Great Art in Small Places – bye:myself at the Çanakkale Art Walk in Osnabrück

On the road again – last weekend to Osnabrück, Münster, and Marl. Saturday started with the Çanakkale Art Walk in Osnabrück.

Halil Altındere’s “Köfte Airlines”-Billboard stands in front of the Villa Schikkel and was introduced to the public at the Berlin Biennal in 2016 – and reflects of course on the handling of the refugee crises.

You’ll probably be surprised that an art show in Germany’s Westphalia has such a Turkish sounding title, and yes, initially it was a Turkish exhibition – taking place since 2006 at the city of Çanakkale. Since 2004 Çanakkale and Osnabrück have been partner cities, so already in 2015 the Çanakkale Biennal titled “Fragments” had travelled to Osnabrück after being shown in Turkey in September 2014.

Same goes for this year’s 5th edition – only that for obvious political reasons the curator Beral Madra resigned, the Biennal planned for September 2016 in Turkey has been canceled three weeks before the scheduled opening and is now ironically taking place only at its four partner venues in Osnabrück.

And while I’m personally very happy about 2017 being such a super art year, for the Çanakkale Art Walk it’s a pity since nobody seems to give a damn. Well, it’s taking place 47 km/29 miles apart from the Skulptur Projekt 2017 at Münster, and that’s serious competition. Too bad, they obviously didn’t manage to generate synergies; the artists participating in the Art Walk definitely had deserved it.

I Kunsthalle Osnabrück

Already the building that hosts the Kunsthalle – the Art Museum – is extraordinary: It’s a former Dominican church with an affiliated monastery dating back to 1283.

Since June 2017 to January 2018, the nave is embellished by Locarno born and Paris based Felice Varini. His perspective focussed op art seems to alter the room’s dimensions.

Although it looks like I drew circles on the photograph, it’s lines Felice Varini painted on the church walls. They change the perspective so the nave seems much shorter than it actually is.

But now let’s focus again at the main show: There are the life-size, merciless photographs of the notorious Boris Mikhailov, there is Halil Altındere‘s music video featuring Mohammed Abu Hajar, a refugee from Syria, now living in Berlin, which was already screened at last year’s Berlin Biennal; but there are first and foremost the fresh and original works of Joanna Schulte from Germany (formerly GDR) and London based Iranian Sohaila Sokhanvari:

Joanna Schulte - An Oliver
Joanna Schulte: “An Oliver” (“To Oliver”)
Schulte has been sending letters to a fictional Oliver without a proper address so they’ve been sent back to her. The postal stamps – and the stamp of the place where they are exhibited – give them a poetic twist. Since Schulte sent most of the letters from the GDR where her freedom to travel was limited, they are at the same time a political statement.
You can see a choice of the envelopes on Schulte’s website.
Sohaila Sokhanvari
Sohaila Sokhanvari: “Crude-Oil Paintings/Passports”
Mounted in eight glass frames, the artists shows passports…
Sohaila Sokhanvari
.. that she stamped with slogans and catch phrases imitating official
stamps. She shows how the beholder perceives these documents
Sohaila Sokhanvari
Of course Sokhanvari will teach us a lesson, but…
Sohaila Sokhanvari
…all jesting aside, they are hysterical!

II Kunst-Quartier BBK

The Kunst-Quartier BBK – the artists’ association – is located just a few steps from the Kunsthalle and hosts due to its limited space only works of four artists, including the highly political sculptures by Viron Erol Vert. By remaking them from art materials, Vert is designating everyday items, that were used by protesters as shields against police brutality, to icons.

Jakob Gautel: Maria Theodora
Jakob Gautel: “Maria Theodora”
These in total 120 pictures of women in the identical habit and the same pose are part of a autobiographic project. Maria Theodora was Gautel’s ancestor in the mid 1800s, born to a German physician and his Indonesian wife. Showing us these women from Germany and Jakarta, Gautel inspires the viewer to reflect on Maria Theodora’s existence between two cultures.

III Gesellschaft für zeitgenössische Kunst – Hase29

To have enough room for their performances, Katerina Kuznetcowa and Alexander Edisherov as well as Stefan Tschernboc were placed at the Gesellschaft für zeitgenössische Kunst – the society of contemporary art.

Stefan Tchernboc: Homo!
Stefan Tschernboc: Пeдик! (Homo!)
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the performance, but this embroidered slur should remind us of the labels sewn to prisoners stripes at labour- and concentrations camps like e. g. the pink triangle for homosexual prisoners. Today, homosexuals are not only prosecuted in countries like Russia or Chechnia, they also have a hard time once their families migrate to Western countries since their ethnic community does not necessarily become more open and tolerant.

Simultaneously Hase29 presents an exhibition with the ambiguous title RE-FORMED. On the occasion the Reformation’s 500th anniversary in 2017, five artists interpret their respective view of reforming, reforms, and reformation.

Elisabeth (Lis) Schröder "Freiheit"
Elisabeth (Lis) Schröder: “A Daily Work” (1.1.2013 – 31.12.2013)
Over 365 days – an entire year – Elisabeth (Lis) Schröder has typed on a mechanical type writer the word “Freiheit” (freedom) in different formations. This is re-formation at its best on so many levels – substantially, artistically, philosophically.

IV Villa Schlikker

This neoclassicist building – the Villa Schlikker – is the show’s most spacious venue.

The exhibition was planned for 2016 in Turkey and is titled “Homeland” – spoiler alert – which focus do you expect?!

