Performing Exiles Festival: Berlin as the Capital of the Exiled

During the 20th century, Berlin was a place from which people were forced to emigrate – now, however, the city has become a place of the exiled. The interdisciplinary festival “Performing Exiles” examines the concept of exile in the light of continual global changes and multiple migration movements.

July 27, 2023

A video still of lights which are long exposed and look like stripes of light

© Video Still Takbir, 2022; Courtesy Aziz Hazara Experimenter Kolkata

“After nearly 100 years, Berlin has once again become a capital of the exiled. Many of them are artists who left their countries of origin, often under difficult conditions, because of political oppression, perilous circumstances, observation, censorship or a lack of prospects for the future. Their experiences, perspectives and longings meet in the metropolis, shaping its cultural life.”
Matthias Lilienthal - director and dramaturgy of the Performing Exiles Festivals

Performing Exiles Festival

From June, 15th to June, 25th, Berliner Festspiele organises the interdisciplinary festival “Performing Exiles”. It examines the concept of exile in the light of continual global changes and multiple migration movements.

Beginning with the first day of the festival, featuring contemporary positions on the current situations in Lebanon, Iran and Ukraine, the programme clearly demonstrates that circumstances or reasons for exile cannot simply be compounded and compared. Instead, it aims to be a forum for Berlin-based artists, to bring together various scenes and perspectives and to raise the issue of the responsibility of (Berlin’s) cultural institutions for artists who live in the city and consider themselves to be in exile.

The Allianz Foundation supports the Summer School „School for Dissident Friendship“ which takes places in the framework of the festival. The “School for Dissident Friendship” is an intensive three-week study programme in Berlin that takes place within the context of the multidisciplinary festival “Performing Exiles”. Eighteen artists and cultural workers will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, seminars, mentoring sessions and visits to cultural institutions to develop their artistic practice in an interdisciplinary exchange.

The School for Dissident Friendship

Working through friendship, collaboration, and collective authoring, and starting from Berlin’s histories of diasporic struggles for self-determination, School for Dissident Friendship will reflect on how global artistic practices can articulate political entanglements and interdependencies across geographies and temporalities.

The Summer School was curated together with the non-profit organisation Ashkal Alwan. The organisation takes action in the face of an unprecedented wave of migration in Lebanon and the broader Arabic-speaking region, within an environment shaped through economic dispossession and cultural isolation.

Established in 1993 in Beirut, Ashkal Alwan is a non-profit organization, which aims to support contemporary artistic practice, rethink arts education, foster critical thinking around current social developments, and engage in community mobilization. The organization was originally conceived by a collective of artists, writers, and activists, as a place where art could be figured as a vessel for civic dialogue. Its educational programme, the Home Workspace Program, now entering its 13th edition, remains pivotal in providing alternative modes of artistic study.

Speakers and tutors of the Summer School are:

Marwa Arsanios, artist
Slavs and Tatars, artists 
Sinthujan Varatharajah, geographer and author 
Avery F. Gordon, sociologist