Workshop: Concept

What is Kurdish? What could be the original artistic contribution of Kurds to a globalized culture? These questions were the basic issue of a workshop held at Sylemania, Iraq, from Nov. 9 -15. The workshop was attended by sixteen younger artists from this city, and conducted by Michael Fehr, professor at the University of the Arts Berlin.

The workshop aimed at supporting the Kurds own search for there own identity as much as it reaches out to a process of self-definition and self-reflection, and is not led by nationalistic or aggressive motives. Thus, the workshop was set out to find and define or re-define the unique, specific, positive and constructive elements of the Kurdish culture in all media many of which have been lost, destroyed, or over-run by the ramifications of the different wars as well as by general developments like the rapid technization of the country.

The leading idea of the workshop has been to look at the Kurdish colors as an historical as well as continuously existing and very specific element of Kurdish culture, and start a research on their quality as well as appearance at historic sites as much as in actual every-day culture. Thus the workshop started with an excursion to the Kurdish Textile-Museum at Erbil/Hawler, where the participants were to collect the different colors from rugs and textiles on display. A next step was to collect soil of different hue on a tour into the countryside, all with the aim to create something like a catalogue of Kurdish Colors. Further steps included the development and realization of individual artistic strategies to the appearance of specific colors within the context of the City of Sylemania. The workshop concluded with a presentation of all results at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sylemania, which is still under construction.

The workshop has been made possible by funds of the Cultural Office of the City of Sylemania. We owe much thanks to Lolan Sipan, Director of the Kurdish Textile Museum at Erbil.