Conversation series in collaboration with ART-O-RAMA and Contemporary Istanbul

Lydia Ourahmane, notes on the wait, 2018. 13 hand-printed photographs on Fuji Crystal Archive DP II in a bespoke archive box, 19.5 x 27.5. Photos from the artist’s personal archive.

Delfina Foundation in collaboration with ART-O-RAMA and Contemporary Istanbul is pleased to present a series of conversations exploring the Mediterranean, curated by our Deputy Director Salma Tuqan.

The Mediterranean, or ‘mare midi terra’ – the sea in the middle of the lands – conjures the idea of the sea as a meeting place. With Europe to the North, North Africa to the South, Southwest Asia to the East, and the narrow strait of Gibraltar to the West, the Mediterranean basin is widely understood as the cradle of Western civilisation. Historically, it was a crossroads of ancient cultures: Persian, Mesopotamian, Phoenician, Semitic, Egyptian, Carthaginian, Berber, Iberian, Roman, Greek and Anatolian. Today, the notion of a shared regional identity still perpetuates, albeit shifting, ambiguous and open to interpretation.

Being as much a construction of mythology, idealism and a shared – if simple – aspiration for interconnectedness; as it is of political agenda, the idea of a Mediterranean unity or the co-existence of Mediterranean identities still pervades today.

Taking this basin as a key site for the exchange of ideas, a series of four conversations will unfold across the two historic port cities of Marseille (31 August-1 September) and Istanbul (12 September). Bringing together writers, researchers, artists, curators, and architects The Mediterranean as a Mindset will explore some of the complexities affecting the Mediterranean today including; global mobility, a reconsideration of the landscape and the legacy of colonialism.


Towards a self-generating land
ART-O-RAMA, Marseille
Sat 31 August, 15:00-17:00

With Jan Boelen, in conversation with Fallen Fruit, New South and Pelin Tan

Blessed with ideal climatic conditions the Mediterranean basin is considered one of the world’s leading biodiverse hotspots. Its long-standing popularity and interference from man has left its mark across much of its landscape. In recent years there has been a re-evaluation of this rich terrain with artists, designers, scientists reimagining overlooked resources and agricultural waste in innovative ways, creating new economies and community led cultural projects. Jan Boelen, Director of Atelier Luma leads a conversation between artist collective Fallen Fruit, the New South and Pelin Tan.

The sea connects and disconnects
ART-O-RAMA, Marseille
Sun 1 September, 15:00-17:00

With Alya Sebti and Lydia Ourahmane

A shared connection amongst its neighbouring inhabitants is the familiar and fierce bond with the sea – Mare Nostrum, our sea. Historically, a channel for trade, this seemingly land locked body of water has been the site of idealised fiction, opportunity, life and despair. Art historian and curator Alya Sebti leads a conversation with artist Lydia Ourahmane, whose work weaves personal experience and embodied trauma in an intimate language of storytelling, to discuss the complexities of movement between borders and the state of in between-ness.

Agricultural entanglements
Contemporary Istanbul
Thurs 12 September, 12:00-12:45

With Sveva D’Antonio in conversation with Andrea Bagnato and Jumana Manna

Sveva D’Antonio, Co-director of Collezione Taurisano leads a conversation between architect and researcher Andrea Bagnato and artist Jumana Manna on the landscape transformation of the Mediterranean following technopolitical experiments, including policies of land draining, synthetic insecticides and engineered seed harvests. The discussion explores how, as a result, the Mediterranean can be an ideal site to understand modernity – from the US-funded DDT spraying in Egypt, to networks of seed archiving in the aftermath of the Syrian Revolution and yet, how the land can propose opportunities for the revival of dismissed forms of knowledge.

The ‘Black Mediterranean’
Contemporary Istanbul
Thurs 12 September, 13:00-13:45

With Ismail Einashe in conversation with Ivernomuto and Ayesha Hameed

Inspired by Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic (1993) the term ‘The Black Mediterranean’ was coined by academic Alessandra Di Maio. It describes the history of racial subordination in the Mediterranean region, placing the contemporary ‘migrant crisis’ as a continuation of European violent colonialism of the Global South and reaffirming its complicity. Writer and journalist Ismail Einashe leads a conversation between Milan based collective Invernomuto and artist and academic Ayesha Hameed.


Salma Tuqan
Salma Tuqan is a Contemporary art and design curator and Deputy Director of Delfina Foundation (London), a cross disciplinary non-profit foundation dedicated to facilitating artistic exchange and developing creative practice through residencies, exhibitions and public programming.
She graduated from Cambridge University with a BA, MA in History of Art and has an MA in Arts Policy and Cultural Management from Birkbeck University. Prior to Delfina Foundation she worked as the Contemporary Middle East Curator at the V&A for eight years, where she was responsible for Middle Eastern art and design programming at the museum, co-curated the biennial international Jameel Prize exhibition, and co founded the Culture in Crisis stream. She worked at Art Dubai from its inauguration in 2007 to 2011 as Head of Artists’ Projects, as well as Artistic Director of Contemparabia, a series of cultural itineraries for museum groups. 

She has contributed to other projects as an independent curator and facilitator, including Palestine c/o Venice at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009) and the Wind Tunnel Project in Farnborough (2014). She works closely with cultural organisations on strategy and is a committee member of the Arab Image Foundation (Beirut), The Palestinian Museum (Birzeit), The Khatt Foundation (Amsterdam), a Trustee of the Crossway Foundation (London) and Strategic Advisor to NuMu (Guatemala City).