Skip to main content

Space Refugee - Halil Altindere

Galleries Galerie Fons Welters

Bloemstraat 140
1016 LJ Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 4233046

Open Tue - Sat / 13-18 hrs
+ by appointment

Screening 1 Nov — 4 Nov

Time 1 Nov, 13-18 hrs


Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. Courtesy: the artist and Pilot Gallery, Istanbul.

Galerie Fons Welters is proud to present Halil Altindere's Space Refugee (2016).

‘Muhammed Ahmed Faris is the only Syrian who has traveled to outer space. A colonel in the Syrian Air Force, Faris—the subject of Turkish artist Halil Altindere’s video Space Refugee (2016)—joined the Soviet cosmonaut program in 1985 and was part of a mission to the Mir Space Station in 1987. “Those seven days 23 hours and five minutes changed my life,” Faris told The Guardian.(1) He saw this experience as a privilege that he could share with other Syrians through education in science and astronomy, but that was not on the agenda of President Hafez al-Assad, who controlled Syria following a coup in 1970. When in 2000 al-Assad died and his son Bashar succeeded him, Faris was the head of the Syrian Air Force Academy and a military advisor. To The Guardian, Faris describes both father and son as enemies of the people, who ruled by maintaining their population as uneducated and divided as possible. In 2011, when the revolution in Syria broke out, he marched in Damascus, calling for reform; the next year he defected to Turkey, becoming one of the five million Syrian refugees to leave the country.’ – Orit Gat in Art Agenda1

Galerie Fons Welters is proud to present the work Space Refugee by Halil Altindere. First exhibited at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k) in 2016, the project takes an ironic distance from the current refugee crisis, positioning outer space as a haven for those displaced.  Portrayed in a social realist style, the film tracks Faris from USSR hero, to supporter of the democratic opposition to Assad, to his current life as a refugee in Turkey. The film combines factual interviews with NASA scientists, air and space law specialists, and architects about their fictional visions of life on Mars. The project quickly expands to a questioning of the plausibility of human life, and a proposal for a refugee colony, in space. Ending with the words “We will build space and I will go with them to Mars, where we will find safety and freedom. Where is freedom on earth? There is no dignity for humans on earth,” the work becomes simultaneously hyperbolic and realistic, critiquing xenophobic rhetoric, while remaining hopeful for the emancipation from oppression.

Since the 1990s, Halil Altindere has worked as an artist, curator, and publisher, leading a generation of practitioners working in opposition to repressive and nationalist developments in Turkey. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at n.b.k., Berlin, 2016, MoMA PS1, New York, 2015, and Kunstpalais Erlangen, Germany, 2015, among others.  In addition, Altindere has participated in the 9th Berlin Biennale, 2016, the 31st Bienal de Sao Paulo, 2014, the 13th Istanbul Biennial, 2013, Documenta 12, Kassel, 2012, as well as Manifesta 10, and the Gwangju, Sharjah, Kiev, and Cetinje Biennials. Since the mid-90s Altındere’s works have been exhibited in major museums, which include Maxxi, Rome, Centre Pompidou, Paris, ZKM, Karlsruhe, MAK, Vienna, The Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, MaMbo, Bologna, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, CCBB, Rio de Janeiro, Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Israel, and ACC, Gwangju, among others.




Other events

Museums/Institutes Foam

Mon - Wed / 10-18 hrs
Thu - Fri / 10-21 hrs
Sat - Sun / 10-18 hrs

Date 20 Apr

Time 18 - 19:30 hrs

Courtesy of Daniëlle van Ark

Museums/Institutes Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Daily 10-18 hrs
Fri 10-22 hrs

Date 9 May

Time 16 - 17 hrs

Galleries andriesse eyck galerie

Wed-Fri 11-18 hrs
Sat 13-18 hrs
+ by appointment

Date 2 May - 9 Jun

Museums/Institutes Foam

Mon - Wed / 10-18 hrs
Thu - Fri / 10-21 hrs
Sat - Sun / 10-18 hrs

Date 6 Apr - 24 Jun

Time 17:30 hrs

The Unseen, 2015 © Tereza Zelenkova