The Global Art Project

Orhan Pamuk: The Art of Fiction

The Art of Fiction offers a unique journey through Orhan Pamuk’s literature, with The Museum of Innocence as the focal point. 

Orhan Pamuk’s critically acclaimed novel The Museum of Innocence is both a classic love story and an ode to Istanbul. On its most basic level The Museum of Innocence is the story of Kemal who falls so deeply in love with Füsun that he becomes obsessed with collecting objects that remind him of the time they spent together before fate would tear them apart—not only once but twice. These objects are spun into a nostalgic and sentimental story that also paints a vivid picture of Istanbul from the 1970s to the early 2000s.  

As viewers, we are invited to consider the symbolism of real objects that relate to a fiction. As readers, we are confronted with reality through intermittent references to Orhan Pamuk and the museum that he would later create to house the objects that Kemal collects. This playful balance between fiction and reality—so typical of Orhan Pamuk’s literary style—teases our understanding of both.  Neither a book about a museum, nor a museum about a book, these are two sides of the same story; one told through words, the other expressed through objects. As such, an epic tale of love, an ode to Istanbul, and an unprecedented work of art come together to reveal the full potential of the relationship between words and images, literature and art.

The exhibition features twenty-nine replicas of vitrines from The Museum of Innocence in Istanbul.  Inside each vitrine is a selection of carefully composed objects that reference specific chapters in the novel The Museum of Innocence.  It is worth mentioning the strong link between Orhan Pamuk’s vitrines and Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes as Pamuk’s vitrines are based on many of the same principles: ready-mades, found objects, assemblage, the relationship between objects, and surrealism.  

The vitrines are complemented by historical film footage, family photographs, a sound component, and an interactive video presentation of Orhan Pamuk’s notebooks filled with texts and watercolors. The Art of Fiction also features twelve original accordion notebooks filled with words and images, which have never been presented or published previously. These serve to emphasize the importance of Orhan Pamuk’s role as a visual artist. In  fact, he dreamed of becoming an artist until the age of twenty-three when “a screw fell loose” and he decided to become an author. Although Pamuk went on to become an award winning author the artist inside him never died. In its entirety the exhibition demonstrates that literature and art are of equal importance to Orhan Pamuk.

The exhibition opened at The Museum of Cultural History, Oslo on May  22, 2017 and will be on view through October 15, 2017. The exhibition is accompanied by an audioguide, and a fully illustrated book with texts by Orhan Pamuk, Bernt Brendemoen, and Selene Wendt. 

The exhibition is supported by The Foundation for Free Speech, The Norwegian Cultural Council, The City of Oslo (Kulturetaten), Films from the South, and Bergesenstiftelsen. 

Iké Udé: Nollywood Portraits: A Radical Beauty

The Nigerian born, New York-based artist Iké Udé is internationally renowned for his performative, often autobiographical approach to photography. Strongly influenced by the histories of art and fashion, his portraits involve the kind of excessive pagentry one might associate with ornate Renaissance painting. According to the online magazine Artsy,  “As the Renaissance reasserted the importance of individuality (and mirrors became more widely available), self-portraiture exploded as a genre of its own—one that persists today in ever-expanding forms. Whether as a traditional model, a vehicle for formal experiments, or a stand-in for personas or identities, artists take advantage of the self as a readily available subject, both immediately relatable and rich with complex associations.” In the same article Iké Udé is listed as one of the ten greatest masters of portraiture, placed among artists such as Rembrandt, Warhol, and Cindy Sherman. 


During a career that has already spanned decades, Iké Udé has consistently challenged classic distinctions between art and fashion. With the launch of his legendary art, culture and fashion magazine aRUDE in 1995, he set the standard for what would be a flourish of similar magazines worldwide in the many years to follow. Iké Udé’s participation in a long list of important solo and group exhibitions has contributed to his prominence as a contemporary artist. His work is frequently exhibited at leading museums and institutions around the world and is also included in the collections of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; The Smithsonian National Museum, Washington, DC; and The Museum of Art and Design, NY to name only a few. Beyond Decorum (MIT Press, 2000), which accompanied a traveling exhibition and was the first comprehensive publication about his photography; Style File: The World’s Most Elegantly Dressed (Harper Collins, 2008), and Style and Sympathies, published on the occasion of his solo exhibiton at Leila Heller Gallery in 2013, are among his most noteworthy publications.

