The idea of Sumac Space emerged in 2020 as a non-profit platform presenting contemporary art from the Middle East* through digital programs, critical writing and research. Devoted to the Middle East and its thriving contemporary art, we work with artists and curators, who address contemporary urgencies in the context of the challenging social and political circumstances of the region. Seeking new ways of experiencing art through digital modalities, Sumac Space experiments with rethinking the existing forms of art presentation and looks for meaningful uses of digital communication to meet, to relate, to be together. By experimenting with different methods, we search for ways to stimulate subjective imagination and critical relation against the currents of the attention economy and incessant excess of digital representation.
Alongside exploring our programs, such as digital Exhibitions, Sumac Space invites viewers to explore Artists’ Rooms and Dialogues. Artists’ Rooms are digital architectures curated entirely by artists themselves that are here to allow for connecting with the artists’ thinking process and research, beyond actual artworks. We believe that art practice is so much more than final works and therefore our aim is to disclose what is formative and proliferates artists’ practice on different levels. If Artists’ Rooms is primarily a space for viewing and contemplating relations between different artifacts and subjects, Dialogues is a place for being vocal. Here, authors and artists get together in conversations, interviews, essays and experimental forms of writing. We aim to create a space of exchange, where the published results are often the most visible manifestations of relations, friendships and collaborations built around Sumac Space.
At the core of our programming and publishing approach is our aim for different voices to be heard. We believe in the irreplaceable role of artists in re-imagining and shaping our pasts, presents and futures and that they must have a public place for their research and diverse forms of expression. Therefore, gradually building a community of artists, curators, researchers and writers, we invite diverse voices to actively participate in forming Sumac Space through curating exhibitions, writing texts, presenting work in progress and conveying conversations with each other. Collaboration and collective study are qualities we are proposing, not as themes and theoretical concepts but as unconditional ways of working.
Contact us to share ideas and proposals on how to work together and improve our ever-transforming programs.
* The geographical term Middle East is not neutral; rather, it is a Eurocentric word with colonial origins.
Sumac Space e.V., represented by the executive board:
District Court Freiburg im Breisgau, VR 703339
Tax number 0670/08333
Katharina Ehrl, b. 1985, Munich Germany.
After a bachelor professional in trade and commerce, Katharina decided to make her passion for art her profession and studied art history in Munich, Germany, and Venice, Italy. In addition to the art history of Sub-Saharan Africa, she concentrated in particular on the arts of Arabic-speaking countries.
Her research focus is on the development of modern and contemporary art in the Arab world and its diaspora, with an emphasis on Lebanon. This interest led her to complete her master’s degree with a thesis on the multiple references in the works of Etel Adnan and Saloua Raouda Choucair.
Currently, Katharina is part of the curatorial team of the Museum für Neue Kunst in Freiburg, Germany. Here, she co-curated Ping-Pong, a collaboration between the Museum für Neue Kunst and the Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg. Ping-Pong transcends the boundaries of the museum and enters the urban space of Freiburg. Since the beginning of 2021, she has also been senior research assistant for contemporary Middle Eastern art at an art advisory firm. From 2016 to 2018, she was assistant curator on the research and exhibition project Flow of Forms/Forms of Flow. Design Histories between Africa and Europe, which was presented in Munich as well as at the MARKK in Hamburg.
As a curator and researcher, her present interests, which she also pursues within the framework of Sumac Space, are concerned with alternate realities in contemporary art from the Middle East and its different forms of artistic expression. Katharina also researches on documentarism in the Arab world and the broader interactions between society and audio-visual art.
Davood Madadpoor, b. 1981, Tehran Iran.
Davood was born and raised in Tehran where he worked at the War Library as co-researcher on methods of archiving. His interests in the arts led him to pursue degrees in photography at the Iranian Photographers’ House and the Tehran University of Applied Sciences and Technology. He also worked as project coordinator and office manager at the Tehran Art Center (Hozeh Honari).
His passion for the arts further brought him to Florence where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in visual arts as well as a master’s degree in curatorial studies from the Accademia di Belle Arti. Here, he cultivated and explored his curatorial interests in the relationship between art practices and the material reality of day-to-day life, graduating with a thesis focused on local context as an impetus and inspiration for the art practices of artists-in-residence.
Since 2018, he is project coordinator and curatorial assistant at Villa Romana in Florence. In this capacity, he recently took the role of co-editor on a digital project entitled, The Broken Archive—Artistic Practices Bridging the Mediterranean, which was the fruit of a cooperation between Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin DE and Villa Romana. He also carried part of the curatorial responsibility for another exhibition project entitled Seeds for Future Memories: Voicing the Two Ends of Migration, in cooperation with ifa-Galerie, ACUD MACHT NEU and FREIRAUM in der Box (Berlin DE).
In 2021, he was selected to be part of the Digital Young Curators Academy in the 5. Berliner Herbstsalon, Maxim Gorki Theater.
The rest of his time is devoted to developing his research aligned with Sumac Space which revolves around interrogating and recasting everyday objects and events against the contemporaneous backdrop of a social and political landscape in flux.
As a curator, Davood seeks to explore this tension in his exhibitions through different narrations, story-telling, and fictions which reconstruct the contemporary day-to-day as a mixture of origin, transition, and an unknowable future.