In 2021, Academy in Exile announced an artist-in-residence program funded by Allianz Kulturstiftung. The three residencies of three months each were designed for a filmmaker/videographer, sound artist, and visual artist. The artists were affiliated with Academy in Exile’s Critical Thinking Program at Freie Universität Berlin and worked in dialogue with its fellows. In April 2022, the selection of artists from the Philippines, Turkey, and Iraq marked the inauguration of the program. (Go here for the full press release)
Out of a hundred applications from 38 countries, the International Jury selected the proposals of these three artists: Liryc Dela Cruz (film), Diren Demir (sound) and Kani Kamil (visual arts). “Choosing from an exceptional range of projects”, says Claudia Tazreiter, jury member and professor at the University of Linköping, Sweden, “was no easy task”.
Esra Kücük, managing director of Allianz Kulturstiftung: “In times of war and repression, Academy in Exile’s commitment to strengthening open societies and freedom of expression is more important than ever.With the selection of these three exceptional artists, the Academy continues its mission by bringing the arts and sciences into a conversation.” Between late May and early July, the artists will each take up three-month residencies and work on their projects for the 2022 theme: Fixing What’s Broken.
War, environmental degradation, poverty, and authoritarianism are driving ever more people from their homes, with refugee flows growing exponentially in recent times. Recognizing that authoritarianism and forced displacement are no longer just local, temporary perturbations, Fixing What’s Broken called for approaches that thought about novel, constructive forms of addressing and interpreting forced displacement and its causes.
Vanessa Agnew, Director of Academy in Exile’s Critical Thinking Program, says the program “will allow artists to share their singular visions and inspire new ways of thinking”.
Liryc Dela Cruz (1992) is an artist and filmmaker from the Philippines, currently based in Rome, Italy. A representative of the slow cinema movement, his work has been screened in several international film festivals and he was invited to Berlinale Talents for the 70th Berlin International Film Festival in 2020. His films and projects are thematically related to his own origins, history, and psychology. They also deal with decolonial practices and the experiences of Filipino migrant communities. His captivating proposal entitled “To Feel You Again”, says jury member Çağan Duran, University of Duisburg-Essen, “deals with migrant bodies, an important but under-addressed issue”. Liryc Dela Cruz explains that “the world tends to assume that food, shelter, and opportunities are the only important things for people searching for protection and refuge, especially when they arrive in their so-called ‘host countries’ in the West. […] We forget that these people also have desires to feel their senses and body again, to feel the warmth of other souls and lovers.”
Diren Demir (*1997) is an interdisciplinary artist and independent curator from Istanbul, Turkey. Demir’s work, articles, and research address toxic masculinity, LGBTIQ+ history, body politics and (de-)gendered memories of place and city. Their proposal “Story of an Envelope. Participatory Sound Installation”, according to Andrea Bohlman, jury member and musicology professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “stood out because of its poetic simplicity, as they draw gentle attention to a key piece of infrastructure in open society: the ballot box.” The installation makes the ballot box transparent and accessible to the audience, the content of the envelopes become whole life stories to be heard and shared. Demir addresses how the basic democratic procedure of putting one’s vote in an envelope and the ballot box risks being rendered dysfunctional by authoritarian regimes. During the exhibition period of the project, the ballot box is presented as an interactive space open for the audience to add their own life stories.
Kani Kamil is an Iraqi Kurdish artist and scholar working with photography, installation, and needlework, as well as video and sound. Her work, reflecting on the socio-political circumstances of Kurdish women in Iraq, has been shown in several international art shows and film festivals in the UK, Iceland, Poland, and the US, and was invited to the Kurdish Film Festival in Berlin in October 2021. The subject of her project “Hanar” will be Runak, a Kurdish feminist who documented women’s everyday lives in Southern Kurdistan in the 1990s. Kamil’s “powerful proposal focusing on hidden and forgotten histories, experiences and voices”, says Claudia Tazreiter, was most convincing to the jury. Kamil shows Runak and her work as a heretofore “invisible archivist” having assembled an “invisible archive”. With the male view regarded as the only authentic witness to any sociopolitical cause or event in Southern Kurdistan – and elsewhere – a female view has been relegated to female issues alone. Kamil’s project not only represents marginalized Kurdish women but also challenges the patriarchal structures of archival practices. The project therefore fights against the perpetuation of Kurdish women’s invisibility – past and present.
The Call for Applications 2021 / 2022
The Call for Applications of November 2021 invited applicants to submit proposals for the 2022 theme Fixing What’s Broken.
Applicants were invited to suggest artistic solutions to the interconnected problems posed by forced migration, conflict, authoritarianism, and knowledge at risk. Authoritarianism and exile are no longer just local, temporary perturbations. Climate change, environmental degradation, conflict, and authoritarianism are driving ever more people from their homes. Increasingly, this confluence seems to constitute the new normal in the global system. What novel approaches might be found for representing and interpreting exodus in its myriad forms? How can initiatives involving cooperation between diverse stakeholders contribute more imaginatively and sustainably to the future wellbeing of all of us?
Eligible were cultural producers who advocate on behalf of human rights, democracy, and the pursuit of free expression and/or who have been displaced because of their professional work. Applications were assessed by members of the Academy in Exile Team and an international jury, and evaluated according to artistic merit, risk assessment, civil society advocacy, and willingness to engage with the fellows and program offerings of Academy in Exile.
Prof. Vanessa Agnew (AiE/ Cultural Studies, Technische Universität Dortmund/ The Australian National University )
Khaled Barakeh (Artist, Berlin)
Assoc. Prof. Andrea F. Bohlman (Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Çağan Duran (AiE/ Turkish Studies, Universität Duisburg-Essen)
Ali Hasan (Musician, Berlin)
Prof. Paweł Leszkowicz (Art History, Adam Mickiewicz University)
Çiğdem Mater (Filmmaker, Hamburg/Istanbul)
Prof. Claudia Tazreiter (Migration, Ethnicity, and Society, Linköping University)