Özurfa

Matti Braun
April 18 – August 31, 2008
From left to right:
 
Untitled, 2008
11 antique (Roman) glass vases, vitrine (copper, glass, fabric)

The vases originate in the 1st to 4th century AD. For many centuries, the area of Urfa was a major crossroad for trade, culture and religion. Many archeologists regard this place as the "cradle of civilisation". The provenience of the vases is the Collection Peter C. Hammelsbeck in Cologne. 

 

Untitled, 2008
3 carp skeletons, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, fabric)
Three carp skeletons are arranged on the inside surface parallel to each other. The white bones exert an eerie presence, recalling the fishes they one were. The case's copper is also in reference to excavation sites near Urfa where very early use of tools, arms and jewelry made from the material was found.
 
Untitled, 2008
9 antique oil lamps, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, fabric)
 

Yol, 2008
7 film reels (complete copy of Yol in screening order), vitrine (copper, glass, fabric)

This is the film for which Yilmaz Güney won the 1982 Cannes Palme d'Or. Güney was a popular actor in action films before his directorial work which included sharp social commentary got him arrested several times and eventually imprisoned. The case's copper is also in reference to excavation sites near Urfa where very early use of tools, arms and jewelry made from the material was found.

 

Untitled, 2008
Four doves, argent headdress, 3 silver footrings, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, fabric)
At all times, the dove had a prominent role as message bearer. To this day particularly beautiful and successful doves, bred and tamed in the Orient since the 7th century, receive jewellery in the form of ornamental rings from their breeders, which pierces their wings. Thus decorated, the doves themselves came to adorn architectural facades. 
 
Untitled, 2008
25 firestones, arrowheads, hand-axes, graters, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, cloth)
 
Özurfa, 2008 
Offset prints
The series of 13 offset prints displays various themes that Matti Braun has featured in their cultural and geographic context in relation to his research on the city of Urfa in Southeastern Anatolia. Other prints refer to archaeologically important sites or technical achievements that are directly connected to Urfa’s geographical location. 
 

Untitled, 2008
Wood, plaster, rigid foam

This work is based on the architectural ground plan of the antique water installation in Urfa, which is connected with the carp pond of the city.

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Yol, 2008
7 film reels (complete copy of Yol in screening order), vitrine (copper, glass, fabric)

This is the film for which Yilmaz Güney won the 1982 Cannes Palme d'Or. Güney was a popular actor in action films before his directorial work which included sharp social commentary got him arrested several times and eventually imprisoned. The case's copper is also in reference to excavation sites near Urfa where very early use of tools, arms and jewelry made from the material was found.

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Untitled, 2008
Four doves, argent headdress, 3 silver footrings, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, cloth)
At all times, the dove had a prominent role as message bearer. To this day particularly beautiful and successful doves, bred and tamed in the Orient since the 7th century, receive jewellery in the form of ornamental rings from their breeders, which pierces their wings. Thus decorated, the doves themselves came to adorn architectural facades. 

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Untitled, 2008
25 firestones, arrowheads, hand-axes, graters, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, cloth)

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Untitled, 2008
3 carp skeletons, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, fabric)
Three carp skeletons are arranged on the inside surface parallel to each other. The white bones exert an eerie presence, recalling the fishes they one were. The case's copper is also in reference to excavation sites near Urfa where very early use of tools, arms and jewelry made from the material was found.

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

From front to back:
 
Untitled, 2008
11 antique (Roman) glass vases, vitrine (copper, glass, fabric)

The vases originate in the 1st to 4th century AD. For many centuries, the area of Urfa was a major crossroad for trade, culture and religion. Many archeologists regard this place as the "cradle of civilisation". The provenience of the vases is the Collection Peter C. Hammelsbeck in Cologne. 

 

Untitled, 2008
3 carp skeletons, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, fabric)
Three carp skeletons are arranged on the inside surface parallel to each other. The white bones exert an eerie presence, recalling the fishes they one were. The case's copper is also in reference to excavation sites near Urfa where very early use of tools, arms and jewelry made from the material was found.
 
Untitled, 2008
9 antique oil lamps, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, fabric)
 
Untitled, 2008
25 firestones, arrowheads, hand-axes, graters, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, cloth)
 

Yol, 2008
7 film reels (complete copy of Yol in screening order), vitrine (copper, glass, fabric)

This is the film for which Yilmaz Güney won the 1982 Cannes Palme d'Or. Güney was a popular actor in action films before his directorial work which included sharp social commentary got him arrested several times and eventually imprisoned. The case's copper is also in reference to excavation sites near Urfa where very early use of tools, arms and jewelry made from the material was found.

 
Untitled, 2008
Four doves, argent headdress, 3 silver footrings, vitrine (copper, glass, wood, fabric)
At all times, the dove had a prominent role as message bearer. To this day particularly beautiful and successful doves, bred and tamed in the Orient since the 7th century, receive jewellery in the form of ornamental rings from their breeders, which pierces their wings. Thus decorated, the doves themselves came to adorn architectural facades. 
 

