Performing Exiles

15. – 25. June 2023

Curated by Matthias Lilienthal, advised by Rabih Mroué

The festival “Performing Exiles” presents an often disregarded scene of artists who live in Berlin. It reflects the description of exile beyond the narrow terminology of persecution; their biographies have been globalised from the outset. At the same time, it sees itself as a structural initiative and will form connections with international positions.

Logo Performing Exiles

Almost imperceptibly, something has changed in Berlin. Whenever I wanted to have a Zoom-meeting with Lebanese artists during my research for a festival on Lebanon, they would say: “But I’m in Neukölln”. A large proportion of Lebanese artists are living in Berlin. Even ten years ago, many of them preferred a split existence. They would commute between Beirut and Berlin or Paris and Los Angeles. Nowadays, they live almost exclusively in our city. And not only because of the pandemic that has been raging in recent years. 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.

In June 2023, Berliner Festspiele will host the ten-day festival “Performing Exiles” in cooperation with HAU – Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin, Heimathafen Neukölln, Berlin, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut and Akademie der Künste, Berlin. Three co-productions of Berlin-based exiled artists, an international production as well as films and lectures by Arab, African and Russian artists will be at its centre. In Lina Majdalanie’s and Rabih Mroué’s “Hartaqāt (Hérésies)“, the Lebanese authors Rana Issa, Souhaib Ayoub and Bilal Khbeiz tell three stories about the life in Lebanon that they abandoned. In a performative walk, Ada Mukhína compares the cultural heritage of the White émigré in Western European metropoles with the local artistic influences of Russian exiles during Putin’s third presidency, and in particular the emigration since the beginning of war and mobilisation. Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese is a film maker from Lesotho and has been living in Berlin for ten years. His film “This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection” has been an international success. Starting from a reading of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, he will explore other techniques of appropriating the world and create a performative project for the first time, which will communicate chiefly through images.

The work "Blind Runner" by the Iranian director Amir Reza Koohestani reflects the current situation in Iran as a continuous run against everything. A couple trains for a marathon with the common plan to get through the Channel Tunnel to reach England from France. Even after the training was interrupted by the woman’s arrest one week before the planned departure, the couple do not stop running, but continue it on both sides of the prison walls.

Marlene Monteiro Freitas will present her choreography “idiota”, analysing the theme of Pandora’s Box and addressing questions of death and evil. Her inspiration comes from the works of the Cape Verdean painter Alex Silva (1974–2019) and the mythological character of Pandora. “idiota” is situated within an exhibition context, a performance inside a showcase, inside Pandora’s Box.

In the latest and final part of her trilogy on violence, Brazilian theatre maker Christiane Jatahy will address the entanglement of racism and capitalism. There seems to have been little change from the times of the transatlantic slave trade to the current policies of the likes of Jair Bolsonaro: There are those who own land, liberty and identity – and those whose existence has no worth.

In addition, there will be two concerts by the Ukrainian artists Marianna Sadovska and Serhij Zhadan, winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. In addition, Senthuran Varatharajah and Fabian Saul as well as Natasha Ginwala and Magnus E. Rosengarten are conceiving two discourse series with lectures and performances. Ashkal Alwan from Beirut will host its summer school within the framework of the festival in Berlin. The "School for Dissident Friendship" will network local and Lebanese artists in workshops.

– Matthias Lilienthal

Curated by
Matthias Lilienthal advised by Rabih Mroué

With works by
Lina Majdalanie, Rabih Mroué, Rana Issa, Souhaib Ayoub, Bilal Khbeiz, Ada Mukhína, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Marlene Monteiro Freitas, Christiane Jatahy and many others

An event of Berliner Festspiele in cooperation with Heimathafen Neukölln, Ashkal Alwan and Akademie der Künste.

Currently on presale

Music from Ukraine: Tickets for two concerts of the festival in June already on sale. Full programme from 5 may 2023.
The full programme will be announced on 5 May 2023.

Thursday, 15 June 2023

Sunday, 18 June 2023

Past Events

Monday, 20 March 2023


Artistic Director Matthias Lilienthal
Curatorial Advice Rabih Mroué
Assistant to the Director Sophie Blomen
Trainee Programme Abdalrahman Alqalaq

Production Claudia Peters, Philipp Krüger and Lea Wolf

Communications and Press Karoline Zinßer

Translation (Open Call: English > German) Elena Krüskemper

Festival Assistant (2022) Hannah Baumann

Partners & Funders

Logo Kulturstiftung des Bundes     Logo Lotto-Stiftung Berlin     Logo Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung