bê welat - the unexpected storytellers

26 June–15 August 2021

Event Series

nGbK, Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin


Deniz Aktaş, Havin Al-Sindy, Beizar Aradini, Nuveen Barwari, Mehmet Ali Boran, Savaş Boyraz, Mahmut Celayir, Fatoş Irwen, Miro Kaygalak, Elif Küçük, Şener Özmen, Zelal Özkan, Hêlîn Şahin


Hogir Ar, Mizgîn Müjde Arslan, Mihemedê Beyro, Yildiz Çakar, Özgür Çiçek, Ali Kemal Çınar, Hesen Ildiz, Hero Kurda, Mîrza Metîn, Hêja Netirk, Fatma Savci, Karosh Taha, Diako Yazdani, Soleen Yusef, Helim Yûsiv, Berfin Zenderlioğlu

Project group

Bilal Ata Aktaş, Elif Küçük, Şener Özmen, Duygu Örs, Engin Sustam

The group show »bê welat – the unexpected storytellers« looks at a wide range of artistic approaches used to make sense of Kurdish realities – largely shaped by communal depression, acts of resistance, trauma, and various conditions of war, colonialism, language prohibitions and states of exile. The focus of this exhibition is on ›bê welat‹, a condition of home- and statelessness that calls for the rendition and design of new emancipatory spaces. In this spirit, nGbK will not only be used as a static venue: instead of building on a tradition of ephemerality and outside authorship, the broad programme, curated by fellow Kurdish artists and intellectuals, constitutes an invitation to critically engage with the impact state violence, (neo)colonialism, assimilation laws and sovereignty of authorship have on Kurdish contemporary arts.

While ›Kurdishness‹ is globally tied to images of political activism and anti-colonial resistance, Kurdish artistic interventions are often misunderstood as something supposedly unexpected. But they, too, can be seen as part of a larger Kurdish decolonial practice and self-positioning. Based on the fading tradition of ›dengbêjs‹ - musical bards who orally preserve Kurdish pasts and presents - the aim is to explore newer artistic methods of narrating and materialising Kurdish realities. »bê welat« exhibits works that connect Kurdistan and its various diasporas. These range from re-interpretations of traditional aesthetics, photography, painting all the way to digital sculpting and video art. In their works, each of the selected artists redefine geography, language and bodies among other aspects. The exhibition’s accompanying programme will expand around ›bê welat‹ through conversations with writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians and scholars. By examining different arts genres such as Kurdish music, theatre, literature and film, the programme aims to facilitate a multidisciplinary exchange within and between Kurdistan’s pluralistic contemporary art scene. »bê welat - the unexpected storytellers« aspires to move away from nostalgia, romanticization and the ever present orientalist tropes, to bring to light material connectivities as well as strategies and perspectives of and on Kurdish resilience.


Supported by