Nollywood Portraits : A Radical Beauty is arguably IkéUdé’s most ambitious and culturally significant body of work to date. The full version of the exhibition, which will tour internationally,  features 64 impeccably mastered individual portraits printed as pigment on satin rag paper (36.54” x 40” each), and a group portrait printed as UV ink on photographic SL linen (15’ 5” x 25’ 3”). Entitled The School of Nollywood, this large-scale portrait is created in the spirt of Raphael’s High Renaissance fresco The School of Athens. The exhibition is complemented by a feature-length documentary film Nollywood in Focus in which Iké Udé interviews the most important actors and players in Nigerian cinema.

Iké Udé captures the essence of each of his subjects with the skill of a master painter.  His painstakingly composed portraits are tweaked to perfection through his keen attention to every detail and his use of vivid, vibrant colors. The result is an unusually powerful counterpoint to the instant imagery typical of our digital age. These photographs speak the rich visual language of classical portraiture, while the context extends the conversation to a timely discussion about the social and cultural impact of Nollywood worldwide.

These portraits convey the style and elegance of the individuals who have played an active role in making Nigerian cinema what it is today: a globally recognized movie industry that has captured the hearts of fans all over the African contintent and  throughout the African diaspora. Although the history of Nigerian cinema dates back to the late nineteenth century, these portraits convey what Nollywood, a term that was coined twenty years ago, means today. If Nollywood’s  ranking as the second largest film industry worldwide is purely quantitative, these are the individuals who are working to improve its qualitative ranking in tact with its ever-increasing visibility worldwide. While each of the portraits capture what makes Nollywood sparkle, the exhibition as a whole emphasizes the significance of Nollywood as a cultural phenomenon that has succeeded in transcending cultures and continents, with an overall impact that can only be compared to Hollywood or Bollywood.  

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated Skira publication, with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., an introduction by Chigozie Obioma, and essays by Sarah Nuttall, Osahan Akpala, Olu Oguibe, Helen Trompeteler, and Toni Kan. 

The Art of Storytelling / A arte de contar histórias

The Art of Storytelling was inspired by Latin American literature and its distinct tradition of storytelling, and features work by contemporary artists whose work is directly inspired by poetry and literature. Authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, João Guimarães Rosa, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez have all had a tremendous influence on the development of literature and poetry both in their own countries and internationally. Latin American literature has also been a valuable source of inspiration not only for readers and other authors, but also for artists. The result is a comprehensive exhibition that features contemporary artists whose work is directly inspired by literature and poetry. 

The Art of Storytelling was created specifically for MAC Niterói, with special focus on Brazilian artists. The exhibition includes a very important community aspect that involved a collaboration with the artist/writers collective Dulcinéia Catadora. We developed a book project and series of workshops created to engage youth from the local community in the outcome of the catalog in the months leading up to the exhibition, using art and literature as tools to create a positive impact on their lives. 

Participating artists: Gilvan Barreto, Dulcinéia Catadora, Marilá Dardot, Magne Furuholmen, Lobato & Guimarães, William Kentridge, Cristina Lucas, Fabio Morais, Ernesto Neto, Ulf Nilsen, André Parente, Rodrigo Petrella, Rosana Ricalde, Eder Santos, Elida Tessler, Sergio Bernardes/Guilherme Vaz, and Nina Yuen. 

Follow the link to see the film about the Dulcineia Catadora book project for The Art of Storytelling:

Jamaican Routes

Stuart Hall suggested that one should think of culture not necessarily as a return to roots, but rather in terms of routes, an idea that fully embraces an expansive notion of culture. This includes the routes by which people travel and also how culture travels, moves, develops, changes and migrates. As such, the exhibition title Jamaican Routes pays homage to Stuart Hall, and also serves to emphasize that although rooted in Jamaica, the exhibition extends well beyond Jamaica. The routes of this exhibition are complex and intertwined, reach from past to present, and back again. These routes are as influenced by history as they are by personal experience, whether they extend from Jamaica to Trinidad, The United States to Mauritius, from Kentucky to Kingston, or whether they are local routes that lead from Half Way Tree to the hills of Saint Andrew.  

