One Thousand and One Roses – Silvina Der-Meguerditchian
The owner of “One Thousand and One Roses” was Armenian, a boy from Dörtyol who had been orphaned during the Genocide and had made it to Aleppo. His name was Hovhannes Haroutyunian. He had dedicated himself to growing flowers on a small plot of land in the neighborhood of Azizieh, which was both his home and his place of work. He was the first flower grower and florist in Aleppo, which, at the time, was an important but still provincial city. Alongside carnations, he was the first in the city to grow gladioli and dahlias (the dahlias he grew can be seen in the photographs).
It is not clear how he was able to obtain such a choice plot of land in the city’s best neighborhood (even today, Azizieh is considered to be almost the only ancient and upper-class district of Aleppo). Perhaps, like many other orphans who had reached the city after the Genocide, he had learned a craft and had been able to purchase the land with the money he had earned. He died in 1990. Today, the One Thousand and One Roses store still stands in Aleppo, in the corner of that same plot of land. But it is in ruins, and only grass grows there.
I wish these memories could function like the ancient seeds in the garden of Minerva, in Salerno, which when discovered during an archaeological excavation was once again fertilised by light and water and blossomed with species that no longer existed.
One Thousand and One Roses
aus der Serie “Texture of Identity”
Farbig laminierte Foto-Reproduktionen, Baumwollgarn und Wolle
250 x 86 cm
Courtesy Silvina Der-Meguerditchian
The exhibition departs from the Kunsthalle’s location and history in the dynamic urban fabric of the city – between representation, reconstruction, and luxury. Kunsthalle’s team developed this exhibition under pandemic conditions – in other words, at a time when structures have become visible and the categories of order and disorder, safety and security, inside and outside have been called into question. Observing the closing of many shops and small scale economies due to pandemie conditions, the team has researched on certain locations in the city center around an urban pedestrian triangular map, which frames global climate crisis, our connection with nature and also current urban structures and city furniture.
Sina Ataeian Dena: Ahvaz (2018/2021)
Ahvaz, the capital of Iran’s main oil province, in the south-west of the country, was just 80km away from the frontline of the Iran-Iraq war. According to independent reports, Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons 387 times in that region during eight years of war. The chemicals were made in the Soviet Union, East and West Germany. The mustard gas killed combatants and civilians alike and remained in the soil. After the war, and due to global warming, the city slowly became hotter and hotter. The chemically poisoned soil slowly dried out. Ahvaz nowadays is officially the hottest city on Earth. The wind came and swept the dust up into the air. Ahvaz then officially became the number one in yet another area: It is the most polluted city on earth. Around 290 days a year there is a thick haze mixed with chemicals called ‘Sand Storms.’ The moment the oil is depleted Ahvaz will become a ghost town. A big wave of climate migrants. A tsunami of cancer! For most people, apocalyptic global warming is still something that is coming in the future. For us, people from Ahvaz, it has already happened. The red line has been crossed. As part of Off-sites (24/7) the artist works with the Kunsthalle team to adapt the filmic space at the street level to relate the content with global climate change protests especially initiated by school kids and long-term marathoner activists.
Regina José Galindo: Raíces (2015)
Staged in the Botanical Garden of Palermo in 2015, Regina José Galindo‘s performance Raíces responded to one of the biggest migration movements in Europe took place. In her work, José Galindo broaches issues of coexistence and the relationality between human beings and nature. During the performance the garden’s trees and plants originating from all over the world became the protagonists. By inviting immigrant residents to Palermo to hug the roots of these plants and trees, Galindo created a space in which different beings were living together in a peaceful environment. In this sense, her work aims to reconsider the connection with the origin of tenants.
In the exhibition State and Nature we present one of the 21 images from her photo series capturing the performance. Situated in an empty shop on the Luisenstraße 24facing the Lichtentaler Allee, questions arise about the human-induced existence and cultivation of the trees and their connection to institutional agendas.
