Performing Exiles Festival: Dive into Berlin’s performance scene at Haus der Berliner Festspiele
From June 15 to June 25, 2023, the festival "Performing Exiles" provides insights into the thrilling performance art scene in Berlin. The curator is Matthias Lilienthal in consultation with Rabih Mroué. The festival language is English.
The concept of exile
The interdisciplinary festival “Performing Exiles”, presented by Berliner Festspiele, examines the concept of exile in the light of continual global migration movements with the devices of theatre, performance, discourse and concert. It invites visitors to explore the description of exile beyond the narrow concepts of political persecution and flight.
During the 20th century, Berlin was a place from which people were forced to emigrate - now, however, the city has become a place for the exiled. For most artists, this is not an exile that excludes the option of returning to their home countries. In fact, their spheres of work and points of reference frequently shift between countries and continents.
The festival programme - which will also be taking place at the Academy of the Arts, Berlin, at HAU - Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, and at Heimathafen Neukölln, Berlin - includes two world premieres created by Berlin-based artists:
The Lesothian internationally renowned filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese has created his first work for the stage. In Ancestral Visions of the Future / Pageanty of Wailing he raises questions about the individual and collective identity of a pan-African community and asks how an African consciousness may be manifested within the global diaspora.
A performative walking tour curated by director Ada Mukhína, who was born in St Petersburg, takes participants to places of historical and current exile, which intertwine with the exile biographies of the three protagonists who guide through the streets of Berlin.
Other performances, such as Hartaqāt by Lina Majadalanie and Rabih Mroué, Blind Runner by Amir Reza Koohestani or News from the Past by Stas Zhyrkov refer to current situations in Lebanon, Iran and Ukraine.
Lina Majdalanie’s and Rabih Mroué’s Hartaqāt (Hérésies) is based on three texts by the Lebanese authors Rana Issa, Souhaib Ayoub and Bilal Khbeiz, who tell about their lives in Lebanon that they abandoned.
The work Blind Runner by the Iranian director Amir Reza Koohestani reflects the current situation in Iran and Europe in a storytelling performance about a prevented escape.
The Ukrainian-German devised play News from the Past asks: How can extreme violence be narrated? How do you evoke suffering - without repeating it?
In addition, artists are invited to the festival who do not work in Berlin, but whose positions are related to the festival theme "exile".
Marlene Monteiro Freitas will present her choreography idiota, analysing the theme of Pandora’s Box and addressing questions of death and evil. The performance takes place entirely in a small display case made of plexiglass: inside Pandora’s Box.
Brazilian theatre maker Christiane Jatahy, who received the Golden Lion award at the 2022 Venice Biennial for her life’s work, will address the entanglement of racism and capitalism in a multi-media performance.
Photo: Ancestral Visions of the Future © Lemohang Mosese
As part of the festival, there will be three discourse evenings with international guests at the Academy of the Arts.
The programme of All that is Musical in Us is Memory, curated by Natasha Ginwala and Magnus Elias Rosengarten, grapples with exile, kinships and (un)belonging. Angst, wie wir sie kennen ("Fear as we know it"), conceived by Fabian Saul and Senthuran Varatharajah, explores notions and representations of fear.
Eyal Weizman of Forensic Architecture / Forensis and Maksym Rokmaniko from the Center for Spatial Technologies have developed a multi-media lecture that reconstructs the destruction of the Drama Theatre in Mariupol, where thousands of civilians had looked for shelter from the Russian occupiers.
Robbie Aitken, Professor of Imperial History at Sheffield’s Hallam University, analyses forms of expression of Black identity and of resistance, using the example of a revue that premiered at Kliems Festsäle in Kreuzberg in 1930.
Another element of the festival programme are concerts by Vesna, a trio project of the Ukrainian musician Mariana Sadovska and - on the opening day - by the author and Winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2022 Serhij Zhadan, who will perform with his ska-band Zhadan i Sobaky.
The Senegalese curator and multi-disciplinary artist Alibeta will furthermore re-enact the Pinguin Bar after more than 70 years, which during its short-lived existence was a place for jazz, resistance and activism for the Black community in Berlin.
In cooperation with Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, the three-week School for Dissident Friendship for eighteen artists from Berlin, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt will show its results in a public presentation on 24 June.
Scenes and perspectives
"Performing Exiles" would like to be a platform for artists living in Berlin to bring together scenes and perspectives and to provide a comprehensive insight into the wide-ranging artistic creation of this city.
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Thumb photo: Blind Runner: © Benjamin Krieg