Already well known in Jamaica and the Caribbean, the eleven participating artists featured in Jamaican Routes are young artists whose careers are on the rise internationally.  The  works in the exhibition address a wide range of topics, including the social, cultural and political implications of Jamaican music as well as themes that relate to Jamaican cultural and identity issues in more general terms. Although not a strictly thematic exhibition, the intricacies of Jamaican music, and dancehall in particular, provide a powerful undertone for many of the works featured in Jamaican Routes.  The works have been carefully selected to provide a meaningful and nuanced impression of Jamaican contemporary art through video, film, photography, painting, works on paper and installations.  

The exhibition catalogue is designed by Richard Mark Rawlins, a Trinidadian  artist and designer based in Port of Spain (with strong ties to Jamaica and a deep understanding of Jamaican culture). Richard Mark Rawlins is also publisher of Draconian Switch, an art and design e-magazine. In addition to a curatorial essay by Selene Wendt, contributions to the catalogue include essays by the prominent writers Annie Paul, and Nicole Smythe-Johnson. Annie Paul is a writer and art critic based in Kingston, who also writes extensively about Jamaican music. Her blog Active Voice features witty commentary on current events in Jamaica, the Caribbean, India and the world. Nicole Smythe-Johnson is an independent curator and writer based in Kingston.  

Participating artists:  Camille  Chedda, Andrea Chung, Marlon James, Leasho Johnson, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Oneika Russell, Ebony G. Patterson, Storm Saulter, Cosmo Whyte and Andre Woolery.

Dulcinéia Catadora book project and workshops for The Art of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling is a thematic exhibition that features international contemporary artists whose work is inspired by literature and poetry. Curated by Selene Wendt specifically for Museu de Arte Contemporanea (MAC) Niterói in Brazil, the exhibition takes place June 16 - July 24, 2016. 

To reflect the importance of the societal dimension of the exhibition project Selene Wendt developed a special book project and series of workshops in collaboration with Lúcia Rosa of the Dulcinéia Catadora collective.  During the workshops we produced 500 one-of-a-kind cardboard covers for The Art of Storytelling exhibition catalog/book. More specifically, youth from the neighboring Morro do Palacio favela, as well as catadores and students from local schools, were directly engaged in the actual outcome of the book to the extent that it reflects their dreams, aspirations, stories and ideas. The book also features information about the exhibition as well as documentation of various aspects of the workshops, in addition to short stories and poems by Paulo Scott, Sergio Sant'Anna and Fabio Morais. 

The creative  process involved engaging the youth to paint the covers cut from cardboard boxes both freehand and with the aid of stencils. The handmade process means that each cover is a unique cover created out of recycled cardboard boxes. Exposing the youth to literature is an essential aspect of the workshops, and each workshop began with Lúcia Rosa reading a poem and a short story. Additional writers and artists were also invited to meet with and inspire the participating youth. Invited guests included Magne Furholmen and Rosana Ricalde, who are also participating artists in the exhibition, as well as Paulo Scott.  

Dulcinéia Catadora’s work in general is driven by clearly defined ideals. They provide a platform for artistic and literary expression for individuals whose voices would otherwise not be heard and for the underprivileged of society, which is why Dulcinéia Catadora also pays workers of the recycling cooperative (catadores) who are members of the Dulcinéia Catadora collective for the books that they make. With The Art of Storytelling book project, both the youth and the catadores who were involved were directly compensated for their time and participation.

What makes The Art of Storytelling book project so special is that it provided a unique opportunity to empower underprivileged youth within the context of an important international exhibition at an established Brazilian museum. By bringing the youth into the project at an early stage, with art and literature as our tools, we sought to empower the youth and ensure that their voices were heard in terms of the hand-painted covers, the actual content of the publication, and also in relation to a collective work that will become an important and vital part of the exhibition itself.

Our goal is that the successful completion of this project will plant the seed for similar community projects. As such, the project signals the first stage of a long-term vision to revitalize the entire community surrounding Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Niterói.  This will include collaborations with nearby institutions such as Museu Janete Costa de Arte Popular and Solar do Jambeiro, the revitalization of the neighboring Ilha de Boa Viagem to restore it to a cultural gathering place, and an overall increase in socially engaged initiatives that will create a lasting and meaningful dialogue between the local community and Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Niterói. Ultimately, the impact and societal benefits of The Art of Storytelling book project will continue to resonate beyond the timeframe of the workshops and exhibition to benefit everyone involved.

