Manaf Halbouni at the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany. The artist Manaf Halbouni is the third FFO Artist in Residence to occupy the studio on the roof of the Federal Foreign Office in 2018. Manaf Halbouni will continuously develop his project “What if” from October till December 2018.
Starting from the fiction that the industrial revolution began not in Europe, but in the Ottoman Empire and the Arab region, Halbouni has fictitious generals and dictators make strategic plans to conquer the world. The artist uses a collection of historical maps he has found at flea markets and in second-hand bookshops, and, just as the colonialists did, takes a ruler to draw new borders – this time, however, through Europe. When Halbouni has the fictitious dictator and generals rename the cities and regions of Europe, giving them Arabic names, he exaggerates the fears being stoked in large parts of Germany given the current situation.
Alongside the maps, the work “What if” also includes video films and the “memoirs of a general”, in which Halbouni records the life of the fictitious General Yusef Hadid.
The German-Syrian artist Manaf Halbouni looks at topical social issues in his work. The Dresden-based artist came to prominence in 2015 with his work “Sachse auf der Flucht” (Fleeing Saxon). His work “Monument”, three buses standing vertically in front of the Frauenkirche in Dresden (February 2017) and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (November 2017), brought him international attention and recognition. Mirroring the wrecked buses used by citizens in Aleppo to erect a barricade against snipers, Halbouni created a monument for peace which transcends time and space.
The artist is represented by Galerie Katharina Maria Raab, Berlin.
Invitation to talk with the artist
During Halbouni’s three month residency at the Federal Foreign Office from October to December 2018, it will be possible to visit his studio. The artist will open his temporary studio on the Federal Foreign Office rooftop to interested visitors on Tuesday, 23 October and Tuesday, 6 November, at 6pm. Prior registration is required. The closing event is likely to take place at the end of November. We will let you know in good time.
Manaf Halbouni, born in Damascus in 1984, studied art in Damascus and Dresden. In 2016 he was awarded the Marion Ermer Prize. He has presented his work in numerous solo and joint exhibitions, including:
2018: The Island is what the sea surrounds / Dal Bahar Madwarha, Valetta/Malta European Capital of Culture
2018: Neuer Norden Zürich (New North Zürich)
2017: Berliner Herbstsalon (Berlin Autumn Salon), Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
2017: The Restless Earth, Triennale di Milano
In order to combine cultural coproduction with Berlin’s reputation as an international art location, the Federal Foreign Office has, as the first federal ministry to do so, set up an in house residence programme for artists with an international focus together with the Galleries Association of Berlin (lvbg).
A jury of experts comprising Brigitte Werneburg (critic, die tageszeitung), Christoph Tannert (curator, Künstlerhaus Bethanien) and Nana Poll (gallery owner and member of the board of lvbg) selected the artists Yvon Chabrowski (Dorothée Nilsson Gallery), Manaf Halbouni (Galerie Katharina Maria Raab) and Walter Yu (Galerie Köppe Contemporary) as FFO Artists in Residence for 2018.
The artists are entitled to use the rooftop studio in the Federal Foreign Office for their work for a three month period, after which they are given the opportunity to exhibit their works at a closing exhibition in the studio, as well as at their respective galleries. Moreover, the artists are offered a grant for the duration of their residency. At the end of the programme, a bilingual catalogue (in German and English) is published that documents the residencies and the works created over this period.