Clinging on the back of Zeus transformed into a bull, the young Princess Europa crossed the Mediterranean and launched into the unknown. After her peregrinations she was welcomed by the Cretans and prospered on their island. Her voyage, to the ‘other’, to what is ‘different’, can be seen as allegory of Europe itself.
Mythology symbolizes and prefigures the foundation of this continent. Its roots are fed by the mobility of the peoples, by the encounters and cultural exchanges between various populations. Europe has been marked by permanent migrations but also by taking in people and ideas as well as cultural confrontations.
Even though it is a quite singular city, Berlin, like so many other European cities, has been built and develops by multiple migrations, by new populations moving in over the centuries.
Berlin is also the theatre of numerous sociological mutations* whose evolution opens up enormous urban and citizen projects.
The city has in recent times welcomed in several thousand refugees and migrants – one of the greatest challenges facing the present-day building of Europe.
e.city, our cycle of events highlighting the artistic approaches of different European cities, is focusing this time on the specificity of the contemporary creativity of artists living in Berlin.
“Philoxenia” is the title of the event grouping artists who represent the plurality and cosmopolitan character of Berlin and illustrates the city’s creative and dynamic ferment.
Set out in two stages, the works of Stephen Wilks, Daniel Seiple, Stefanie Bürkle and the KUNSTrePUBLIK collective, illustrate the tensions and interrogations of a society undergoing an upheaval in the face of massive incoming migration and its integration. More than being a static and traditional exhibition, this event aims to open up the meaning of the work displayed through the participation and involvement of the public.
In this way, in spite of its fragility, Stephen Wilks’ porcelain work, Table-City, is enlivened thanks to discussions between guests at a dinner. Several hundred ceramic bottles of mineral water, created in unique and individual forms, complete the scene as a reminder of the on-going drama on the European banks of the Mediterranean.
The artist Daniel Seiple shows a similar concern, thereby setting up a workshop with Syrian refugees in Berlin, Making Waves. Their target being to build a boat and sail all around Europe.
Our space also houses an important installation by the artist Stefanie Bürkle, entitled Migrating Spaces, a work based on four years of university and artistic research on the influences of migration on urban areas. By delving into the phenomenon of Turkish re-migration, Stefanie Bürkle demonstrates through pictures and testimonies how much inter-cultural relations modify the image and structure of a city.
Furthermore, in a second phase, and in Apollonia’s garden, a few cables’ length from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, an over 7-metre high tent, entirely made of migrants’ lifejackets collected by the KUNSTrePUBLIK artists collective on the island of Lesbos, is set up. The tent evolves into an alternative parliament housing frequent citizen debates.
A whole array of committed works and perspectives by artists on our times and our society!
*D. Bocquet and P. Laborier, Sociology of Berlin, 2016