Getting across, an exhibition on borders

Since the summer of 2015, one topic has overshadowed all other political issues in Europe: the influx of refugees seeking shelter from murderous civil war in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Eritrea, Nigeria and the Ukraine, as well as well as from social and political injustice, oppression and atrocities executed in the name of religion. Many were welcomed by governments, but entry was refused to many of them by others.

The differing views between the states of the European Union on how to deal with the phenomenon have not yet been reconciled, but have rather aggravated and exacerbated the situation. What was initially called a “refugee crisis” has turned into a crisis of the European Union.

The so-called Brexit in June 2016 has indicated the degree to which this crisis has intensified. The tension between European countries has sharpened, while relationships with neighbouring countries such as Turkey have worsened. A sense of fear, if not paranoia holds sway. What had seemed to be a point of debate between Europe and the Non-European world has turned into a conflict that has divided not only the EU, but also has cut straight through national populations and communities. Governments seem to be as helpless as individuals who witness a disturbing series of events, terror attacks and radicalisation of people – some recently immigrated, some 3rd generation citizens.

These developments raise serious questions about the values that shape international politics: Do we move towards a world that is increasingly globalised economically, but at the same time, compartmentalised ethnically, religiously and politically? Do we still move forward towards a world of cosmopolitanism, or do we face a world of isolationism and nationalism?

What social, political and ethical concepts are at hand in order not to be trapped in the ideology of the “fortress of Europe”? What is the alternative to the concept of the nation state, (built on the idea of ethnic, linguistic or religious homogeneity), when it is about to collapse under the pressure of forced migration? How have other countries dealt with similar situations? Where should Europe look when seeking answers to these pressing questions?


Getting across, organised by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, is curated on the premise that borders are man-made delineations, based on nothing but arbitrary decisions that nevertheless exert a massive, sometimes gruesome impact on individuals. The exhibition includes works by artists across international borders.

The exhibition will be shown at three venues – Bikaner House, India International Centre (IIC) and Vadehra Art Gallery, concurrently from Thursday, 1 – Thursday, 15 September 2016.

The exhibition features the works of artists from a cross section of cultures and, often overlapping, geographic regions. They are (in alphabetical order):

Bani Abidi (Pakistan/Germany) | Naman Ahuja (India) | Halil Altindere (Turkey) | Francis Alys (Belgium/Mexico) | Raqs Media Collective (India) | Sumit Dayal (India) | Shilpa Gupta (India) | Zarina (India) | Amar Kanwar (India) | Kimsooja (Korea/USA/France) | Eva Leitolf (Germany) | Erik Levine (USA) | André Lützen (Germany) | Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria) | Adrian Paci (Albania/Italy) | Kishor Parekh (India) | Mike Parr (Australia) | Santiago Sierra (Spain) | Roman Signer (Switzerland) | Javier Téllez (Venezuela) | Jens Ullrich (Germany) | Lin Yilin (China/USA)


In conjunction with the exhibition a discussion will take place, addressing the implications of the influx of asylum seekers on internal politics. Organised by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan in collaboration with the India International Centre (IIC), the talks will center on the idea of the nation state and its detriment.

Speakers include: Moderator: Aman Sethi (Delhi) | Mark Terkessidis (Berlin) | Aladin El-Mafaalani (Duisburg) | Vaiju Naravane (Delhi)

*Further details to follow.


A curated package of films will explore the migratory phenomena while focusing on themes of identity, nation-state and nationhood. The films will be screened at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan.

Films include: Haunted (Dir.: Limaa Yazji) | Meteorstrasse /Meteor Street/ (Dir.: Aline Fischer) | Jahaji Music (Dir.: Surabhi Sharma)
5. Zarina Hashmi_Abyss_2013

Ankunft von afrikanischen Immigranten per Boot auf den Kanarischen Inseln in Spanien, Arrival of african immigrants by boat at the canarian islands / Spain
Ankunft von afrikanischen Immigranten per Boot auf den Kanarischen Inseln in Spanien, Arrival of african immigrants by boat at the canarian islands / Spain

1. Adrian Paci_Centro di Permanenza Temporanea_Centre de détention provisoire

2. Amar Kanwar_A Season Outside

3. Bani Abidi_Shan Pipe Band LEarns the Star Spangled Banner

4. Jens Ullrich_Refugees in a State Apartment

Thursday, 1 – Thursday, 15 September 2016
Bikaner House, India International Centre (IIC), Vadehra Art Gallery
Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan

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