The aim of ZMO public relations is to deconstruct the image of "the other". The Centre rejects the academic and journalistic culturalization of global conflicts, and makes a point of contributing to a more discerning view of the "Islamic world" by offering advice to the media, for example, or providing expert interview partners. The results of basic research on non-Western history and culture provide the necessary depth to understand current affairs, and it is our aim to present them for discussion to a wider public. Our virtual press folder, which we are happy to extend to you for your own work, contains texts and photographs reflecting this intention.
Since 2004 ZMO’s outreach programme, directed by Dr. Sonja Hegasy, increasingly used art as well as cultural events to disseminate research results. See for example the photo exhibition “What Do You Think about the West? Interviews with Young People from the Arab World” (2005) and “Made in Teheran – Six Women’s Views” (2007, in collaboration with the Cicero Gallery und Artefakt). In 2008, ZMO took part in the exhibition “Cairoscape”, which was shown in the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien. In 2010, the organizers of the conference “Under Construction – The Material and Symbolic Meaning of Architecture and Infrastructure in the Gulf Region” and Regina Sarreiter organized an accompanying exhibition at ZMO. In addition, Regina Sarreiter supervised the 2011 exhibition “What We See. Images, Voices, Representation” in the Museum für Völkerkunde in Vienna. Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V. and ZMO in September 2011 jointly organized the Moroccan Film Days “Change and Diversity”, which opened up perspectives on filmmaking in Morocco over the last ten years. In September 2013 Arsenal and ZMO showed a series of Lebanese films called "Sights of Memory".
From November 2013 to January 2014 the exhibition "In Search of Europe? Equals in an Unequal World" showed the results of the cooperation of six researchers from ZMO and six international artists, curated by Daniela Swarowsky at Kunsthaus Kreuzberg/Bethanien. From a wide range of perspectives, the artworks approached the question to what degree Europe still is a standard against which people in other parts of the world measure themselves. The exchange between the researchers and the artists, mostly coming from the countries of the researchers' focus, was part of the BMBF sponsored interdisciplinary research project "In Search of Europe: Considering the Possible in Africa and the Middle East".
2014/2015 ZMO hosted the exhibition "The Spiritual Highway: Religious World Making in Megacity Lagos". Former ZMO fellow and anthropologist Marloes Janson (SOAS) recorded and explored, together with photographer Akintunde Akinleye, centres of religion along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that have become known as "prayer cities". Akinleye and Janson concentrated on two organisations: The Christian "Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries" (MFM Prayer City) and the Muslim "Nasrul-Lahi-Fatih Society" (NASFAT). The result of their work were stunning photographs of the religious life of these places of prayer, which challenge the conventional assumption of Christianity and Islam as bounded and opposing traditions and which show the globalised form of religiosity.
The exhibition “Lives from a Global Conflict”, with the ZMO’s crucial participation, shows a different view of World War I and portrays people from Europe, Asia, and Africa who were lastingly shaped by their encounter with people from other cultures during the war. The presentation concludes the three-year international research project “Cultural Exchange in a Time of Global Conflict: Colonials, Neutrals and Belligerents during the First World War”.
Taking the special camps for non-European prisoners of war in Zossen-Wünsdorf as the starting point, the global dimension of World War I also became the sounding board for current artistic positions in the exhibition “digging deep, crossing far” in the art space Kreuzberg/Bethanien. Heike Liebau from the ZMO and the artist Sonya Schönberger (Berlin) collaborated here on a video installation that traces a man from India’s experiences and encounters in World War I. Anandita Bajpai worked with artists from “The Tentative Collective“ (Karachi) and the sound artist Gilles Aubry (Berlin) to sound recordings of prisoners of war from India.
The Berlin band The Disorientalists is fascinated by the biography of successful writer Lev Nussbaum who converted to Islam in Berlin in the 1920s. Nussbaum is "the orientalist" from Tom Reiss' biography 'The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life' (New York 2005) which could not have been written without the preliminary scientific studies of Gerhard Höpp. The songs of the band were release on the 2016 Album Who was Essad Bey?. Sonja Hegasy contributed to the extensive booklet of the CD.
On the occasion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2017 in Bonn Ali Nobil Ahmad curated the filmfestival anthropoSCENE: Film and climate Justice in Asia and Africa with Non-European perspectives on climate catastrophes. Finally in 2018 Kino Arsenal presented new movies from Algeria dealing with experiences of violence during the 1990s in a filmfestival titled The Past in the Present.
Invitation to a change of perspective
A conversation with Sonja Hegasy on media and knowledge transfer at ZMO
Published in: GWZ, Das Forschungsjahr 2012. Berlin 2013.