Exhibition: 13 May – 30 July 2023
Opening: Friday, 12 May 2023, 19:00
Artist Talk: Saturday, 13 May 2023, 16:00, with Katia Kameli and Valerie Chartrain, curator of the exhibition
The exhibition by Katia Kameli takes its inspiration from the Conference of the Birds by the twelfth century Persian Sufi poet Farîd-ud-Dîn Attâr. In his epic poem, we follow thousands of birds on their journey in search of the mythical bird Simurgh, an allegory for the divine. After travelling through seven valleys, only thirty birds reach their destination and ultimately realize that Simurgh is their own reflection. The poet seems to suggest that every journey is a path of self-discovery.
For the exhibition The Canticle of the Birds, the birds from the allegorical poem are shaped out of ceramics, an ancient material present in many cultures, making symbolic reference to the origin of life. The sculptures also double as musical instruments, akin to ocarinas, and can be played as flutes; they can be heard in the new film by Katia Kameli, Le Cantique des oiseaux, which is premiering at ifa Gallery Berlin. The film brings together dancers at the garden of Rayol on the French Mediterranean coast, each representing a different bird species. Each bird and thus each dancer follows distinct choreography and produces a unique sound. The dancers were directed by Youness Anzane and are accompanied by musical compositions by Aurélie Sfez.
The film is also an adventure in translation. Far from being a simple transposition from one language to another, translation serves here as a permeable mechanism that blends traditions, histories, and cultures. These stories all seem to be versions of a single original, hybrid story with plural and porous influences.
In this work, Katia Kameli also offers her own translation of the story by adapting its elements into various forms and adding new dimensions of music, dance, and geography. She shows us how these birds' search for a better future doubles as a metaphor for life: they have traveled together as a group and reunite at the end of the journey. This reunion can be understood as a step forward, a utopia that shows what is possible together.
The exhibition combines Katia Kameli's ceramic sculptures, watercolors, silk paintings, her sketches, and the film into one poetic whole. Kameli invites visitors on an inner journey imbued with spirituality and beauty, a reflection on our own quests and identities. What are we if not the sum of all the stories that came before us?
Katia Kameli lives in Paris and works with various media, primarily film and video. Since the early 2000s, she has been creating a dense, multifaceted body of work. With her dual French and Algerian culture, she crosses boundaries between territories and interrogates the blind spots of history. She connects far-flung facts, ties loose links, and gives voice to silenced words to write counter-narratives. Her research fuses and interlaces to integrate manifold perspectives. She was shortlisted for the 2022 Aware prize and honoured by the Mondes Nouveaux program.
Valerie Chartrain, lives in Paris and Berlin. Since 2002, Valerie Chartrain has been developing curatorial and discursive events both on her own and collectively. She works with artists, galleries, and other institutions to produce texts, exhibitions, catalogues, and events. She is the co-editor-in-chief and co-founder of Petunia, a feminist and intersectional magazine on art and culture since 2009. She is also a creative strategist and conceptualizes, implements, and directs projects that help organizations envision their futures.
Guided tour through the exhibition
with Carlotta Fritz
on 25 May and 15 June 2023, 18:00
and by appointment at ifa-galerie-berlin(at)ifa.de
Le Roman Algérien (The Algerian Novel) by Katia Kameli (original with subtitles)
Saturday 3 June 2023, 20:00
SİNEMA TRANSTOPIA Lindower Str. 20/22/Haus C, 13347 Berlin
After the screening, there will be a talk with the artist and director Katia Kameli.
In cooperation with Sinema Transtopia, ifa Gallery Berlin presents the film Le Roman Algérien by Katia Kameli, which is conceived in three chapters and sensitively illuminates a nation’s complex relationships with its history and the role of images in the construction of the national novel and its archetypes.
The Parade of the Birds
A children’s art program with Svenja Wolff
For children aged 6-9
Sunday 11 June 2023, 11:00 to 13:00
Contact and opening hours ifa Gallery Berlin
Alya Sebti und Inka Gressel – Gallery directors
Tuesday – Sunday: 14:00–18:00
ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen promotes a peaceful and enriching coexistence between people and cultures worldwide. ifa supports artistic and cultural exchange in exhibition, dialogue and conference programmes, and it acts as a centre of excellence for international cultural relations. It is part of a global network and relies on sustainable, long-term partnerships. ifa is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg and its capital Stuttgart.
About the ifa Galleries
The ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen Galleries in Stuttgart and Berlin present contemporary art in a global perspective, addressing post-colonial movements and artistic reflections on the themes of migration and cultural transfer. The work of the ifa Galleries is based on seeing the world from a diversity and plurality of perspectives, discovering new stories, and shaping emancipatory processes, interactions, and artistic spaces. Our focus is on long-term relationships with artists, partners, and visitors, and our exhibitions and education programmes are developed through practices of collaboration that trace global entanglements and piece them together in new forms of narrative.
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