Exhibition: “Shared Sacred Sites” in the Balkans and the Mediterranean (September 23, 2017)

Exhibition opens on September 23, 2017 and will run through December 2017
International workshop to take place on September 24, 2017

Thessaloniki Museum of Photography
Thessaloniki, Greece

“Shared Sacred sites”, a touring exhibition planned for September to December 2017 in Thessaloniki by a French-US collaboration team of researchers and curators, uses visual, interactive and mixed media to create an immersive visitor experience of a long, yet less known tradition in the Mediterranean: that of sharing of places, practices, and figures between the three monotheistic religions. Looking at the historical and the contemporary practices of sharing places, prayers and stories between Christians, Muslims and Jews it offers a timely alternative narrative to current debates on religion and violence and discourses of hatred, exclusion and fundamentalism. Having been originally curated by Dionigi Albera and Manoël Penicaud at the Musée des Civilisations et de la Méditerranée (MUCEM) in Marseille in 2015, it was redesigned for the Bardo Museum in Tunis (November 2016 – Feburary 2017), almost year after the horrible terrorist attack at the museum, and is planned to travel to Paris, Marrakesh, Istanbul and New York in 2018.

Our team of curators and researchers is currently working on reimagining the exhibition’s powerful story for Thessaloniki, in partnership with the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, and with generous funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation along with the Nicholas J. and Anna K. Bouras Foundation, and the support of the Mayor and the City of Thessaloniki. We consider Thessaloniki, in its regional significance and its particularly rich history of diversity, a prime site not only to host this exhibition but also to be showcased in it. Thessaloniki was, throughout the history of the Ottoman Empire, one of the most vibrant multi-ethnic and multi-religious trading cities of the empire. Its conviviality attracted communities of all different religions and became known throughout the Empire. One needs to walk in city neighborhoods today to see the vestiges of this interfaith tolerance and collaboration. The city’s diverse character was violently dismantled by the Nazi occupation of Greece and the annihilation of its Jewish community. Rethinking the city’s multicultural past has recently become significant and efforts are being made to retrace it. Through this exhibition, we aim to revisit the city’s legacy of sharing, tolerance and diversity. The narrative of tolerance and diversity becomes particularly critical as Greece finds itself in the middle of a double financial and a humanitarian refugee crisis at the margins of Europe and at the crossroads of human flows and mobility across the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Considering current debates of inclusion and exclusion, borders, encounters and interactions in Europe, the “Shared Sacred Sites” exhibition offers an alternative view of the Mediterranean as an open, shared and networked space and sheds light to both historical legacies of coexistence and contemporary cases of faith communities living and praying together.

For more general information on the Shared Sacred Sites exhibit and its history, please click here.

For the report and a selected photo gallery on the Thessaloniki exhibition from September 2017, please click here.

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