press release

Extra Citizen
Group exhibition and public program
September 9–December 10, 2017 Opening weekend: September 8–11, with performances, lectures, talks, music, guided tours and a Young Citizens Program

Group exhibition with works by Meriç Algün, Younes Baba-Ali, Zbyněk Baladrán, James Bridle, Bram Demunter, Iman Issa, Cao Fei, Ahmet Ögüt, Dan Perjovschi, Antonis Pittas, Martha Rosler, Marinella Senatore, Philippe Van Snick and Grant Watson

Curated by Antonia Alampi and iLiana Fokianaki

How does one become a citizen? How can we describe what a citizen means today? How much have the informal meaning and legal definition of the notion of citizenship transformed over the last decades?

These questions form the foundation of the exhibition, which serves as an introduction to Kunsthal Extra City’s programme for the next three years, focusing into the present and future condition of citizens and denizens, from a social, political and civil perspective, vis-à-vis the texture of the city. The "extra" in the title invites us to think beyond the conventional meaning of citizenship: what can be added to the normative definition of a citizen and what aspects of citizenship lie outside the confines of its strictly legal definition?

The notions of citizenship and the questions of what being a citizen can entail, have been evolving and reformulating since the beginning of organised societies. Within an accelerated present, with its renewed path towards far-right nationalisms, and a growing frustration for political systems and representative democracy in general, we aim to contribute from a cultural perspective to discussions on what can citizenship mean, what rights and responsibilities come along with this, but also what parameters are still used to define who is entitled to be and become a citizen.

In the last two centuries the composition of people that inhabit the old continent, has rapidly changed. Global migration and the world wide web, new and complex forms of mass interaction and knowledge exchange, along with the relatively free movement of goods, capital and services, and new forms of capital accumulation, all now define the world in which we live in. Nationality, birth-place, language, or religion, are not the sole definitions of our sense of belonging to a place or to a community. Nevertheless we are witnessing, once again, a re-emergence of “us” and “them," one that denies the complex diversity and hybridity of cultures and world-views that define contemporary metropolises. The shortcomings of limited integration policies that failed to engage in structural change, and the increased fortification of European borders, are signs of a shift in positionings towards the right to citizenship. On the other hand, against this hostile backdrop, grassroots movements have increasingly emerged, intervening in municipal procedures and political agendas, finding new ways and means to organize (socially and politically), offering support, shelter and hospitality to newcomers, and presenting alternative solutions of para-citizenry. Something that correlates to the reality of the current composition of our cities, made up by citizens and denizens that are more culturally, socially and economically diverse, multi-lingual and multi-national.

The intention behind this exhibition and its narrative path but also of our longer-term program is to inspire a reflection on what we might inscribe in a much-needed new polyphonic definition of citizenship. We aim to question, together with our audience and contributors, the contemporary interpretations of a concept in transition.