Cengiz Tekin: Pastoral Symphony (2021)
Cengiz Tekin’s work constantly alludes to potential crises, and utilises the forms, languages and strategies of art not only in rebellious ways, but also through expressing actual rebellion with the power of silence and resistance. The video installation entitled Pastoral Symphony (2021) by the Diyarbakır-based Kurdish artist shows the destruction of centuries-old settlement structures by gigantic dam projects. He asks where the boundary lies between the environment human beings create and the collapse of nature in currently distressed areas. This new commission was produced in different parts of Mesopotamia; especially in the ancient towns and districts located along the river and water resources that are damaged by governmental decisions and regulations. Despite protests and rejection by civil organisations and communal projects, these sites with archeological history and values have been flooded, or abandoned. Precisely, on the 1st of April last year, not as a joke; for instance the water levels of the dammed Tigris River reached an elevation of 498.2m, covering the whole town at Hasankeyf. As part of Off-sites (24/7) the Kunsthalle team proposed to take the double channel videos out at the public domain and present within a street with a history of how water has shaped city structure and street architecture from earlier stages of human settlement in Baden-Baden.
State and Nature is curated by Çağla İlk and Misal Adnan Yıldız with Hendrik Bündge and Benedikt Seerieder.
The exhibitions and projects of the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden within the framework of State and Nature are supported by:
Funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation).
Funded by the Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media).
For your protection and ours, please be aware of the current hygiene and protection measures associated with COVID-19 prior to each exhibition visit.
DAF (Dynamic Acoustic Research) – U-
Light and sound installation in Lichtentaler Allee park
The collective DAF (Dynamic Acoustic Research), which understands itself as an unconfined community that has evolved under the mentorship of Jan St. Werner at the Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg, approaches the audience both acoustically and visually with its work from the series U- (2021). The backlit sign with a white U on a blue background installed in the park at Lichtentaler Allee is surrounded by noises reminiscent of the soundscapes of underground transportation systems: a rhythmic thumping, a heavy grinding, interspersed with bright ringing. The spontaneously adaptive transformation of the site through its connection to a symbolic network undermines the absolute unconditionality of reality. The work opens the space for real and imaginary possibilities and the places and non-places in which they connect.
Sound installation in the park at Lichtentaler Allee
Opening May 12, 2021
Encourage The Stream (2021) by Jan St. Werner, half of the electronic music group Mouse on Mars, functions as an acoustic amplification of the Oos River, which flows through the park as the heart of Baden-Baden and shapes its nature. In an attempt to communicate with the Oos, Werner places a microphone just above the water and transports the sound of the river through loudspeakers beyond the riverbank into the park toward the Kunsthalle. Thereby, Werner creates the possibility to explore and perceive the Oos at different frequencies of sound (acoustically) and create new spatial relationships. The active act of listening creates a perceptual experience of distance and proximity. The moment when these two levels mix acoustically creates a connection that, beyond listening, triggers cognitive processes and transforms one’s way of seeing. In this work, the acoustic supersedence of space and time also stands for engagement with the forces of nature. It is therefore no coincidence that the first large-scale public art work commissioned by Çağla İlk and Misal Adnan Yıldız for their tenure as directors of the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden is a single project of an experimental artistic practice that brings together the fields of visual art and sound.
The program begins with Yael Bartana’s photographic work Resurrection I-II (2020). Displayed on billboards in several locations in the city, the work touches on questions of cultural dominance of public space and identitary attribution and belonging, as well as appropriation of pictorial schemes in the media and artistic approaches. The photographs show the artist with a half-veiled face and a live rabbit on her arm, a deliberate allusion to the highly symbolic performances of Joseph Beuys. In the year of Beuys’ 100th birthday, Bartana’s visual reinterpretation challenges, as she says, the “devout and priestly nature of the art world, as well as the authority of the traditionally male artist type.”
Resurrection I-II was created in the fall of 2020 at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden during the Jewish holidays of Jamim Noraim, the ten days of reverence between Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) that conclude the past year and pave the way for new beginnings. In the weeks surrounding the Christian Easter, which also celebrates new beginnings, Bartana’s somber photographs prompt a contrasting tension in the springtime urban space of Baden-Baden.
