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The Cabinet of Local Wonders comes to Amed!

Collected by a group of young cultural actors, the cabinet shows objects and tells stories about disappearing cultural heritage in our town in Southeast Anatolia: Amed/Diyarbakır, and especially Sur, the old city.
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Gathered through meetings and interviews with locals of different ages and backgrounds, this exhibition aims at sharing local wonders – those that are overlooked, that are pushed to the margins or that have already vanished. Memories of who we are and what we can learn from our past. Each object comes with a story: enjoy discovering them!

The Cabinet of Local Wonders is a growing sociocultural exhibition that documents and shares the cultural richness of our region. The objects exhibited in the cabinet consist of tangible and intangible cultural assets. They tell locally significant stories of living spaces, historical and contemporary, and the memories that resist it. They are as varied as the experiences and identities in our region - you will find objects connected to local dishes and the way they are tied to peoples’ lives, plants of local value that have been embroidered into many areas of life, objects relating to the ongoing practice of birding in the old city, as well as the time-defying “Deq” tattoo art.

The objects in the Cabinet exhibition and its’ stories convey topics such as forced migration, cultural habits that have come from the past but that cannot be maintained, and the change of the urban and rural social fabric due to the effects of political events on social and economic life. It frames memories of a city that resists time and destruction, while marking its traces in human lives and their social bonds. Their poetic, funny, sad or mundane character encapsulates what often is overlooked and therefore forgotten: local wonders, bearing wisdom, knowledge and experience within our natural and social surroundings. While you wander through this little exhibition, cultural heritage is decaying into oblivion, due to socio-political circumstances and the lack of people who continue its passing-on.

The exhibition’s name refers to the “cabinet of curiosities” or “Wunderkammer”, the first prototype of today’s museums. Our cabinet differs from other classical forms of exhibition in that it invites our visitors to explore and interact with the objects, rummage through it, listen to and read the stories that accompany them while being embedded in a social frame – the opportunity to be together with other people who share curiosity and enthusiasm for our ancient city.

The stories were collected in the frame of a workshop in April 2023 with the Altenburg Hub as part of the VAHA Programme’s Dissemination Phase. In cooperation with the Mordem Sanat Cultural Centre, young artists conducted interviews with locals in and around Diyarbakır. These structured conversations took as departure point a specific practice, feelings about being at home or turning points in the peoples’ lives as a starting point. The objects you encounter in this exhibition are the “pearls” gathered from these conversations, each containing a different experience, memory and cultural reflection. When reading the stories, you will notice that they do not disclose background information to the narrator of the story, such as age or gender. In this way, objects gain an additional mysterium typical to a “cabinet of curiosities”, calling for the visitor’s imagination and speculation. Purposefully left ambiguous, we shift our focus to the narrative and object-life – the way the contributing person wanted them to be framed. This process opens up a fruitful inner monologue and hopefully sparks curiosity to go on one’s own research for local wonders: by talking to those who (still) hold the knowledge and preserve wonders!

You can downlload the exhibition catalogue with the stories in Turkish, Kurdish and English through these links:

    Kurdî    English 

We are grateful to everyone who shared their dreams, fears and goals with us in the interviews and lent us their objects – there are more to come! If you wish to contribute to the exhibition, contact us.

To find out more about the whole project and its origins in Altenburg (Germany) and Antalya (Turkey), click here.

The first presentation of the cabinet took place from 20 June to 3 July at Mordem Art Center.

For any further inquiries, please contact: