press release

Fragments of Empires is an exhibition of contemporary art that addresses issues of memory, identity and the impact of migration through three different time-based media: sound, film and photography. Throughout the exhibition ‘fragments of empires’ are revealed through the notion of ‘object memories’ as artists examine how objects, and associations related to them, have been transferred and re-imprinted through historical processes of colonisation and migration, moving in this way from one culture to another. Although originally circumscribed by imperial ambition, the work made by the artists in the exhibition shows different ways in which these fragments have been woven into new lives or realities to establish other meanings and identities in the present.

Berlin in the 21st Century sits on the intersection of many immigrant cultures and nations, as people from all over the world flock to the city. In recent years, Berlin has come to be especially known for attracting the world’s leading artists. Equally, Berlin is famous for the wealth of cultural artifacts housed in its museums. This convergence, in this capital city, of creative and historical culture with the world’s migrant cultures is often remarked upon, but it has not yet been closely considered in terms of the convergence of the different colonial legacies of the many populations that inhabit Berlin. Fragments of Empires is thus a timely reflection on the hybridization of cultural practices, and the fact that not only in Berlin, but everywhere in the world, we can all find roots somewhere else.

Reflecting upon the lasting legacies as diverse as the British, Byzantine, French, Ottoman, Roman Empires within the context of Berlin’s particular struggle with the painful histories of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, this exhibition extends the remits of history through artistic innovation. Fragments of Empires brings together artists who have dissected the historical legacies of their particular cultures to rebuild them into contemporary statements about how cultures, by absorbing one another, defy established borders and concepts of nationhood that have been drawn and re-drawn by political force. The opening of the exhibition in Berlin in early November will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The work by the artists in the exhibition – Kader Attia, Lutz Becker, Theo Eshetu, Amir Fattal, Gülsün Karamustafa, Fiona Pardington, and Sophia Pompéry – encapsulates a wide range of different approaches to experiences of empire, migration, cultural transformation and appropriation. All strongly reflect the viral, diasporic symbolisms of contemporary culture across the world and the different contexts within which they are perceived. In Fragments of Empires, MOMENTUM is bringing these seven artists together for the first time.

This exhibition accordingly invokes time-based art practices to explore the legacies of cultural histories that have constantly changed through the passing of time. As Berlin’s only platform focusing exclusively on time-based art, MOMENTUM focuses on historical time through the lens of technologies that break down moments into images, as well as through the personal experiences of artists whose varied cultural backgrounds also re-frame different historical moments.