2021 - 2022

The Octopus Programme



In partnership with 10 international institutions from seven countries, SAHA Studio participates in the Octopus Programme. SAHA Studio artists Bengü Karaduman and Eser Epözdemir are amongst the participating artists and SAHA’s director Çelenk Bafra acts both as one of the curators and lecturers of the Octopus Programme, led by curator and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Başak Şenova, visiting professor at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.  

The Octopus Programme is a guided, research-based educational programme, which encourages artistic research and production-based collaborations between academies, art institutions, students and professionals and includes diverse presentation modes, processes of research and documentation taking form within and from different geographies. By merging the viewpoints of academic entities and contemporary art institutions and utilizing their facilities and activities, the programme aims to develop an autonomous and progressive educational methodology.

The programme intends to bridge and acknowledge social and cultural diversity in the targeted geographical regions—Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa—and values the ambiguity between or among: socio-political realities and perspectives; interdisciplinary approaches; academic and non-academic intellectual models; forms of artistic research and practices; divergent perspectives on artistic production methodologies; individual and community-based approaches; top-down and grass-root organisation models; accessed and distributed resources and facilities; strategies of environmental sustainability; artistic challenges and opportunities; different funding possibilities; institutional and alternative curatorial practices; forms of engagement of artists, audiences and institutions; forms of innovative and technology-driven mindsets; and diverse knowledge production models.


The Octopus Programme concludes with the Octopus exhibition as the most comprehensive iteration of the experimental curatorial and educational path the Octopus Programme has pursued. The exhibition presents an accumulation of research and process-based works by its participants, associated actors, and its curated archive. the Octopus also features prominent examples from certain guest lecturers who have influenced the programme.

After a long-term extensive ideation process by Barbara Putz-Plecko, Başak Şenova, and Lina Lazaar, the Octopus Programme was initiated in 2019 by University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Kamel Lazaar Foundation with a pilot phase linking Vienna and Tunis. In 2020, the programme launched its main phase as a joint project by University of Applied Arts Vienna; Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunis; Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts, and Design, Index, Stockholm; The University of Pretoria; The Centre for The Less Good Idea, Johannesburg; Birzeit University, the Palestinian Museum, Birzeit; Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah; SAHA Association, Istanbul; Publics and Saastamoinen Foundation, Helsinki. were selected by Five interconnected evaluation committees selected participants from Austria, Finland, Tunisia, Palestine, South Africa, Sweden, and Turkey.

The Octopus Programme was designed as a three-credit course, “Spectral Encounters” per semester, centralised at the University of Applied Arts Vienna as the backbone of the programme. The study included peer-to-peer educational sessions, online and class discussions, research field trips, exchange programmes, tutorials, workgroups, collaborative production-based workshops, and lectures.Led by Başak Şenova in Vienna, the programme received contribution from Karim Sultan in Tunis; Maria LantzMagnus Bärtås, Anne Klontz and Marti Manen in Stockholm; William Kentridge, Phala Ookeditse Phala, and Bronwyn Lace in Johannesburg; Johan Thom in Pretoria; Tina Sherwell in Birzeit; Renad Shqeirat in Ramallah; Çelenk Bafra in Istanbul; Paul O’Neill and Marja Karttunen in Helsinki.

The programme developed new critical perspectives to process artistic research and practices while bridging and acknowledging the diversity of socio-political realities; academic and non-academic intellectual models; accessed and distributed resources and facilities; and diverse knowledge production models. By merging the viewpoints of academic entities and contemporary art institutions, the programme has developed a generative research methodology by creating an autonomous network.

the Octopus (June 2–17, 2022, Angewandte Interdisciplinary Lab) presents Alina Rentsch (Germany/Sweden), Bengü Karaduman (Turkey), Bochra Taboubi (Tunisia), Conny Zenk (Austria), Els Van Houtert (Netherlands/Austria), Eser Epözdemir (Turkey), Férielle Doulain (France/Tunisia), Julia Stern (Austria), Kim M. Reynolds (US/South Africa), Maarit Mustonen (Finland), Nondumiso Lwazi Msimanga (South Africa), Noor Abed (Palestine), Sofia Priftis (Sweden), Sophia Bellouhassi (Germany/Austria), Verena Miedl-Faißt (Germany/Austria), Younes Ben Slimane (Tunisia/France) with special guests: Bronwyn Lace (South Africa/Austria), Ebru Kurbak (Turkey/Austria), Egle Oddo (Italy/Finland), Johan Thom (South Africa), Jyoti Mystry (South Africa/Sweden), Hristina Ivanoska (Macedonia/Germany), Larissa Sansour (Palestine/UK), Lisl Ponger (Austria), Marcus Neustetter (South Africa/Austria), Publics (Finland), William Kentridge (South Africa), Yane Calovski (Macedonia/Germany), The Zone, and associated actors: Cristiana De Marchi (Italy/Lebanon/United Arab Emirates), Cazlynne Peffer (South Africa), Dylan Graham (South Africa), Indalo Bennet (South Africa), Nirual Kenabru (Austria), Nisrine Boukhari (Syria/Austria), Teboho Lebakeng (South Africa), Zhou Yuqi (China), opening performance by Gischt & Conny Zenk (Austria) and Misonica (Germany/Austria) also guided tours by Barbara Putz-Plecko (Austria); by Anderwald+Grond (Austria) and by Johannes Jäger (Switzerland/Austria).

the Octopus is accompanied by a three-day public programme—June 2–3 and June 5—at Tonkino Saalbau (Flachgasse 25, 1150 Vienna) by the exhibition's artists and other contributors including Isa Rosenberger (Austria), Larissa Sansour (Palestine), Lisl Ponger (Austria), Mohamad Bazzi (Lebanon/Sweden), Nikolaus Gansterer (Austria), Paul Krimmer (Austria), Ramesh Daha (Austria), Renad Shqeirat (Palestine), Renger Van Den Heuvel (The Netherlands/Austria), Yasser Jridi (Tunisia), and Zeyneb Raissi (Tunisia).

A book will be published as part of University of Applied Art Vienna, Edition Angewandte / De Gruyter Verlag in 2023.


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