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Bitter Things – Narratives and Memories of Transnational Families

18/05/2018 @ 18:30 - 01/07/2018 @ 19:00

18 May – 1 July 2018

bi’bak’s second exhibition at Depo, Bitter Things – Narratives and Memories of Transnational Families presents the Berlin-based collective’s most recent work investigating stories of

transnational families, who are separated through labor-migration. Within their installation, the artists Malve Lippmann and Can Sungu gather positions on the subject from the 1960s until today. Interviews with parents and children who had to live separately from each other are brought together with objects that play an ambivalent role within the separated families.

Narrative inquiry on labor migration is central to the works of Sungu and Lippmann, founders of bi’bak. They discovered that a great number of people in their immediate circle had been separated from their parents during childhood. Initially, many of their parents had to move abroad without them during the recruitment agreements of the 1960s as so called guest workers. For many years these accounts of separated families in the context of labor migration were not spoken about, the matter never formed a part of general discourse.

The more Lippmann and Sungu delved into artistic inquiry, the clearer it became: Objects play a critical role in the relationships between transnational parents and their children. Despite
geographical distance, parents strive to fulfil their parental role by supporting their children’s material needs and education. For the children, however, these objects or gifts are stuck in an ambivalent, tension-laden zone, hovering between memory, pain, hope, disappointment, and joy.

How is the relationship between parents and children to be redefined whenever gifts and material support take the place of shared experience? What happens when physical closeness has to take second place to communication programs like Skype and WhatsApp? How does this changing family landscape impact children and their parents? Working on narratives and memories of people with transnational family backgrounds, but also with current cases, Bitter Things retraces positions on this topic from the 1960s right up to present day perspectives.

Bitter Things is accompanied by a publication with the same title published by Archive Books, which includes academic and literary contributions, interviews, song texts and images examining
the topic from interdisciplinary perspectives. Book launch will be held on Saturday, 30 June, at 4pm with a reading and panel discussion.

The short film Hastabakıcı / Abigail by Soner Sert (Turkey, 2017), and the documentary Waiting for August by Teodora Ana Mihai (Romania/Belgium 2014) will be screened as part of a closing event followed by a Q&A session with the directors on Sunday 1st July at 4pm.

bi’bak is a non-profit organization and project space based in Berlin, with a focus on transnational narratives, migration, global mobility and their aesthetic dimensions. bi’bak’s program examines diverse disciplines in art, science, and community development, including film screenings, exhibitions, workshops as well as music events and culinary excursions. The project Sıla yolu – The Holiday Transit to Turkey and the Tales of the Highway was presented in Depo in 2017.

For more information please visit:

In Cooperation with Archive Berlin and DOMiD – Documentation Center and Museum of Migration in Germany, Cologne.
Funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Kindly supported by Goethe Institut Istanbul.



18/05/2018 @ 18:30
01/07/2018 @ 19:00
Event Category:


Depo İstanbul
DEPO / Tütün Deposu Lüleci Hendek Caddesi No.12 Tophane
İstanbul, 34425 Turkey
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+90 (212) 292 39 56 - 57