Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

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Naz Cuguoğlu and Mine Kaplangı (Collective Çukurcuma) developed this proposal during the 2017 Curatorial Intensive in New Orleans. The proposal later became the exhibition House of Wisdom, on view at DZIALDOV, Berlin from April 29 – June 4, 2017

Artists: Mohamed Abdelkarim, Burak Arıkan, Mahmood Bakhshi, Yael Bartana, Mehtap Baydu, Kürşat Bayhan, Ekin Bernay, Burçak Bingöl, Nicky Broekhuysen, Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Cansu Çakar, Ramesch Daha, Didem Erk, Viron Erol Vert, Işıl Eğrikavuk, Deniz Gül, Beril Gür, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Ali Kazma, Yazan Khalili, Göksu Kunak, Fehras Publishing Practises, İstanbul Queer Art Collective, Mona Kriegler, Elham Rokni, Natascha Sadr Haghighian & Ashkan Sepahvand, Sümer Sayın, Erinç Seymen, Bahia Shehab, Walid Siti, Ali Taptık, Erdem Taşdelen, Özge Topçu, Ali Yass, Ala Younis, Eşref Yıldırım

“To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions-there we have none.”
Virginia Woolf, How Should One Read a Book, 1925

Throughout centuries, libraries have been perceived as places where information on life and space are organized, read, and interpreted, but at certain times whose political significance are underestimated. As in the example of House of Wisdom*, libraries are also known as centers of research, learning, and sharing. Thus, public libraries have been important symbols of political power and formation of cultural identity.

They play a significant role in the political struggle for independence, as centers of democratic ideals, such as free access to cultural heritage and information. As public spaces, they are essential for bringing people together to share information. Touching upon the subjects of freedom of speech and thought, and as the examples of the library formed during Gezi Park protests in Istanbul and the “Secret Library” founded last year in Syria’s Darayya indicate, libraries become even more important during times of collective resistance and protests for freedom.

Based on the power of the libraries, and Foucault’s notion of the archive as “the general system of the formation and transformation of statements,” we follow our archival urge and build our own archive-library in Berlin. To shed light on the increasing levels of censorship on information and the current sociopolitical situation in and around Turkey, we invite artists and researchers to take part in the project. “House of Wisdom” exhibition, aiming to rethink the political nature of books, whose mere existence is under threat, asks: What could be the consequences of collectively rethinking the archive?

With the exhibition’s second location, Stadt-Bibliothek Else-Ury—a library founded in the 1900s, partially destroyed during the Second World War, and named after a woman whose books were censored—these relationships suggest new possibilities on understanding history that seems like repeating itself.

*House of Wisdom was a library founded in the beginning of the 8th century in Baghdad, where thousands of books in various languages from different regions, on philosophy, art, science, and history were housed. Researchers from different regions came together to make research, and work on techniques of translation, writing, and discussion.

The public program of the exhibition consisting of performances, conversations, and screenings is to be announced. House of Wisdom is supported by The Art Department, IFA (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and STEP Travel Grants of European Cultural Foundation.

Learn More

To learn more about this proposal please email Naz Cuguoğlu at To learn more about the Curatorial Intensive email