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Nearer the near east
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5/10/2004

Nearer the near east

Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt

According to the objective of the book fair's focal theme, the project in public space has been conceived as a contribution to an ongoing intercultural dialogue. It assembles statements by Kader Attia, Mounir Fatmi, Hassan Khan, and Rosalind Nashashibi – young artists of a generation whose members regard themselves as strangers and feel at home both in the Western and in the Arab world.


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With Max Hollein, Director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, and Martina Weinhart, curator of the project.

On the occasion of the Arab world's appearance as guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Schirn realizes a project titled 'NEARER THE NEAR EAST.' According to the objective of the book fair's focal theme, the project in public space has been conceived as a contribution to an ongoing intercultural dialogue. It assembles statements by Kader Attia, Mounir Fatmi, Hassan Khan, and Rosalind Nashashibi – young artists of a generation whose members regard themselves as strangers and feel at home both in the Western and in the Arab world. The artists will make use of large-format advertising spaces on eight buses of the Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main mbH. Relying on the simplistic means of advertising, they will temporarily enrich the urban space with pictures reflecting their individual experience. Steadily on the move, the buses will transport these snapshots from one place to another.

The Near East is nearer than we might think. In the course of the waves of migration triggered by globalization, the Arab world has long since become part of Western society. Yet this does not make it any easier to answer the crunch question on identity, one that arises with every new day: what is my identity, and what is that of the other? Life in the new country vacillates between the positive Utopia of a model of integration embedded in a multicultural society on the one hand and the insular existence of a separate society within a society on the other.

Often, the tightrope walked between the cultures is defined by a fear of losing one's own roots in a foreign country and thus one's identity. And, frequently, making friends outside one's own culture is initially not easy owing to difficulties with the language. One generation later, the situation has already changed for migrants' children. Day in, day out, they succeed in walking that thin line between acceptance or prejudice, head-scarves or bike helmets, clubbing or mosques.

The artists participating in the 'NEARER THE NEAR EAST' project also move between the various cultures and religions, confronting all the differences as part of their daily lives.

Rosalind Nashashibi, born the daughter of Irish-Palestinian parents in London in 1973, now lives in Glasgow. She has chosen two film stills from her videos 'Hreash House' and 'Blood and Fire' for 'NEARER THE NEAR EAST.' She highlights parallels between a meal taken by a Palestinian extended family during Ramadan and lunch as offered by the Salvation Army in Portobello, Scotland.

Mounir Fatmi asks the question of identity quite literally by referring to his own body. Born in 1970 in Tanger and now living in Paris, he presents himself casting a questioning look at a label that bears his name in Latin script and in Arabic, thus documenting the simultaneous divide between and the unity of two languages and two cultures.

Kader Attia has chosen two motifs from his photo series 'Correspondence.' Families living in different locations keep in touch by letter and by exchanging new photos. Born the son of Algerian parents in France, Kader Attia builds imaginary bridges between the continents by means of his photos and videos and thus becomes a cross-border messenger of family stories and histories himself.

Hassan Khan, born in London in 1975, is one of Cairo's highly creative young multi-talents. He confronts the European view with the clichéd image the other side has – in the person of a decidedly Arabic looking man who stares right back at us.

Initiated by the Schirn, the project 'NEARER THE NEAR EAST' has been made possible by the support of the Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main mbH and the Deutsche Städte-Medien GmbH. VGF has been a corporate partner of the Schirn since the beginning of 2002 and has been producing posters for display cases at its bus and train terminals as part of this long-term collaboration. VGF and DSM provide advertising spaces on eight buses for the present project. VGF also sponsors two of the participating artists by providing them with financial means. WEPA Werbepartner GmbH supports the production of the special photographic films required for the project.

Image: a work by Mounir Fatmi

Press preview: Monday, 4 October 2004, 12.00 a.m.,
Fairground forecourt between "Hammering Man" and Maritim Hotel

phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-0.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/CURATOR: Martina Weinhart.
SPONSORED BY: Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main mbH, Deutsche Städte-Medien GmbH.
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT: WEPA Werbepartner GmbH.

SCHIRN KUNSTHALLE FRANKFURT
Dorothea Apovnik
Head of Press/PR
Roemerberg
D-60311 Frankfurt am Main
buses nos. 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 46, 50, 52, 56, 61, 64, 71, 75, 78, and 79.

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