Birds & Bicycles is conceived as a ‘factory of metaphors’, taking as its premise the ideas of freedom and the notion of borders, forever shifting and perpetually being crossed, where bicycles symbolise physical freedom, and birds metaphysical freedom; birds become the philosophy of freedom, and bicycles the technology of freedom. The overall manifestation of Birds & Bicycles is an international cooperation between 9 partners in Russia, Poland, and Germany, each hosting their own exhibitions and discussions focused around common values symbolized by the topics of freedom and crossing of borders. Based on social activism, historical reflections, and contemporary art, the project develops an expanding framework of participatory culture, with the contributions of each international partner brought together in a single online platform sharing the social, educational, and communicative results of the Birds & Bicycles initiative.
In Berlin, MOMENTUM presents Birds & Bicycles with the exhibition and symposium TAKING FLIGHT. Extrapolating from the metaphor of birds and bicycles, we build our program around the analogy of flight. Referring to the duality of the term flight as both an airborne means of travel and an escape from crisis, the metaphor of flight is especially important in the historical and contemporary context of Berlin.
From the aerial bombardment and destruction of Berlin in WWII resulting in reconstruction on-going to this day; to the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War, when for 15 months in 1948-49 American and British forces flew over Berlin more than 250,000 times to drop essential supplies to keep the population of West Berlin alive during the Soviet blockade; to the transformation of the Nazi-built Tempelhof Airport into Europe’s largest refugee camp in 2015 to house many thousands of migrants fleeing humanitarian crisis in their homelands to this day; to the Berlin Brandenburg Airport fiasco when, after a 10 year delay, seven missed opening dates, and over a billion euros over-budget, the German capitol’s new airport finally opened in 2020 amidst pandemic travel restrictions. In a city itself long divided, located in the geographical center of a divided Europe, the history of air travel in Berlin is a history of crisis, indivisible from the basic humanitarian need for freedom. It is an account of flight in both its senses – as a form of travel and a means of escape across borders. For the factory of metaphors which is Birds & Bicycles Berlin, TAKING FLIGHT assembles the work of 12 artists from the former Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, who are now Berliners. Representative of the significant cultural diaspora in Berlin from the former Eastern Bloc, the artists in this exhibition address the metaphor of flight as a symbol for freedom in various forms.
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