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KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art: Etel Adnan & Simone Fattal – Voices without borders | 27.08.2023-01.01.2024

Editors’ Choice

Voices without borders is an intimate dialogue between the artists Etel Adnan and Simone Fattal, two important voices of the Arab world. The exhibition at KINDL reflects the multidisciplinarity in the individual and joint oeuvre of the two artists and provides insights into the artistic and literary work of their life partners. The title of the exhibition, Voices without borders, reflects their shared, deep relationship with literature. With Adnan and Fattal, the KINDL presents accomplices in feminist, political and artistic commitment who worked with a sense of radicalism and a belief in the power of words. For the first time, the exhibition comprehensively presents paintings, leporellos, tapestries, graphics and sculptures by the two artists. The lives and works of the two “polymaths” are also highlighted in a showcase on Fattal’s publishing house, The Post-Apollo Press, and in two documentary films by Marie Regan and Deena Charara, with the collaboration of Etel Adnan, in the M1 VideoSpace.

Fig. above: Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2016, Öl auf Leinwand, Courtesy der Nachlass der Künstlerin und Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut / Hamburg, © Etel Adnan / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2023

Etel Adnan (1925 in Beirut – 2021 in Paris) was a poet, painter and philosopher and is an important figure of Arab modernism. Her life was marked by childhood in a multicultural family and later, as a philosophy student in Lebanon, Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area, also by travel, especially to Mexico and North Africa. Since childhood, she was fascinated by writing and poetry. From 1952, she taught philosophy for twenty years at Dominican College in San Rafael, California, where she discovered the medium of painting for herself. Mount Tamalpais, which she could see from her flat there, quickly became her main motif. Throughout her life, she tried to capture its essence in her painting and circled this theme in her literature and painting in endless variations. The boundaries between language and painting became increasingly permeable for her, and in reaction to the Algerian war she broke away from the language of the colonial power France: “I no longer had to write in French, I simply painted in Arabic.” In the medium of the leporello, Adnan brings painting, calligraphy and poetry directly together, and in the book Arab Apocalypse she allows graphic signs to flow directly into the literary text. Another theme dealt with in the exhibition is the significance of space and space travel in Etel Adnan’s thinking and work.

In 1972, Etel Adnan and Simone Fattal met in Beirut and entered into a lifelong partnership. In 1980, the two left the country due to the Lebanese Civil War and moved to California.

DEEDS NEWS - Simone Fattal - Palmier - Voices without borders (c) Simone Fattal - VG Bild-Kunst
Simone Fattal, Palmier, 2022, Radierung, Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co., © Simone Fattal / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2023

Simone Fattal (* 1942 in Damascus, lives in Paris) is an artist, translator and publisher who has moved between painting, sculpture and poetry throughout her life. Raised in Beirut, she studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before returning to Lebanon, where her paintings have been shown in numerous exhibitions. In 1982, Fattal founded The Post-Apollo Press to publish Etel Adnan’s novel Sitt Marie Rose, which she wrote in 1978 in response to the horrors of the civil war – now a classic of anti-war literature. With The Post-Apollo Press, she became one of the most important promoters of contemporary poetry. Between 1982 and 2018, it published over 60 works by writers and poets from the Arab world, the USA and Europe. Originally at home in the medium of painting, Fattal approached sculpture in California and developed a rich body of ceramic sculptures, prints and collages with references to Sumerian mythology, ancient Egyptian formal language and philosophy, among others.

In the context of the first comprehensive monographic exhibitions on the work of Etel Adnan in Germany, the Lenbachhaus in Munich and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, in cooperation with KINDL, produced a comprehensive publication on the work of Etel Adnan, with contributions by Sébastien Delot and Simone Fattal, among others, edited by Sébastien Delot, Susanne Gaensheimer and Matthias Mühling, published by Hirmer Verlag, Munich.


KINDL – Zentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst
Am Sudhaus 3
12053 Berlin


Opening: Sat, 26 August 2023, 6 – 9 pm

Exhibition dates: Sun, 27.08.2023- Mon, 01.01.2024

Opening Hours: Wed, 12:00 – 20:00, Thu – Sun, 12:00 – 18:00.

Open: 26.12.23, 31.12.23, 1.1.24

Closed: 24.12.23 and 25.12.23

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