“Buraya bakın, burada, bu kara mermerin altında
Bir teneffüs daha yaşasaydı
Tabiattan tahtaya kalkacak bir çocuk gömülüdür
Devlet dersinde öldürülmüştür.”1
Ece Ayhan, “Meçhul Öğrenci Anıtı,” Devlet ve Tabiat (1973)
With newly conceived works and artistic contributions by:
Andreas Achenbach, Sina Ataeian Dena, Khaled Barakeh, Yael Bartana, Mehtap Baydu, Alfredo Ceibal, Mahmut Celayir, DAF (Dynamische Akustische Forschung), Simone Demandt, Egemen Demirci & Sunette L. Viljoen, Simon Denny, Silvina Der Meguerditchian, Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani, Regina José Galindo, Anike Joyce Sadiq, Stelios Kallinikou, Henrik Olesen, Alexandra Pirici, Agnieszka Polska, Jimmy Robert, Robodynamische Diffusion: RDD ( Michael Akstaller, Nele Jäger, Oliver Mayer, Jan St. Werner ), Gabriel Rossell Santillán, Neda Saeedi, Cengiz Tekin, Anton Vidokle, Jan St. Werner
State and Nature is the first major exhibition presented by the team under the new direction at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden. The exhibition departs from the Kunsthalle’s location and history in the dynamic urban fabric of the city – between representation, reconstruction, and luxury. Kunsthalle’s team developed this exhibition under pandemic conditions – in other words, at a time when structures have become visible and the categories of order and disorder have been called into question.
Situated in the tapering city park of Lichtentaler Allee, the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, as a state-run institution, is an ideal place for enquiry into the changing relationship between the state and nature -two entities which have a massive impact on human lives. The exhibition is thus also a critical reflection on the heritage and reception of the Kunsthalle in relation to the surrounding nature and an attempt to re-evaluate policies of representation, attributions of the self and others, and social and economic infrastructures.
Inspired by Ece Ayhan’s anthology of poems Devlet ve Tabiat [State and Nature] (1973), particularly the above quoted lines from “Monument of the Unknown Student,” the eponymous exhibition deals with transitions in the relationships between these two entities. For it is often more than purely binary: the assumption that nature exists only when it is untouched by humans or that state power is exercised only between humans, has long ceased to be true. Ece Ayhan, a native of the Aegean, was a prominent and controversial protagonist of the so-called İkinci Yeni movement, which revolutionized Turkish-language literature. The inspirational power of his writing emancipated poetry’s capacity to speak about non-privileged people, invisible communities and subtle gestures. In his work, the state appears not as the force ordering the chaos of nature but as an unpredictable energy, which people are at the mercy of; nature, on the other hand, appears as the utopia of lost reason. This political reading of nature and state also characterises the exhibition.
In particular, the newly commissioned art works and collaborations generated for State and Nature provide a framework for revisiting these two concepts and looking at the Kunsthalle’s immediate surroundings through different eyes. The works call for a new perspective on historical developments of state, citizenship, and social order, point to limited worldly resources, and ask genealogical questions about human presence on earth.
The video installation Pastoral Symphony(2021) by Diyarbakır-based Kurdish artist Cengiz Tekin shows the destruction of centuries-old settlement structures by gigantic dam projects. He asks where the boundary lies between the environment human beings create and the collapse of nature in currently distressed areas from Mesopotamia to Central America. Mehtap Baydu’s new sculptural work has a clear mythological reference to the female ontology of governance: in Şahmaran(2021), the Berlin-based artist with Zazaic roots refers to the legendary figure from the folk art of Anatolia, Iraq, and Iran, who symbolizes the vulnerability of nature and female fertility. Her immortality is also an empowering symbol of female wisdom and resilience.
In the early morning hours of October 4, 2020, Yael Bartana staged her new performance Days of Awe(2020) on the roof of the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden. The artist transformed this experience into a new film (The Werewolf (WT) (2021)), which was created for the Kunsthalle and will premiere here. A musician welcomes the rising sun by blowing several times into a shofar, a musical instrument made from a ram’s horn, which in Jewish tradition is sounded exclusively on Yom Kippur. The sound of the shofar was amplified and spread throughout Baden-Baden. Yael Bartana thus also refers to interconnected aspects of German and Jewish history, especially in the context of this year’s nationwide celebration of the anniversary of “1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany.”
