Once there was a Country

Mounira Al Solh, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Johanna Diehl, Cevdet Erek, Bengü Karaduman, José F. A. Oliver, Iz Öztat with Zişan, Wael Shawky, Elisabeth Zwimpfer
Curators: Öykü Özsoy and Susanne Weiß

›Once There Was a Country‹ turns its attention to the region that was reordered as the Ottoman Empire collapsed. The effects of these historical developments are not limited to this region, though, and can also be seen here among other issues in the current flow of refugees. In addition to the exhibition at the Kunstverein, five satellite stations create a thematic and spatial connection to public space. A hundred years ago, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire broke apart, and a large part of the region was rearranged, especially between the colonial powers of Germany, England, France, and Russia. It was during this time that the Armenian genocide occurred, starting in 1915. In 1917, the Balfour Declaration paved the way for a Jewish state in Palestine. As a further consequence of the colonialist and nationalist movements of the 19th century, the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire was finally officially dissolved in 1922, followed by the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The fatal consequences of World War I and its effects on the Middle East are still felt to this day, maintaining an agitated state in the region. This historic starting point is essential for understanding the present. The current exodus from the Middle East has a direct connection with this early 20th-century reorganization of the region. For the first time, Europe is now experiencing the consequences of this instability in the Middle East, where, since the 1940s, large numbers of people have been living in refugee camps, or have left their home countries. With the invited artists, the exhibition traces the contradictions and complexities of these historical developments, and gathers various artistic strategies for dealing with open questions, and the scope of interpretation within historiography. The narrative of ›Once There Was a Country‹ will continue in a further exhibition opening on 26 February 2016.
Öykü Özsoy is an independent curator based in Istanbul. She worked as an international fellow curator at Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Germany between June 2013 and September 2015, in the frame of International Curatorial Fellowship Program founded by Kulturstiftung des Bundes. She worked as the director of FULL Art Prize (2011 – 2012), and a curator / programme coordinator at Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center (2002 – 2010). Her curatorial interest is involved in research based artistic practice, mainly focuses on strategies of participation and collaboration and knowledge production.


Satellite stations
– Stadtbücherei Heidelberg: José F. A. Oliver
– Zentrum für Altertumswissenschaften, Universität Heidelberg: Elisabeth Zwimpfer
– Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg: Hera Büyüktaşçıyan
– Edition Staeck: Bengü Karaduman
– Pannonica: Bengü Karaduman




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