Wolfgang Tillmans Dedicates His Berlin Project Space to Refugee Crisis

From today, ‘Between Bridges’ is a forum for discussion.

Wolfgang Tillmans Photo: Hpschaefer via Wikimedia Commons
Wolfgang Tillmans Photo: Hpschaefer via Wikimedia Commons

The German photographer and artist Wolfgang Tillmans has declared that until further notice, his Berlin-based project space Between Bridges will be used to address the ongoing European migrant crisis.

“From this month Between Bridges wants to be a forum, however small; a platform, however powerless, to discuss and organize activity from within the art community,” Tillmans wrote in an email.

Identifying three issues, Tillmans writes that he wants to explore the lack of empathy caused by the differentiation between “real refugees” and economic migrants, the rise of right-wing political parties taking advantage of animosity towards the European Union, which he calls “the most successful peace project in the history of mankind.”

According to the artist, the aim of the dialogue is to understand how the arrival of 1.5 million refugees in a continent of 508 million has provoked such polarization among the European population.

Tillmans operates a project space at Keithstrasse 15 in Berlin. Photo: Between Bridges, Berlin

Tillmans operates a project space at Keithstrasse 15 in Berlin.
Photo: Between Bridges, Berlin

Tillmans added that the initiative is an attempt to encourage people to get to know each other in order to work out their differences.

“The open-ended project entitled Meeting Place does not offer easy or simple answers to the complex array of questions we’re faced with,” Tillmans wrote. “Hesitation however is no answer either […] The only uncompromising way to start addressing the state we’re in, seems to be to get to know each other. Social science has demonstrated again and again that xenophobia increases with the distance of the ‘stranger’ in question.”

During opening times Meeting Place will serve as a visual showcase of information and exhibits. Every Thursday evening the space will host social get-togethers where the three key issues identified by Tillmans can be discussed.

The first weekly meeting, which takes place on Thursday April 14 and will feature an exhibition of photographs by Bachar Al Mohamad Al Chanin, a Syrian archaeologist and official from Syria’s Directorate General for Antiquities and Museums. He has lived in Berlin since September 2015 and he works as a volunteer in the Refugees as Guides program in Berlin’s museums.

Millions of refugees have fled the Middle East and North Africa to escape conflict and poverty. Photo: Hendrik Schmidt via Getty Images/AFP/

Millions of refugees have fled the Middle East and North Africa to escape conflict and poverty.
Photo: Hendrik Schmidt via Getty Images/AFP

On April 21 the project space presents a conversation between Tillmans and the art therapist and author Gülây Akin. The focus will lie on Akin’s activism and work with unaccompanied underage refugees.

Tillmans is the latest art world figure to speak up about the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the displacement of millions who are fleeing war and poverty, after fellow artists Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor voiced their concerns over the consequences of the mass displacement of people in the Middle East and north Africa.

Between Bridges is open Wednesday to Saturday 12pm – 6pm 


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