Dignity Might Be Found on Mars

Cover image © n.b.k. / Halil Altindere

There’s no place for dignity in this world. A powerful, yet uncomfortable statement introduces you to “Space Refugee”,  the exhibition by Halil Altindere presented at n.b.k. for this year’s Berlin Art Week. As for the news headlines, the city’s day to day life, Berlin is now filled with the reality of the refugee crisis. And so are the Turkish artist’s pieces.

"Space Refugee“ is based on Mohammad Faris, a man that symbolizes the pure irony of our time. Faris is a Syrian refugee condecorated almost 30 years ago as a Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest distinction of the USSR at the moment. The awards, including the Order of Lenin, were given after he spent 7 days in a Soviet space station in 1987. Outstanding and proud, he was contributing a new record to the world competition of Space Race.

Now, after escaping Al Assad’s regime, mainly supported by Russia, Muhammad Faris leads a real race: bringing peace back to his home country, or at least surviving it.

This irony present in the modern day scenery is the main highlight of the show. Halil Altindere proposes – since the only apparent space for refugees turned out to be Turkey – that we should send them to Mars. The artist states they could start their own colonies. After all, these fellows have resigned on all of their belongings on Earth.

Altindere’s work is a journey itself, taking you from the actual pieces of what we define as outer space, where Mohammad Faris traveled, to a virtual reality trip into Mars colonization. The artist created a VR installation piece, which featured two Syrian boys exploring the Red Planet. The journey drags you into their path, closely binding you with it.

Within this experience you can feel the struggle of what it means to seek refuge. For a moment, you can accompany these people on their way that, in a polemic way, Altindere offers as an alternative to solve the problem of homelessness. Whether it turns out to be Europe, America or any other place, every human deserves one to call home. 

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Halil Altındere  "Space Refugee" @ Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k)
September 15 – November 6, 2016
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