Un•or•tho•dox – exhibition at Uqbar

with collective works by Group Bouillon (Tbilisi) and Jan Nikolai Nelles and Nora Al-Badri (Berlin)

Friday, April 15, 2016, 7 p.m.
with an introduction by Joanna Warsza

Sunday, May 1, 2016, 3 – 8 p.m.

April 16, – May 1, 2016

The exhibition Un•or•tho•dox recapitulates a collaboration between the two German artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles (Berlin) and the Georgian collective Group Bouillon (Tbilisi). End of 2015, the artists started to work on various ideas looking at parallels between televangelists, religious rituals and artists, which they researched and tested with performative formats. Collectively they realized interventions in public and semi-public space. Two of these interventions were directly related to the relationship between the church, collective religious experience, representation and contemporary art. The concept of a “post-secular society”, coined by Habermas, describes a condition that allows religious and secular values to exist together, as a result an ever-expanding “Ortho-paradox” was created, which seems to unite even the most controversial contradictions. This is clearly reflected by the function that is given to mediation and apparently makes art a perfect tool to reflect about religion. Nowadays, the Vatican shows contemporary art in its pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Is it maybe possible that the irrationality of the art market can be explained by means of transcendence? Among other works, the exhibition presents the videos documenting the above mentioned interventions, and the video Religious Aerobics by Group Bouillon, which was shown at the Georgian Pavillon at the Venice Biennale in 2013 .

The Actuality of the Ancient – Talk in Cairo on “The Other Nefertiti”

The panel discussion was a part of the exhibition „The Other Nefertiti“ and was initiated by the artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles and supported by the Goethe Institute Cairo.

– Dr. Monica Hanna, Archaeologist American University Cairo
– Alexander Koch, KOW Galerie Berlin and Noveaux Commanditaires e.V.
– Prof. Susanne Leeb, Leuphana University Lüneburg
– Simon Njami, art critic, curator, author

You can watch the full recorded discussion on youtube here.


Panel tackles contemporary art, icons and identity

CAIRO, Angela Boskovitch

A provocative panel discussion “The Actuality of the Ancient: Contemporary Art, Icons and Identity” was held November 20 at the Goethe-Institut Cairo in the context of Something Else, Off Biennale that brought together more than 110 artists from around the world in a month-long cultural event. German artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles initiated the panel as part of their Cairo exhibit, The Other Nefertiti, in which they presented an exact replica of the 3,300-year-old bust of Nefertiti.

“There’s almost a nonexistent discourse between the objects that were looted in the 19th century from Egypt and their representation in German museums,” explained panelist Monica Hanna, an archaeologist and co-founder of the Egypt’s Heritage Task Force Facebook site. “Without proper interpretation, people do not really identify with the object or look at ancient Egypt as if it were a living, breathing culture, but rather as a completely dead culture,” she said.

The case of the famous bust of Nefertiti served as a symbolic point for the panelists, representative of artifacts acquired under dubious circumstances. Nefertiti has been in Germany since 1913 and remains on exhibit at the Neues Museum in Berlin despite the Egyptian government’s repeated requests for her return.

But art critic, author and Something Else head curator Simon Njami, another of the four panelists, argued that the placement of an object transforms its very essence. “The head of Nefertiti that is in the German museum in Berlin is not the head of Nefertiti anymore,” he said. “It is just the appearance of the head of Nefertiti.” Njami further argued that museums serve an ideological role by separating artifacts from their origins and depriving people of their historical memory. “These museums are places where people are trying to address history of which they have no knowledge and where objects are frozen in time and space and torn from their very meaning,” he said.

Whether in so-called “world art” museums or exhibitions of ancient Egypt, a critical discourse around the usage of artifacts is urgently needed according to panelist Susanne Leeb, a contemporary art professor at the University of Lüneburg. “The discussion on contemporary art and archaeology just starts now,” she explained. “Many people are not aware of how far archaeology came out of imperial history, where European nations built up their own identity though looting the cultural heritage of other countries.” Ethnographic museums have their roots in 19th century European nationalism, a point Njami explained: “This notion of ‘world art’ is replacing more or less what was called ‘universal art’ when the Louvre and all those museums were constructed, which weren’t so much to give education to people, but to show the power of the country, whereby possessing things from all over the world, was like possessing the world.”