Participating artists in the exhibition:

Gilvan Barreto, Dulcinéia Catadora, Marilá  Dardot, Magne Furuholmen, Lobato & Guimaraes, William Kentridge, Cristina Lucas, Fabio Morais, Ernesto Neto, Ulf Nilsen, Andre Parente, Rodrigo Petrella, Rosana Ricalde, Eder Santos, Elida Tessler, Sergio Bernardes/Guilherme Vaz and Nina Yuen.  

Here is the film about the project:

Mind the Map

In 2014 Norway celebrated the 200-year anniversary of its constitution. To mark this occasion, Punkt Ø/Galleri F 15 invited Selene Wendt to curate an exhibition that also included archival maps from around the time of the signing of The Moss Convention, which was the peace treaty that formed the basis for the union between Sweden and Norway.  Historical maps were complemented by a more comprehensive presentation of contemporary art, featuring work by artists who work with cartography and maps either directly or in a more subtle manner, resulting in an exhibition that is political, poetic, conceptual and highly visual, revealing issues related to power structures and geopolitics seen from the perspective of a world in constant change. The historical aspect of the exhibition emphasizes the importance of Moss to the outcome of Norwegian history. Expanding the parameters of the exhibition from the topic of a local site of national importance, the work of these international contemporary artists helps to emphasize the importance of a more global perspective rather than an overly nationalistic one.

Participating artists: Mona Hatoum, Bouchra Khalili. Joyce Kozloff, Miler Lagos, Kevin Simón Mancera, Julie Mehretu,  Fabio Morais, Vik Muniz, Rosana Ricalde and Susan Stockwell

The Storytellers: Narratives in International Contemporary Art

An exhibition featuring international artists who are directly inspired by literature. Curated in collaboration with Gerardo Mosquera. Participating artists: Georges Adéagbo, Liliana Angulo, Mónica Bengoa, Milena Bonilla, Monika Bravo, Ryan Brown, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Eloisa Cartonera, William Cordova, Mariliá Dardot, Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Lobato & Guimarães, Cristina Lucas, Fabio Morais, Ernesto Neto, Ulf Nilsen, Rosana Ricalde, Eder Santos, Tracey Snelling, Valeska Soares, Elida Tessler, Sergio Vega, Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, and Nina Yuen.

Accompanied by Skira Publication, with texts by Mario Vargas Llosa, Gerardo Mosquera, Paco Barragán and Selene Wendt as well as an interview between Marilá Dardot & Cao Guimarães.

Participating artist in The Storytellers: Ernesto Neto

To enter the world of Ernesto Neto is to take a personal journey of the imagination, and with Circleprototemple, 2010, we are also introduced to the philosophical and metaphysical world of Jorge Luis Borges. Neto’s installation makes specific reference to The Circular Ruins, an intricate and complicated tale that involves the journey of a wizard who enters circular ruins where he has one goal, to create a son through his own dreams and imagination. Ernesto Neto’s red, heart-shaped structure is a fantastic metaphor for the beating heart described in Borges’ story; the drum inside immediately brings to mind the intense sound of a heartbeat. 

Participating artist in The Storytellers: Marilá Dardot

Marilá Dardot captures the complexity and mystery of Jorge Luis Borges’ famous short story, The Book of Sand, in an exquisite work that she created in 1999. Her interpretation of this Borgesian tale is, in fact, a book of mirrors. From a bibliophile’s perspective, the work resonates with the beauty of a rare and coveted book. The conceptual power lies in the link to the paradoxical book that is featured in Borges’ short story, which is built around the idea of a book  whose pages are infinite. As described in classic Borgesian prose, “neither sand nor this book has a beginning or an end.” As is typical for Borges, the tale is spun from an intricate web of secrets, treasures, riddles and dreams related in a surreal and unforgettable narrative.  

Participating artist in The Storytellers: Tracey Snelling

Tracey Snelling is known for her multimedia installations. Typically, her works are conceived as small, almost dollhouse size, buildings with windows and doors filled with small LCD screens where various life stories unfold.  For The Storytellers, Tracey Snelling created five new works that are directly inspired by Latin American literature and poetry, referencing  Mario Vargas Llosa, The Bad Girl, Reinaldo Arenas, The Parade Ends, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,  Octavio Paz, As One Listens to the Rain and Pablo Neruda, Isla Negra.