Words in/of Exile: Syrian Cultural Practices in Berlin

Wednesday 19 April 2017, at 6 pm.
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin, Germany.

Talal Derki (Film Director) & Mohammad Attar (Playwright) & Rasha Abbas (Writer)
Chair: Khaled Saghieh (Beirut, EUME Fellow 2016/17)

– Abstract
The relationship between art and exile continues to preoccupy scholars and artists alike. In the last few years, Syrian artists have significantly contributed to the Berlin’s artistic scene and offered new ways to understand how art and exile nurture each other. What distinguishes exilic art production in Berlin? How do exilic artists contribute to the local art scene and how do they circulate within it? This panel invites the writer Rasha Abbas, the playwright Mohammad al-Attar, and the film director Talal Derki to critically reflect on what it means to be an artist in Berlin today.

– Talal Derki is born in Damascus and lives in Berlin with his wife and son. He studied filmmaking in Athens in 2003 and worked as an assistant director for feature film productions and as a director for different Arab TV programs between 2009 and 2011. He also worked as a freelance cameraman for CNN and Thomson & Reuters in 2011 and 2012. His feature documentary Return To Homs has won the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Grand Jury Prize. He has served as Jury member in different international film festivals. In 2015, he established his new production company Jouzour in Berlin. He is also a member of the Deutsche Journalistenverband Berlin-Brandenburg (DJV-BB).

– Mohammad Attar is a Syrian playwright. He received degrees in English literature from Damascus University and Drama Studies from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts, Damascus. From Goldsmith, London, he received a Masters degree in Applied Drama with special focus on the political and social role of theater. His plays including “Withdrawal”, “Samah” , “Online”, “Look at the street…this is what hope looks like”, “Could You Please Look into the Camera?”, “A Chance Encounter”, “Antigone of Shatila”, and “While I was waiting” have been performed internationally and in different languages.
He has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, with a special focus on the Syrian uprising. In addition to his plays set for stage, he continues to use theater in projects focusing on marginalized groups.

– Rasha Abbas is a Syrian short story writer. She is born in 1984 and based in Berlin since 2014. She published her first short story collection, Adam Hates Television, as part of ‘Damascus the capital
of Arab culture 2008’ events. Since then, she has contributed to several publications and platforms such as PEN Atlas, Words Without Borders, The common, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Alquds Alarabi, Alarabi Aljadeed with short stories and columns. In 2014, she received the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Fellowship, supported by Solitude Schloss Akademie, in Stuttgart, Germany, where she worked on her short story collection, entitled The Gist of It, which will be published by Almutwasset publishing (Milan) in 2017. In 2016, she published the humorous short story collection The invention of German Grammar (Die Erfindung Der Deutschen Grammatik). Later that year, she published a one-story E-book: Ein einsames rotes Coca-Cola-Glas (one lonely coca – cola glass) with Mikrotext Publishing.

Symposium, Wednesday 19 April 2017
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