Artifacts and Interaction: 200+ Years of German / Turkish Material Exchange
organized by Peter Christensen

Monday, January 16, 2012, 18:00

The German-built Haydarpasha railway station in Istanbul, completed 1908.

The connection between Turkey and Germany is well known. For many Turks and Germans alike the connection begins in earnest with the Gastarbeiter program of the 1960's and 70's, which brought, among other ethnic groups, thousands of Turkish migrants to German soil. The Turkish population was the most significant and has since become Germany's largest minority population, a fact further underscored by heated debates centered on the myriad issues of integration, language, religion and isolation.

But the special relationship between Turkey and Germany and its former imperial incarnations runs much further back in time when considered relatively to other bilateral connections. Furthermore, the history of the relationship is primarily considered in geopolitical and economic terms in both popular and academic literature. This roundtable discussion will bring together a collection of experts on the architectural, material and artistic culture of Germany and Turkey to explore ways in which the two empires and the two nations made direct and indirect impacts on the other. Each expert – including scholars, curators and artists – will present a slide show of 10-15 artifacts accompanied by a brief explanation of each. The presentations will be organized roughly chronologically.


5:45 Gathering at PROGRAM, 115 Invalidenstr. Berlin
6:00 Introductory remarks, Peter Christensen, PhD Candidate in Architecture, Harvard University and PROGRAM resident
6:15 Presentation 1, Peter Christensen
6:35 Presentation 2, Judith Raum, Artist and Independent Scholar
6:55 Presentation 3, Dr. Bernd Nicolai, Professor, Chair for Architectural History, Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Universität Bern
7:15 Break
7:30 Presentation 4, Dr. Esra Akcan, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
7:50 Presentation 5, Adnan Yıldız, Director, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart
8:10 Concluding remarks
8:20 Question and answer period
8:45 Reception

About the speakers

Esra Akcan received her architecture degree from Middle East Technical University, and her Ph.D. and postdoctoral degrees from Columbia University in New York, after which she joined the University of Illinois at Chicago as an Assistant Professor. One of her books Architecture in Translation explores a theory of translation in analyzing intertwined histories, and focuses on the early twentieth century German-Turkish exchanges in housing. She also guest edited a special issue for Centropa that brought together articles on German-Turkish relations after the 18th century.

Peter Christensen is a PhD Candidate in Architecture at Harvard University and current resident at PROGRAM. Formerly a Curatorial Assistant at The Museum of Modern Art, Christensen's doctoral research will address architecture in the construction of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. Peter's research in Germany is funded by a grant from the German Fulbright commission.

Bernd Nicolai is Professor and Chair for Architectural History, Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Universität Bern. His recent publications include Early Cultures, Reconsidering Non-Western References for Modern Architecture in a Cross-cultural Perspective (Peter Lang, 2011) with Anna Minta and Moderne und Exil. Deutschsprachige Architekten in der Türkei, 1925-1955, unveränderte Neuauflage, mit einem Forschungsüberblick 1998-2011 (Peter Lang, 2011).

Judith Raum is a Berlin-based artist and writer and currently a fellowat the Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences at the University of Fine Arts Berlin. In a recent artistic research project she has investigated the economic relations between the German and Ottoman Empires during the construction of the Baghdad Railway. The research material was turned into installations and lecture performances, documented in the publication  "Judith Raum: even running" (Verlag der Universität der Künste Berlin, November 2011).

Adnan Yıldız is Director, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart and formerly an Istanbul based curator. He is the co-editor of Muhtelif, Istanbul based contemporary art publication and co-curated "Nightcomers", the mobile video selection for the night program of 10th Istanbul Biennial.

Please register for the event no later than January 13 by contacting


Peter Christensen