The panelists also discussed innovative artistic practices that could reverse the art world’s hegemonies and hierarchies. Working with museum collections in a critical way by giving objects an alternative biography, for example, was mentioned, as well as the possibility of museums touring their collections so that original countries could view their artifacts. Other ways of symbolically sharing cultural property were also suggested, like that of an artist who made posters of how objects were exhibited in a German museum that were then distributed throughout West Africa.

But is this focus on ancient artifacts relevant to contemporary socio-cultural needs? Alexander Koch, gallerist, author and chairman of the Germany branch of the New Patrons program for citizen-commissioned art projects, reflected on this question. “We need to ask what would people like as their story to be told and if they are actually even interested in creating a national narrative or if there are other societal self-descriptions they want to be told,” he said.

Antiquities looting and private possession of cultural heritage is a contemporary challenge. UNESCO estimates that the third largest illegal trade in the world is that of antiquities and culture. According to Hanna, winner of the 2014 SAFE Beacon Award for her efforts to preserve Egypt’s cultural heritage, some 200-250 objects leave Egypt every day to markets in Europe, North America and the Gulf where they reach private collectors and even museums secretly buying off the antiquities market. “People should see buying antiquities like buying blood diamonds,” she said, noting that twenty children die yearly digging for antiquities in just one small Egyptian village.

At its close the panel took a positive tone, discussing how bridges could be built between artists, archaeologists, cultural activists and the public. “We need to rethink how we exhibit ancient Egypt as well as how ancient Egypt is exhibited within Egypt, in Egyptian museums, and in the way we deal with archaeological sites,” Hanna said. Support for the production of contemporary culture is often missing, however, Koch concluded at the panel’s end. “Many Western countries spend something like 95 percent of their budgets on the preservation of their heritage and less and less money into the production of our culture today and tomorrow. We also have to have a conversation if this is the right balance about how we collectively invest in our artifacts.”

Text by Angela Boskovitch, a Cairo-based writer, researcher and cultural producer and was the panel’s moderator.

Group Show at Kreuzberg Pavillon 6 June, 8pm


The bronze sculpture Dattel Denkmal will be shown at the group show at Kreuzberg Pavillon.

Opening: 6 June, 8pm

The Heavy Petting Gallery creates an exhibition design  close to the audience enabling direct contact with the  artwork without the responsability of possessing and caring for it.

You can find more information here.



We Refugees: Exhibition and Community Project Berlin-Mitte

WeRefugees Text

Nora Al-Badri und Jan Nikolai Nelles mit Ajmal, Ali, Amer, Aref, Daniel, Hassan, Husam, Mohamed, Noor, Omar, Rami und Rawia.

Eröffnung am Freitag, den 24. April um 18 Uhr mit einer Einführung von Dr. Elisabeth Klotz, Dozentin und freie Kuratorin, mit Musik von dem Ensemble ECATUOR und syrischen Traditionals.

Die Ausstellung versammelt fotografische Fragmente individueller Fluchtgeschichten, deren Wege sich in Berlin-Mitte kreuzen. Der Titel der Ausstellung ist an den gleichnamigen Essay von Hannah Arendt aus dem Jahr 1943 angelehnt. Flüchtlinge werden darin als die „Avantgarde ihrer Völker” bezeichnet. Fotografien, die von Flüchtlingen mitgebracht oder auf ihrer Flucht aufgenommen wurden, sind von den Künstlern Nora Al-Badri und Jan Nikolai Nelles zu einem Narrativ arrangiert worden und zeugen von Verlust und Tod, ebenso wie von Glück und Hoffnung. Die konkrete Bedrohung der sog. erweiterte Kampfzone, die für einige Flüchtlinge auch in der Mitte Berlins besteht, schlägt sich visuell in der Ausstellung nieder. Um die Flüchtlinge und deren Familien vor weiterer Verfolgung zu schützen, wurden die noch lebenden abgebildeten Personen auf den Fotografien anonymisiert und visuelle Überlagerungen geschaffen. Die Ausstellung erzählt von Unaussprechlichkeiten des Erlebten. Ebenso verweisen die Familienbilder und Fluchttagebuch-Handybilder auf eine konkrete Bedrohung die sog. erweiterte Kampfzone, die für einige Flüchtlinge auch in der Mitte Berlins besteht. Es ist eine Annäherung an die Brechtschen Flüchtlingsgespräche und seinen Begriff der ‘Inzwischenzeit’, übertragen handelt es sich um ‘Inzwischenfotografie’. Durch Fragmentarismus, Brüchigkeit, ironische Kommentierung werden Impulse zum widerständigen Denken gegeben.


