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If one asks people who speak Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Malay, or Indonesian what they understand by the word nafas, one receives almost identical answers: breath, breathing. A variation with the same origin is the Turkish nefes. The word appears in many combinations and nuances, usually apparently with positive connotations. Nafas can be used in the sense of "second wind", i.e., being able to endure difficulties, or in the sense of a refreshing breeze that soothes torments. When someone carries out specific activities especially well, for example cooking excellently, it is said that he or she has nafas – talent, a particular way, a personal style in this area. Sometimes nafas is associated with the meaning "freedom", for example in Sufism, a mystical current of Islam. The root of the word is nafs, which means "self" or "soul" in Arabic and which is regarded as the dynamic power breathed into a person’s body at the beginning of life.
We chose Nafas as the title and metaphor for the concept and framework of this project because of such connotations and the presence of the word in so many different cultures of the region in focus. Especially significant thereby was that the word is etymologically closely tied to the existence of the individual and that some of its derivations can be applied directly to creative activity."
The online magazine aims to contribute to a real dialog among cultures, understood as communication between individuals from different cultural realms who grant each other self-determined and also changing identities, and who do not deduce these, as rigid constructs, from the mere origin of the other. This presupposes fundamental willingness to engage in dialog and also a certain amount of knowledge.
We are especially interested in how artists critically reflect and respond with their specific means to societal relations and everyday living conditions, how aesthetic and socio-political dimensions interact, how they seek models of art and society that could do justice to their own demands, and what current experimental art practices they thereby use and develop.
This project is based in directly cooperating with the actors in the segment of the art world that the magazine is about, as well as with specialists around the world. We thereby see ourselves in a continuous learning process in which as many as possible should take part.
This online magazine is structurally and conceptually tied to the Internet project Universes in Universe – Worlds of Art. Pat Binder and Gerhard Haupt have published this web portal for the visual arts of Africa, the Americas, and Asia in the context of international art processes and cultural exchange since the beginning of 1997. The name refers, among other things, to the often-invoked danger of the continuous homogenization of a "global culture" and rejects claims made by representatives of individual cultures to be the solely valid, universal model of art or modernity. "Universe" means "totality of all parts". In this sense, Universes in Universe is a reminder that each of these parts (with the individual as the smallest part) is in turn a specific universe of its own, comprising diverse cultural and individual elements, and that its characteristics must be accepted and respected, in the face of all networking and mutual influence.
Dr. Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder
Binder & Haupt
Heilbronner Str. 3
D-10779 Berlin, Germany
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