New York City


exhibition opening Vienna
interpreter performance

sound & video installation

archive & birdhouses

360° tour


UNKNOWN SPACES - an artistic investigation of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, New York City, Nairobi, Geneva and their host communities

Vienna/ NYC/ Nairobi/ Geneva, 2011-2016

Inspired by the essay “Of Other Spaces“ by French philosopher Michel Foucault and the phenomenon „Worlds inside the World”, the two Berlin-based artists Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin chose to focus on the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, New York, Nairobi and Geneva as four different “Heterotopies“ positioned in three different urban environments. From 2011 onwards they collected over 70 interviews conducted with a wide spectrum of UN staff and people from the direct vicinity of the UN headquarters. 

How does the socio-cultural and geographic localization influence the work of UN staff inside their offices? What impact does the physical presence of the UN have on the local community? How do the UN staff members describe their everyday work? How does it relate to the content of the original UN Charta from 1945 today? What do people working and living around the UN compounds know and think about what‘s happening inside the UN offices? What interest do UN officials have in the culture of their host community? 

70 stories of everyday life in three cities and the collective struggle for „world peace“ are the theme of this artistic research work that concludes in a walk-in installation, a lecture performance, an exhibition and a workshop. An informal network of images, sounds, texts and objects spans across three continents, demonstrating the proven track record of interplay between individual microcosms and a global organization macrocosm. The complex UN-universe is artistically unfolded through a series of self-interpretations by involved individuals.

After exhibiting the work in Vienna in 2013, the exhibition travelled to Nairobi in 2014 before continuing on to New York City in 2015. The artists will complete their reseach by visiting the UN Geneva headquarters in spring/summer 2016. In each city, the UN.KNOWN SPACES art project is presented in a different format, adapted to the peculiarity of the environment and reflecting its characteristics.

The art project UN.KNOWN SPACES has been developed as an integral part of the large scale scientific research project “other spaces - knowledge through art”, funded by the FWF (Austrian Science Fund). The residences in 2012/13 in Nairobi and New York were supported by the Goethe-Institut.

Vienna 2013
May 3rd 2013, 7 pm opening and interpreter performance
May 4th to 9th 2013, 4 – 9 pm exhibition and workshop „the artists are present!“ 
May 9th 2013, 7 pm finissage and panel-discussion 
at Danube Tower Vienna, Donauturmstraße 4, A-1220 Wien,

concept and realisation: Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin
artistic participation: Vanessa Gageos and Samuel Gfeller
production management: Karola Saktonik
production office Berlin: ehrliche arbeit - freelance office for culture
public relations: Andrea Roedig
design: Frederike Wagner
documentation: Vanessa Gageos
with the participation of UN interpreters and residents of the 22nd disctrict

in cooperation with Oper Dynamo West

Nairobi 2014
June 26th 2014, 7pm opening and performance, Goethe-Institut
June 27th - July 17th 2014 exhibition, Goethe-Institut
June 27th to July 8th 2014, „the artists are present!“
July 4th-5th 2014, workshop with children of the Agape Hope Center in Dagoretti
July 8th, lecture performance at UN-headquarters Nairobi and  "casual commingling" at Goethe-Institut

at Goethe-Institut, Auditorium, Maendeleo House,Nairobi - Agape Hope Center Dagoretti – UN headquarters Nairobi, Gigiri

concept and realisation: Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin
artistic participation: Vanessa Gageos 
studio recordings: Samuel Gfeller
production management: Goethe-Institut and un.known spaces 
public relations: Goethe-Institut, UNIC, UNESCO
documentation: Vanessa Gageos
with the participation of Margret C. Kimaiyo, Oliver C. Chiraba and children of the Agape Hope Center Dagoretti

in cooperation with UNESCO, UNIC and Goethe-Institut

Vienna II 2015
March 12 - May 15 as part of the exhibition „United Nations Extended - The Vienna Dialog“ at Museumsquartier Wien /Quartier 21 / Freiraum INTERNATIONAL
April 20-24, Workshop with young refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia in context of the „Yourope needs You“ - initiative and in cooperation with „Zeitraum“ social profit project Vienna.

at Museumsquartier Wien, Museumsplatz 1/5, 1070 Wien,
exhibition curators: Signe Theill & Peter Winkels
UKS participation, concept and realisation: Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin
production management: Quartier 21
public relations: Quartier 21
documentation: Quartier 21/MQ/Hannah Schwegler
in cooperation with Museumsquartier Wien/Quartier 21, Zeitraum and JEF

New York City 2015
October 2015, UN-Headquarters NYC and Goethe-Institut NYC
concept and realisation: Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin
exhibition set up support: Mereth Ellerbeck, Volker Ellerbeck, Tanya von Barnau Sythoff
production management, communication with UN: Christian Doktor, Conrad Häßler for German Mission to the UN NYC
public relations: StäV, Goethe-Institut NYC, UN (DPI)
documentation: Mereth Ellerbeck, Tanya von Barnau Sythoff, Jacobia Dahm, StäV

in cooperation with Permanent German Mission to the United Nations in NYC and Goethe-Institut New York

Geneva 2016
June 6th - 10th 2016 research at UNOG / Palais des Nations
August 11th - 17th 2016 presentation at FAR° Festival Nyon
August 11th & 12th two guided tours through the UNOG compound combined with a lecture performance at the Assembly Hall

Concept & realisation : Janina Janke and Maurice de Martin
With the participation of UNOG staff members and inhabitants of Geneva and Nyon.
In collaboration with United Nations Offices at Geneva
Coproduction : far° Nyon
With the generous support of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and other international organisations in Geneva, the Permanent Mission of Germany at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and other international organisations in Geneva, and MIGROS Kulturprozent.