With current migration movements and, above all, the intensive political and economic interlacements with global developments, art and culture are facing a massive challenge as free spaces of social and cultural transformation. While on the one hand, there is an urgent need for institutional reform, on the other artists, above all, are calling not only for an open process of critically engaging with these issues, of emancipation, and of empathy, but also for actively shaping a society of cultural diversity.
With art historian Horst Bredekamp, we discuss the need and potential for transforming cultural institutions in Germany and Europe. The Rubato dance company, choreographer Arkadi Zaides and the rapper Mohammed Abu-Hajar are prominent examples of artists taking a stance strongly critical of the political sphere.
In 2015, Rubato staged a production also entitled Uncertain States. The choreography addresses and explores how confronting uncertain social and political situations can be translated into personal physical experience and movement. The body becomes a store of cultural memories and movement an expression of existential situations in life.
Mohammad Abu-Hajar is a musician and singer from the Syrian harbour town of Tartus. Culturally rooted in the music of the Sufis, his rap lyrics attack the cynicism of the international constellations of power. As an activist in the political movement against the dictatorship in Syria, he was forced to leave his country. He has reached a wider audience through a video produced by Halil Altindere for the 2016 Berlin Biennale.
In his choreographies, Israeli dancer Arkadi Zaides systematically engages with and explores political and social conflicts. The choreographies are usually based on artistic and scholarly research, as in Archives, which integrates footage shot by Palestinian youths at the border fences to Israel. In this performance, Arkadi Zaides embodies the movements and gestures of the Israeli soldiers as well as the youths.