The City Speaks Exhibition

This exhibition shows how art and creative expression has a powerful role to play in our cities – as a means to reinvigorate and empower urban communities, to celebrate history and memory, to resist oppression and allow subcultures to grow, to overcome trauma and to provide street-level inspiration. 

Everyday life in the city is a constant experience of encounters with diverse voices and influences. The density of the city compresses this diversity into new identities and cultures which are distinctly urban, built on the multiple histories of those who have passed through the city streets in the decades and centuries before. 

People care about where they live and want to like where they live. Many of the stories in this exhibition have grown from attempts to create a home, to unify disparate or warring communities, or to find hope in the face of desolate marginalisation. The city can only flourish through its people, who shape it physically and imaginatively.

JR in action

'The City Speaks' is a partnership between Maslaha and the British Council's Our Shared Europe project.

Our Shared Europe is the British Council’s response to some of the major cultural challenges facing our continent today.

Working closely with international and local partners, Our Shared Europe creates opportunities to discuss and share our perspectives on issues such as diversity, migration, community cohesion, inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue.

Our Shared Europe seeks to explore our shared values, perspectives and behaviours in a way that is based on mutual respect and trust. In particular it is about how to acknowledge the role diverse communities have played in the shaping of contemporary European society – both in the past and the present. 

One of the project’s central themes is the substantial and multidimensional contribution made by Muslim individuals and communities to European culture and identity.

Our Shared Europe combines a wide range of activities – eg conferences, debates, workshops, research and exhibitions – organised in collaboration with our partners across the continent.

Evliya Celebi exhibition

Evliya Celebi’s birth really occurs when he begins to travel and write, spurred on by dreams at pivotal moments in his life.

His ten volumes of writing called Seyahatname - Book of Travels - are still being translated, but they provide a unique insight into 17th century Istanbul and the city’s relationship with the wider world including London, Cairo and Vienna.

Evliya’s style of writing was unusual and did not fit any particular genre and mirrors a man who was a complex mix of pious Muslim, soldier, musician, raconteur, and writer.

The team behind this exhibition is perhaps rightly eclectic:the Khalili Collection, largest private Islamic art collection in the world; Royal Academy of Music; Suki Chan, an award winning film-maker who recently appeared in the BBC’s School of Saatchi;  Mercan Dede, an international sufi musician and DJ; and a number of leading historians including Caroline Finkel, author of the authoritative Osman’s Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire.

Evliya’s accounts vividly show the intricate conversations that occurred between what has been described as the Islamic world and Europe, through the eyes of a Muslim. As Robert Dankoff, author of an Ottoman Mentality: The World of Evliya Celebi writes, that to touch the text is to touch the man.

Maslaha is working in partnership with the British Council's Our Shared Europe project to build an online exhibition all about the constant mix of conversations that have occurred between Islamic people, cultures, societies and Europe.

The theme of the exhibition is TRAVEL - both of individuals and also ideas across time and geographical boundaries. In particular, we will focus on a 17th century Turkish traveller, Evliya Celebi, who wrote extensively of his travels to Europe and North African in his book, Seyahatname - Book of Travels.

This exciting exhibition will bring together Evliya's account with European accounts both in his time and two hundred years later using films, music, storytelling, unique archive images and much more.

Just to make things even more interesting, we are building a physical exhibition which we will capture digitally to turn into an online entity.

This project is supported by the British Council, as part of their Our Shared Europe project which seeks to acknowledge the contribution of Islamic communities and cultures – both in the past but also in the present – to the shaping of contemporary European civilisation and society.

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