Exhibition: "ISLAM"


March 18 to November 5 2017

Crescent and Red Cross, an arabesque room in fin-de-siècle Vienna, Oriental spices from the supermarket: the "ISLAM" exhibition shows religious objects along with many other  stunning exhibits that tell the story of “Islam in Austria”.

How do different cultures and religions encounter one another in the first place? How do we deal with diversity? The exhibition focuses on Muslim cultures in Austria. Its point of departure are spaces of encounter as we find them today: familiar situations from everyday community life are used to ask highly relevant questions, shed light on historical  developments and push various different perspectives to the fore. They invite visitors to a more in-depth cultural encounter.

Expectations, attributions and contradictions form the lens through which we shall look at the exhibition objects and the stories attached to them. Dialogue with visitors should be a forum for as many different voices as possible, with plenty of room even for tentativeness and uncertainty. The “ISLAM” exhibition creates a space that enables a culture of  encounter and sparks a desire for closer examination and discussion.

Language creates identity and connects people. Communication is a bridge that brings people together. If the Arabic language associates Muslims, which language could serve as a bond between non-Muslims and Muslims?

Life in communities puts people from various cultures and walks of life into direct contact with one another. Tolerance is put to the test when one group feels disturbed by “the other”. How can we overcome cultural differences and benefit from the diversity of a vibrant, lively neighbourhood?

Prophet Muhammad and the Quran form the beating heart of Islam. But is there really just “the one” Islam? Do information and knowledge surrounding interpretations of the  Quran help foster understanding? Christians and Muslims: it’s fascinating what they have in common, and revealing what divides them.

Orient and Occident? The Islamic world is not necessarily something you can find on a map. Peoples wander, borders vanish. Even though new boundaries are being drawn within societies, there are many examples of strong multicultural ties on both sides.

Headscarf and the bare midriff look, full beard and close shave … External appearances and inner attitudes affect the way we live together. But how strongly do they shape people’s prejudices? To what extent do they influence our beliefs?

“The West” feels unsettled today by radical Muslims, but also by people who are themselves endangered by war. Who is afraid of whom? And where are the solutions?

Equal opportunities are a major challenge and important part of confident coexistence. Successful examples of this include the handling of workplace dress codes for social professions and service in the Austrian Armed Forces.

The “magic of the Orient” holds special appeal for many people. Jewellery, dance, art, stories and very special spices have painted a dreamy, exotic picture for centuries.  Crescents, kebab and baklava are already integral parts of our everyday lives. But what about the people who brought these delicacies to us?

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