It starts on the groundfloor with a pile of mattrasses from the refugee shelter at Holländer Strasse in Berlin by Jeanno Gaussi, who i. a. participated in the 13th documenta in 2012 – symbolizing the chaos, mismanagement, and ignorance dealing with refugees. The entrance hall’s center piece is an assemblage of 125 picked up figurines made of porcelain, clay, plaster, and gum, composed by Aikaterini Gegisian. Gegisian had participated in the project ‘Armenity – Contemporary Artists from the Armenian Diaspora’ at the 56th Biennal in Venice in 2015. The project was the winner of the Golden Lion.

Aikaterini Gegisian: The Little Refugee
Aikaterini Gegisian: The Little Refugee

On the first floor JR‘s masterpiece “Ellis Island” is screened, starring nobody less than Mr. Robert de Niro, of Italian descendance himself. Ellis Island – synonymous for the hardship of immigration, whether for political, for racial, religious, or economic reason. Written by Oscar winner Eric Roth, personated by Oscar winner Robert de Niro, directed by Paris born JR – just a masterpiece reminding us that the present topic dealing with a great number of refugees is definitely not new to the world.

JR: Ellis Island
Click to see a trailer of this wonderful film.
Hera Büyukasciyan: If the wind will not serve, take up the oars & Ahmet Elhan: Mappings
Hera Büyukasciyan:” If the wind will not serve, take up the oars” – hands as the key to alter our faith.
Ahmet Elhan:” Mappings” – getting control of a region always starts with…mapping.

If you happened to miss Stefanos Tsivapoulos’ installation “History Zero” at the Greek pavilion at the 55. Venice Biennal in 2013, here is your chance: there is a smaller version displayed on Villa Schlikker’s the second floor.

Felix Nussbaum Haus

Ghazel: Road Movie/Wanted Urgent
Ghazel: “Wanted Urgent”
I’ve seen Ghazel’s fresh, provocative posters a couple of years ago in Paris where the Teheran born artist partly lives. By her audacious, blatant searches and blurbs she points out the despair of illegal immigrants and the mercilessness and absurdity of the legal system.

Ghazel is the only artist on show at the Felix Nussbaum Haus, a museum dedicated to this great Jewish New Objectivity artist, prosecuted and finally killed by the Nazis. Felix Nussbaum (1904 – 1944) was a refugee for many years, too.

Felix Nussbaum - drei Porträts
“Self-portrait with green hat” (1927), “My mother” (1926), “My father” (1926): The Nussbaum family in the 1920s…
Stolpersteine vor der ehemaligen Villa der Familie Nussbaum
…and what’s left of them: “Stolpersteine” (tripping stones) in front of their erstwhile villa at the Schlosstrasse 11 in Osnabrück. All three of them were murdered at the concentration camp in Auschwitz.

You can learn more about the historic, political art project “Stolpersteine” on this site.

Felix Nussbaum: Self-portrait with easel
“Self-portrait with easel”, painted in 1943 at Brussels to where Nussbaum and his wife Felka Platek (1899 – 1944) had fled the Nazis.
Felix Nussbaum: Self-portrait with easel - detail
Detail from Nussbaum’s “Self-portrait with easel” – the artist is painting with nostalgia, suffering, and death.

The Felix Nussbaum Haus is an annex of the Cultur-Historical Museum and was designed by Daniel Libeskind, the architect who also created the Jewish museum in Berlin. And the two architectural concepts are very alike: long, dreary, grey concrete hallways, sharp, pointy edges. Not cozy, not homey. Hard – cold – frightening. Concrete walls run in straight axes like swards.

It’s been years now that I intended to pay this outstanding venue a visit, but you know how it is – when it’s not temporary, you don’t see the rush to go. So I’m glad I finally did it on the occasion of the Art Walk.

Gang im Felix Nussbaum Haus
Claustrophobic hallway at the Felix Nussbaum Museum. Libeskind has a great talent to transmit the venue’s topic to the architecture so that both levels intertwine.
© Referat Medien und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Felix Nussbaum Haus Luftansicht
Aerial image of the Culture-Historical Museum (on the left) and the Felix Nussbaum House.
© Gert Westdörp

Some words about Osnabrück: The city is in the South-West of Lower Saxony and prides itself to be the ‘city of peace’. It was at Osnabrück and the more or less neighboring city of Münster were the Thirty Years’ War was ended with the Treaty of Westphalia. Thirty years of war for religious reasons – nowadays of course unthinkable, right?!

That the writer Erich Maria Remarque was born in Osnabrück, bolstered the peace scheme. Remarque wrote i. a. the pacifistic novel “All quiet on the Western front”. In 1930, Lewis Milestone (no pun intended) made it to a much-praised film – it was the first film to win two Academy Awards, for Outstanding Production and Best Director.

The Erich Maria Remarque Peace Center can be visited as well.

Cheap and comfortable day tripping

Here’s a special tip for you Germany-travellers: For about 25 Euro you can travel an entire day by train within every federal country; but you are only allowed to take the regional trains, not IC or ICE. The best part is: each further person pays only 4 Euro, up to 5 persons can travel on one regional day ticket. Due to its central position, Hamburg is automatically included in three tickets (Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, and Lower Saxony (where also Bremen is included)). Osnabrück is part of Lower Saxony – so have a safe trip.

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3 Replies to “Great Art in Small Places – bye:myself at the Çanakkale Art Walk in Osnabrück”

  1. Dear Renate,

    I do not know if we had the honour to meet in occasion of the Canakkale Art Walk. I truly thank you though for such a lovely review of the show. It is for these moments that we go through all the issues to produce a show like this. I am of course very happy to hear that it caught your attention so much and yes, although it is regrettable not to have found more synergies with Münster, in its own way we adapted to the environment in which Homeland was taking place and we are grateful for any such comments.
    In the name of the whole CAW2017 team I feel like thanking you for it!
    Hopefully see you again in two years time for the next(?)

  2. Thanx so much for appreciating my review. You guys did a terrific job, I had a great and very inspiring day and will definitely be back for the next art walk!

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