Over a period of five days, the art-lab fear & identity brought together 50 artists from Palestine and Germany as well as several international guests in digital space. There was discussion, debate and artistic research on the complex topics of fear and identity. The question of whether international cultural work is even possible in times of non-mobility can now be confidently answered with "Yes!"
On the last day, when the sounds of the piano of the final concert by Elefant Bird and Max Freytag fell silent and one looked through the various small boxes of the screen into a multitude of the most diverse realities of life, one briefly became aware of where one was actually sitting and what had happened over the last few days...
Artists from Palestine and Germany, as well as guests from Uganda, Brazil, Syria and Belgium, discussed personal and social fears and identities in an unbelievably intense and personal way in the digital space and worked artistically in a way that no one had thought possible. Despite all fears, the digital art-lab fear & identity was able to create a very touching and personal bridge between the artists. The digital space turned out to be more of a blessing than a curse, because it focused on people and their personal stories like a magnifying glass. Closeness was felt and thoughts of distance did not even arise.
Starting from an icebreaking session led by Abramz Tekya, the participants got to know each other on the first day and jointly created the Community Goals. The establishment of a "safe space" was the primary goal, as we wanted to exchange, share and discuss openly, personally, artistically and discursively with the sensitive thematic complex of "fear and identity".
Impressive impulses and a stimulating discussion were provided by the input of Bebe de Soares in the afternoon, who spoke about the necessities of "fair collaboration" in international artistic cooperation projects. Finally, George Ibrahim presented an overview of the Palestinian cultural scene from the 1930s to the present day and, with the help of the Al Kasaba Theatre and biographical elements, guided the participants through decades of enduring cultural work that defied all odds.
On the second day, the input of the author Martin Schäuble, based on his dystopian novels, initiated a discussion that rather pessimistically illuminated the human history still to come. Insights into creative writing processes and the naming of current grievances through the transformation into the near future and into the "science-fiction genre" made the participants think and work on current dystopian scenarios.
With his profound lecture on the third day, Khader Rasras gave the artists insights into dream research. Based on his many years of work at the TRP (Treatment and Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture in Palestine) and as a renowned clinical psychologist, scientific aspects were brought to the foreground and inspired the participants to a profound discussion. In the creative lab in the afternoon, these were put to the test and an attempt was made to find out how to deal with supposedly "difficult" topics in an artistic and aesthetic way.
The work on content was continued thematically on the fourth day and deepened and discussed around the aspect of corporeality through the lecture by Raffaela Then. Trauma and healing through bodywork was complemented by the aspect of architecture in the creative laboratory of the dancers and "places of fear" were presented.
The participants were able to gather their own experiences in an openly guided dance session.
The final day was dedicated to future projects. The thematic excursion into the history of Palestinian cultural identity and the current fears of the Palestinian population living under occupation was impressively presented by Mohammed Shaheen in the morning.
Based on this, the pitch session in the afternoon was handled as an idea exchange for future collaborations. A multitude of ideas competed for the participants and various constellations came together, which finally publicly presented a first insight into the works to be expected.
The digital art-lab fear & identity ended with a touching concert by Elefant Bird, which provided musical accompaniment for the people who were gradually signing off ...but no one actually wanted to leave.
A successful start of the Palestinian-German Cultural Bridge and a successful kick-off event that will still have (artistic) consequences ...bridgeworks under construction!
Quotes from participants:
…I needed a day off to actually collect my by thoughts and emotions! Now I want to say Thank You! I felt so much more connected to this world than I have ever felt before and I will keep this precious experience in my heart. I will do my best to make this seed grow into future, hope, energy, visions, actions and art. (Josefine Patzold)
During these days together I felt I was sitting infront of a mirror not a screen, it was like a window to my soul...it was the first time in my life that I had a group experience without any misunderstandings, angry situation or any other unpleasant situation or energy! I couldn’t imagine we could speak so broadly about fear and identity, and the lectures or talks that we had awakened our own experiences and when we shared them we delved into these subjects in a way broader and deeper than the expectations I had before the lab. (Tamara Habash)
This was a mindblowing experience and I wanna thank you all very much! (Tilman Strauß)
Thank you very much for all the moments, laughs, emotions, experiences, thoughts, stories, words, silent moments, energy, support and smiles. Was such a great experience. (Abdallah Damra)
Thank you for this intense encounter with all of you. My perspective has broadened, my hearts been touched and I am left with many thoughts and questions, ideas and inspiration to dwell on. I guess the only question left is: When, where and how will we come together again to bring all this information and insights and energy into artistic fruition?! (Lou Strenger)