Sevgi's hands. Photo by Misal
4 Dec 2017 – 2 Jun 2018

Project “Mutterzunge”, conceived by Adnan Misal, is an independent program of research visits, studio residencies, invited table conversations, and mapping of installations and events, taking place in Berlin from December 2017 to June 2018.

Connecting filmic, performative, and curatorial discussions with contemporary literature and critical writing, “Mutterzunge” is an inquiry into unorthodox forms of exhibition-making.
Revisiting Berlin-based author Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s book of the same name in her city, the project investigates the notions of autonomy, anonymity and authenticity.

For each story in Özdamar’s work of fiction, in four chapters, the project generates a staged act in a specific location. Each act will include attempts, concerns, and questions about translation, moderation, and editing between diverse languages, communities, and cultures. It aims to reconnect readers with users, to increase listening skills with reading interest, and to introduce individual writings in co-editing practices. It sometimes takes shape at a long table for shared conversations, or at a brainstorming session in a studio for new ideas, or at a bar, language class, or cinema—wherever we can hear foreign languages. Circulating conversations, research, field surveys, and methodic thinking, ”Mutterzunge” intends to rewrite those stories with an understanding of current questions on autonomy, anonymity and authenticity.

“Mutterzunge” is a term which does not literally exist in standard German. Özdamar’s Mutterzunge (1990: I. Bachmann Prize) proposes not only a literal translation of “mother tongue,” but also an artistic gesture in German, since “mother tongue” exists in other languages such as English, French, and Turkish, but not in German, which only uses the expression Muttersprache (“mother language.”) She departs from the deep connection with her own mother, and questions Arabic, German, and Turkish, the languages she deals with, as spaces of abstraction, conceptual thinking, composition, intimacy, and articulation. The book investigates the politics of migration through minor gestures of everyday life, from the narrative perspective of a young Turkish migrant woman living in Germany. Creating an open space for our imagination, it develops critical questions on language, national identity, public, memory, and sense of belonging, among others. The narrator begins by explaining that in her language, Turkish, “tongue” also means “language”: “The tongue has no bones; wherever you turn it, it turns”.

”Mutterzunge” issues printed in Karaman’in Sesi editions are available at Neue Nachbarschaft & nbk.

For further information on the project, please check the website:

“Mutterzunge” by Adnan Misal is of the three ex-aequo winning projects (along with those conceived by Michael Wang and Evelyn Simons) of Curate Award, an international competition promoted by Fondazione Prada and Qatar Museums. Launched in May 2013, Curate Award aims to find new curating talent and to bring about original perspectives in exhibition making. The international jury selected the three winning projects in August 2014 among a large number of submitted proposals from 63 different countries.


1. Act Launching: “A Story About a Statue Lost in Karaman”
Workshop, exhibition, and performance
4 December 2017, 7pm; Warschaubar, Sonnenalle

2. Act Loading: “A Problem of Education: Hearing and Seeking”
with Loading Diyarbakir.
Exhibition and event with working groups. Food and drinks
22 February 2018, 7pm; Neue Nachbarschaft

3. Act Moving: “Dedicated to Sevgi”
Screening and readings
31 March 2018, Time schedule & Location: TBA

4. Act Renaming: “Think Louder, Write Louder, Act, Sing Louder”
Public domain and open studios
2 June 2018, Time schedule & Location: TBA