Departing from the complex residue of colonial history on the island of Cyprus, Cypriot artist Stelios Kallinikou’s photographic works Flamingo Theatre(2015) feature migratory birds and fighter jets thundering through the sky. They form poetic choreographies and dissolve the supposed opposition between the state and nature. Through this form of coevality, the British armed forces and the flamingos that repeatedly congregate on their migratory routes in Cyprus become agents of a smoldering geopolitics and its consequences for the ecosystem.
In Two Shades of Green(2021), Neda Saeedi directs her artistic gaze towards a possible future in which architecture and plants are intimately connected. Her vision of infrastructure enables a coexistence that promotes mutual flourishing, instead of driving cables and concrete pipes through the living earth and conceiving of nature and human life as opposites. For her installation, the Iranian artist collected leaves from walks in Lichtentaler Allee, where numerous plant species from all over the world have been planted and raised for two centuries and transformed them into a new kind of herbarium.
Agnieszka Polska’s video The Longing Gaze(2021) connects questions of relationship and consensus to intimate togetherness, without disregarding the technologized biopower of global capitalism. The Corona crisis has shown how sophisticated surveillance apparatuses spy on and record our lives. At the same time, they have become our only remaining access to the world; a world that reaches us through digital devices, as our bodies are isolated further from each other in the face of the virus.
Entitled Synch, there will now be a new space at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden dedicated to collections, collectives, and creative ideas beyond the temporary exhibitions. Here, as part of State and Nature, the two-hundred-year-old sketches and paintings by German painter Andreas Achenbach will meet one of the research projects supported by the Kunsthalle. Robodynamic Diffusion (RDD) is an innovative instrument that unfolds sound waves through spatial effects. The sound generated combines with the imaginary sounds of landscape paintings, seascapes, and other examples of German Romanticism that augur entropy, disorder, and damage.
The production of new works is funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation).
State and Nature will be expanded through a discussion, performance, and event programme with Alexandra Pirici, Regina José Galindo, Mehtap Baydu, and Denise Ferreira da Silva, among others, which will be announced before the opening day on www.kunsthalle-baden-baden.de.
State and Nature is co-conceived by the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden team.
 Parallel to the preparation of the exhibition and accompanying publication, selected poems by Ece Ayhan will be translated into German for the first time. This poem has been translated into English by Talat S. Halman, entitled “Monument of the Unknown Student”:
[…] Look here, underneath this black marble
Is buried a child who would have come to the blackboard
From nature if he had one more breath of life
He was killed in the class on Government
Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden has been organizing editions since the 1990s. There have been many artists who have worked together with the Kunsthalle to provide timely offers for our visitors, audiences and communities.
They say, “Every collector collects themself” but we add, every edition is an opportunity to preserve the zeitgeist. Considering the structural changes we initiate at the Kunsthalle since the beginning of our appointment, we have also decided to rethink the editions with the currency of our time.
We present artwork editions, which might not only bring financial support for the loss of ticket sales during the pandemic but also put forward a new way of collecting, preserving and being engaged with artistic research and production.
What you can not find during the Covid-19 pandemic at the art market is released as special opportunities through conversations, studio visits, commissions and also research on further production possibilities. We would like to connect with a new profile and generation of collectors, who are interested in being involved with the process of artists and their studios in Post Covid-19.
Momentous Editions are developed to revise the negotiations between the institution and the artists based on the necessities of our time, such as solidarity, collaborative thinking and support structures. They are available to our network, and they also operate as entry points for those who want to be engaged with the research and content development at the Kunsthalle. Each one is numbered and signed with love, hope and passion here. Starting from 300 euro, they target a range of interests with diverse motivations.
We are thankful to Yael Bartana, Mehtap Baydu, Egemen Demirci and Assaf Kimmel who have actively participated in the discussions for imagining a future Kunsthalle together with the experience of practicing in Germany. They present recent editions from their work to support the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden.