CROSSING MENTAL BORDERS

exhibist talks to Özkan Gölpinar

Could you talk a bit about your professional background and how you came to focus on contemporary art in the context of globalisation and cultural diversity?

In fact I am living in a permanent state of transition. Last year I moved for the 45th time in my life, this time from Amsterdam New West to the other side of town, Amsterdam South-East. The distance between the two houses is approximately 25 km, but what is more intriguing are the differences between the inhabitants of these two parts of the city. The majority in New West consists of people from Turkey, Morocco or other countries of the Middle East, while Amsterdam South-East is dominated by people from the former Dutch colonies in South America and Africa. Around Lake Sloterplas in Amsterdam-West one can encounter Moroccan woman in djellabas jogging, youngsters arguing on the Virtual Jihad and Wahhabism or the return of ‘the hidden imam’ al-Mahdi. On the other side of the same city one can take part in a baptising ceremony at Lake Gaasperplas performed by ministers from Ghana or Nigeria. The discussions there might focus around the rise of Boko Haram or the return of Jesus Christ and the end of time. What I am trying to say is that not only Amsterdam but the whole world has changed, and over the years our societies have become increasingly complex. This complexity also has an effect on the art scene: what do we show and how do we show it? When dealing with history, whose history do we show? And why is it that when it comes to showing art from the Middle East in the Netherlands, there is often a focus on the political context, with art as an extension for human rights issues or as a tool for ‘dialogue’ with the ‘other’ on the ‘other’ side. But who is the other and what is the other side?

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