Petra Rietz Salon Galerie
Koppenplatz 11a
10115 Berlin
Samstag, 25. April, 13-18 Uhr
Dienstag, 28. April bis Donnerstag, 30. April, 15-18 Uhr
Und nach Vereinbarung.
Gallery Weekend:
Freitag, 1. Mai 18-21 Uhr
Samstag, 2. Mai und Sonntag, 3. Mai, 11-19 Uhr
Mit freundlicher Unterstützung des Elisabeth-Hauses (Caritas), Petra Rietz Salon Galerie, Freedomus e.V. und d’mage.

Warscapes Magazine: Article on Why I Prefer Stealing from the Military

“Nora Al-Badri has never been to Iraq. But she has connected with her father’s home country via the Internet—not over Skype or email, but through the personal blogs of members of the United States’ occupying forces. Greetings from Iraq consists of ten postcards Al-Badri created from “random snapshots from random soldiers at very significant sights.” Seeking out iconic images from Iraq’s most treasured monuments, she approached this process of personal visual exploration with the simple question, “how is it actually looking over there?”

What she found was at once banal and shocking. She spent her evenings sifting through what she describes as exclusive material: occupying soldiers posing in their leisure time, exuding self-confidence and naïveté, their image-making as uninformed as their mission. The pictures make their way home in earnest, longing for ontological affirmation—Hi Mom, Hi Sweetheart, this is me, standing here. This is the authenticity of the amateur, the gold of the poor image…”

Find the full article here:




REVOLUTION – Exhibition in Berlin

Vom 23.-14. Juni 2014 in der Galerie Nord.

Die Ausstellung präsentiert Arbeiten von 22 Moabiter Künstlerinnen und Künstlern, die das Thema Revolution aus unterschiedlichsten Perspektiven aufgreifen. Im Mittelpunkt steht stets die Frage nach der heutigen Bedeutung von Umwälzungen, aktuellen Veränderungen, einschneidenden historischen Ereignissen und dem Widerstand gegenüber verfestigten Machtstrukturen. Ungeahnt weit sind dabei die thematischen Ausgangspunkte: Ikonen der Französischen Revolution, Arbeiteraufstände im frühen 20. Jahrhundert, ästhetische Doktrinen, die Ägyptische Revolution, die Friedliche Revolution in Deutschland vor 25 Jahren und vieles mehr. Strategien des Erinnerns sind in der Ausstellung ebenso vertreten wie der subversive oder ironische Blick. Die künstlerischen Statements sind einmal laut vernehmbar, bei anderen Arbeiten eher verhalten und reflexiv. „Revolution“ ist eine Ausstellung, die Fragen nach Widerstand und künstlerischem Aufbegehren auf neue und unerwartete Weise stellt, ohne vorgefertigte Antworten bereit zu halten. Sie ist zugleich eine Ausstellung, die einen Einblick in das künstlerische Potential des Stadtteils ermöglicht. Vor allem aber ist „Revolution“ eine ästhetisch spannende Ausstellung, die Lust macht, das Wahrnehmen und Denken nach allen Seiten hin zu öffnen.

Mehr Informationen hier: http://www.kunstverein-tiergarten.de/?cat=ausstellung&id=120

Exhibition at team titanic Berlin

25.01.14 // 19 h // Flughafenstraße 50 | Berlin

*The Rule is not Present*

The Berlin based artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles brought many works back from Egypt in 2013. Their collective conceptual photography asks questions about power, the global disorder and the poetry of propaganda imagery. Iconic ‘Living Equestrian Statues‘ after Da Vinci’s drawings or the earliest bronze statues from Marc Aurel shimmer at tt – where the artists replace the rulers. Equestrian and horse are posing at the split of a second the exact pose of the original model. And works such as ‘World Wide Wheat’ and ‘Nuda Veritas‘, site-specific presented near Tahrir Square in Cairo, examine the absurdity of the global food speculations and the ongoing uprisings.