A project about deserted islands of the Mediterranean

27 October–2 December 2012
Opening: 26 October 2012


NGBK, Oranienstraße 25


Fabian Bechtle, Desertmed Kollektiv, Giulia Di Lenarda, Giuseppe Ielasi, Leon Kahane, Deborah Ligorio, Armin Linke, Amedeo Martegani, Renato Rinaldi, Giovanna Silva , Stefanos Tsivopoulos, Bik van der Pol, Luca Vitone


Daniele Ansidei, Aristide Antonas, Elina Axioti, Giulia Bruno, Antonia Dika, Laura Fiorio, Stefano Graziani, Franck Leibovici, Donato Ricci

Project group

Fabian Bechtle, Wilfried Kuehn, Armin Linke, Marina Sorbello, Antje Weitzel

Desertmed is an interdisciplinary research project. The “blind spots” on the European map serve as its subject matter: approximately 300 uninhabited islands in the Mediterranean Sea. A group of artists, architects, writers and theoreticians travelled to about 40 of the —often difficult to access— islands in search of clues, impartially cataloguing information that can be interpreted in multiple ways. The result is a pool of photographs, audio and video recordings, presented along with further artistic contributions. They examine the myriad ways in which the individual islands are used and - accordingly - their significant political, economic, and historical interrelationships.



27.10. 2012, 17:00, NGBK gallery
Guided tour through the exhibition with the NGBK working group and members of the Desertmed Collective.

27. & 28.10. 2012, 12:00 – 18:00, Spree waters
Birgit Auf der Lauer, Anja Bodanowitz (arts mediation, NGBK) in cooperation with the canoe club Kanuclub zur Erforschung der Stadt
Islands-hopping (Trip Nr. O2/27281O2O12)

Islands-hopping is a canoe excursion to different types of islands in the Spree waters. Whether WW2 remnant, technological masterpiece, industrial area or deserted refuge for aquatic birds — several nondescript islands are located in the federal waterways between Berlin’s Treptower Park and Schillingbrücke. In addition to canoeing, we will use observation, drawing, mapping and description in order to explore the islands from a distance — for accessing the islands is mostly prohibited.

With their “Reiseagentur” (“travel agency”) Birgit Auf der Lauer and Anja Bodanowitz have been developing the NGBK arts mediation programme since mid-2012. Since 2011, the canoe club Kanuclub zur Erforschung der Stadt has developed cultural education projects in cooperation with the Kreuzberg Museum. More information here:

17.11. 2012, 19:00, NGBK 1st floor
Elke Krasny
The Insular. On Strategies of Hypermodern Production of Space
Museum islands are spectacular and (mis)calculating embodiments of the genius globi and the genius loci under the conditions of the accelerating neoliberalism and its crises. Insular productions of space allow to critically decipher the signatures of hypermodernity, which is as much a spectacular staging as well as a great failure.

Elke Krasny is Senior Lecturer at the Academy of Visual Arts of Vienna, curator and urbanist currently working on architecture and urban processes of transformation, politics of memory, processes of identification, logics of representation and feminist historiography.

21.11.2012, 19:00, NGBK 1st floor
Aristide Antonas, Elina Axioti
Islands Protocols

Deserted islands are considered places with no established protocols. The uselessness of their isolated lands serves as a promise for different descriptions and narratives. The talk will focus on two established protocols in the two former prison islands of Makronissos and Yaros in Greece.

Aristide Antonas is an architect, academic and writer, currently based in Athens and Berlin. He is the head of the Antonas office (nominee for a Mies Van der Rohe Award, 2009 and for a Iakov Chernikov Prize, 2011). He is associate professor of architecture at the University of Thessaly, Greece. Elina Axioti is an architect and independent curator. In Athens she co-founded the creative office Lamb and Lamp and the project Floater magazine. Axioti lectures on cultural representations and new media at the University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Lesbos.

28.11. 2012, 19:00, NGBK 1st floor
Volkmar Billig
Islands. A History of Fascination

The idea of a “desert island,” that is, the association between “island” and “solitary existence,” seems to be self-evident. Looking at the etimology of the “island” however shows that this alleged self-evidence is deceiving. Pre-modern cultures in general did not have a fascination with “deserted” islands nor the desire of the tourist to experience this solitude. Departing from these obser-vations, Volkmar Billig explores the modern relation between “island” and “solitude.”

Volkmar Billig studied cultural studies, philosophy and religious studies. He did his PhD about the idea of the “island” and their fascination throughout modernity. In 2012 his monograph Inseln. Geschichte einer Faszination was published by Matthes & Seitz, Berlin.

02.12.2012, 18:00, NGBK gallery
Armin Linke, Wilfried Kuehn, Marina Sorbello and Antje Weitzel in conversation

The makers of the exhibition and members of the working group discuss DESERTMED from their individual perspectives — as artist, architect or curator. The main question of this conversation will be how artistic research processes and archives can be transferred productively into an exhibition format as well as create experiences for a public.

Armin Linke, artist and photographer, is part of the Desertmed Collective. Wilfried Kuehn is an architect and a co-founder of the architecture studio Kuehn Malvezzi. Marina Sorbello and Antje Weitzel are both curators and collaboratively run the project space and association uqbar.