Untitled, 2008 
Wood, plaster, rigid foam

This work is based on the architectural ground plan of the antique water installation in Urfa, which is connected with the carp pond of the city.

 
Özurfa, 2008 
Offset prints
The series of 13 offset prints displays various themes that Matti Braun has featured in their cultural and geographic context in relation to his research on the city of Urfa in Southeastern Anatolia. Other prints refer to archaeologically important sites or technical achievements that are directly connected to Urfa’s geographical location. 
 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Untitled, 2008 
Wood, plaster, rigid foam

This work is based on the architectural ground plan of the antique water installation in Urfa, which is connected with the carp pond of the city.

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Untitled, 2008
C-print, series of 3

The works show numerous carps in a pond. The carp pond Balikli Göl is one of the landmarks of the city Urfa. Urfa is a holy city for Muslims and Jews, because Abraham might have been born here and was also saved from being burnt at the stake. As the prophet was about to be hurled into the towering flames, he apparently transformed them into water and the flying embers into carps.

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Untitled, 2008
C-print, 2 parts
The two-part C-print with a copper frame is a reference to German artist Martin Kippenberger. Matti Braun studied in his class in Frankfurt. The work shows a 'found object', a street lamp in Urfa. For many centuries, the area of Urfa was a major crossroad for trade, culture and religion. The oldest findings of copper worked by humans go back to 9000 years B.C.

 

Photo © Lothar Schnepf

Özurfa

Matti Braun
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
April 18 – August 31, 2008
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Between the upper reaches of the Euphrates and the Tigris lies the southeast Anatolian city of Urfa, also known as Sanlıurfa, which for many centuries was a major crossroads for trade, culture and religion. In recent times the shorter version of the city’s name, Urfa, has been imported to Germany as a common name for Turkish bars.

 

Picking up on this development, Matti Braun has spun a narrative web in his exhibition Özurfa, which is dedicated to the cultural myths and convolutions that surround Urfa. The exhibition focuses on them without creating any causal relationships between all the people, places and stories involved, and without stopping to check their veracity. The title of the exhibition, which is taken from a bar in Cologne, translates as “real, authentic Urfa”.

 

Matti Braun is interested in the question of the authentic, of the cultural identity that is promised here. Urfa is known for its excellent cuisine, and many traditional dishes originally come from there. With its current population of almost one million and its location close to the Syrian border, this Turkish city stands for an alleged pre-modernism, for authentic, oriental culture in which traditional ways are still alive.

 

Archaeologists consider Urfa as perhaps the origin of the Neolithic revolution, the “cradle of civilization”. It was in this area that people first began to build settlements and till the soil. But even before that in the 10th/9th century B.C. a Palaeolithic temple complex was erected on a hill close to Urfa called Göbekli Tepe. The figures adorning the monolithic stones of the temple belong to the world of hunters and gatherers, and may have been part of a cult of the dead. Even today the spot is believed to have supernatural powers, which is why a wishing tree or dilek agaci can be found directly next to a small old cemetery. Visitors tie pieces of cloth to its branches and ask one of the nameless dead lying in their graves to grant them a wish.

 

Urfa is also an important place for Christianity, because it was the first city officially Christian. As a result of a purported correspondence between Jesus and the city’s rulers, the town became a destination for pilgrims and, in the 11th century, part of the first crusader state. Yet Urfa is a holy city for Muslims and Jews as well, because Abraham might well have been born here - and is said to have been saved from being burnt at the stake. As the prophet was about to be hurled into the towering flames, the story goes, he transformed them into water and the flying embers into carps. Since then, the carp pond Balikli Göl has become one of the city’s hallmarks.

 

Urfa continues to be a place in which ancient myths can be encountered on every corner, and new ones continue to be created. Thus a major legend of Turkish cinema comes from the region of Urfa: the actor and director Yilmaz Güney, who has been a great inspiration to director Fatih Akin. Güney was imprisoned for many years on charges of murder he presumably did not committ, and that were trumped up simply to curb his vocal political criticism. But he continued to work in captivity and his screenplays were realized by director friends. His success culminated in the film Yol (The Way), which won Güney the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1981, and was the first film in Turkish history in which Kurdish was spoken.

 

One of the more recent stories to come from the Urfa area, and one that may well be connected with the population’s largely Kurdish background, stars a number of Picassos. The police confiscated them a number of years ago from a private home, believing them to be stolen goods. The legend has been fanned by the fact that it is almost impossible to say today whether they were originals done by the Spanish artist, or fakes. If they were originals, the question arises as to where they came from. If they were fakes, who might have had them painted. One possibility is that they were stolen during the Gulf War from Kuwaiti collections, or alternatively that they were being sold to finance Kurdish organizations.

 

The exhibition Özurfa takes up this web of stories, connections and speculations, deliberately leaving its vagueness intact in order to invite new threads to be spun. Matti Braun will present five copper showcases containing various artifacts in the large project room in Museum Ludwig. They are all connected with the myths and stories of Urfa. They will be accompanied by large-scale photographic works framed in copper.

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