arts and crafts. Architectural drawings and textile patterns are displayed that reveal the cosmic, mathematical formal principle of the ornamental not only as a basic principle of architecture, but also as an ordering principle for society and state. The works of a number of critical contemporary artists, such as Mona Hatoum , Susan Hefuna , Parastou Forouhar and Hale Tenger , illuminate the ambivalence of hierarchy and order, perfection and power, symmetry and asymmetry, impotence and violence.

Imageries in miniatures and painting: The exhibition looks at the figurative imagery of Persian, Indian and Ottoman miniature painting in close association with poetry and literature, especially the great Persian epics about such famous pairs of lovers as “Yusuf and Zulaykha”, “Layla and Majnun” or “Khusraw and Shirin”. At the same time the imagery of the traditional “Miraculous Journey of the Prophet” and of Mogul painting indicates a migration of narrative forms that reveal biblical, Persian, Arabian and European influences, thus demonstrating the extreme openness of Islamic imagery.

Another section entitled “Prophet and Portrait / Who is Afraid of Representation” is devoted to the pictorial representation of Muhammad in Ottoman, Persian and Mogul book illustration in the light of contemporary works on the problem of the representability of the human face. The whole exhibition follows a poetic trajectory in which East and West, classical and contemporary trends, Islam and Modernism , come together in new ways. The curators create a vivid kaleidoscope of visual and acoustic references, different forms of artistic expression, and historical allusions. Following the Mnemosyne Atlas of the Hamburg art historian Aby Warburg, the exhibition shows traditional Persian, Arabian and Ottoman imagery against the background of contemporary artistic trends. It calls for a reconsideration of the practice of keeping “Orient” and “Occident” in watertight compartments while subjecting the roots of the traditional European view of the “West” to critical scrutiny.

Important national and international libraries and museums – such as the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, the British Museum and British Library in London, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, or the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon and the Islamic Museum SMB – have made precious objects of Islamic art available as loans.

Over thirty artists from the international art scene have agreed to take part in the exhibition by showing important works, some of them for the first time in Germany (as of June 2009).

Abdulnasser Gharem (Saudi Arabia)
Ali Kaaf (Syria, Germany)
Buthayna Ali (Syria, Canada)
Etel Adnan (Lebanon, France)
Hale Tenger (Turkey)
Joseph Semah (Netherlands)
Maliheh Afnan (Palestine, UK)
Marwan (Syria, Germany)
Moataz Nasr (Egypt)
Mona Hatoum (Lebanon, UK)
Murat Morova (Turkey)
Nalini Malani (India)
Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisia)
Parastou Forouhar (Iran, Germany)
Rebecca Horn (Germany)
Sadegh Tirafkan (Iran, Canada)
Shady El Noshokaty (Egypt)
Shahzia Sikander (Pakistan, USA)
Sobhi al-Zobaidi (Palestine, Canada)
Susan Hefuna (Egypt, Germany)
Taysir Batniji (Palestine, France)
Joshua Borkovsky (Israel)
Timo Nasseri (Germany)
Wolfgang Laib (Germany)