“Where will we go after the last frontier?
Where will the birds fly after the last sky?”
- Mahmoud Darwish, 2003
The festival „After the Last Sky“ is the 1st interdisciplinary and international event in Germany assembling artists, activists and academics dealing with the im-/possibility of being Palestinian. Over one month the festival provides the possibility to encounter a rich variety of Palestinian narratives and the artistic reveberations of actors, dancers, film makers, visual artists, musicians, performance artists, writers and spoken word artists.
Berlin is a crucial place for an encounter of this kind, since the Palestinian population in Germany is the biggest in entire Europe, which is yet still primarily invisible in its political and social representation. The program that shapes the goal and vision of „After the Last Sky“ thus also arose out of an urgent necessity to create a space of visibility for contemporary Palestinian artists and topics, who now have the possibility to be represented and speak in their own right. We invite you therefore to participate in this contemporary Palestinian art event, which offers the possibility to re-/construct the past, re-/think the present and re-/imagine possible futures. Moreover, “After the last Sky” is not only the 1st festival of its kind, but it also facilitates a meeting-point for artists, activists, academics who would otherwise not be able to meet. Having said this, the festival explores Palestinian experiences and narratives in order to stress the non-Palestinianness inherent in them and thus ask:
What can we understand about our universal human condition through the example of Palestine and Palestinian narratives?
Throughout the 20th century, Palestine and Palestinians have been endlessly discussed, though narrowly and at times with different signifiers, in the contemporary “West”. Today, in light of an ever increasing anti-Muslim racism in Europe writ-large, as well as in Germany, the figure of the Palestinian became a vessel for several racist fantasies about the Other: the stateless sponger, the criminal foreigner, the potential terrorist, the sexist Arab, the homophobic hyper-masculine Oriental, the eternal Anti-Semite. Although our critique starts from that racist and identitarian premise of Othering in time and space, the experience is not exclusive to Palestinians: Indeed, we believe, that this racist image potentially includes everybody who is mis-/recognized as „Arab“, „Muslim“, or even every other subject that is in solidarity with Palestinians due to similar experiences.
Unparalleled in Germany, the festival “After the Last Sky” is an act of creative resistance and a necessary artistic counter measure to the state methods of dispossession and territorial control, expulsion and dispersion, settler-/colonialism, refugeedom and war, incarceration and torture, as well as, the erasure of archives and history, of which Palestinian experiences are some amongst many others in the so-called “Post-Colonial World”.
It is no coincidence, that it is the theater “Ballhaus Naunynstraße” that has invited this festival to take place: with its commitment to self-representation, it is already known to be a laboratory for creative, demanding and at times challenging events and discourses. This time again the theater space welcomes all of you to meet Palestinian voices and styles, re-/presenting and calling for new, but complex, forms of self-determination and emancipation in dialogue with other histories and experiences of colonialism, refugeedom and dispossession. Thus, we are all looking forward to a month-long fruitful engagement between the audience and artists in a vivid personal and creative exchange.
In that vein, we invited artists to be in a creative dialogue with four main themes: The Void; Aliens, Zombies and Ghosts; Exorcism; Iqra´ and therefore to take part, to co-create and co-develop it´s content. „After the last sky“ nourishes new reflections on Palestine and Palestinians, breaks the current logic of dichotomies and works towards emancipation.
Co-curated by Anna-Esther Younes and Pary El-Qalqili
Exhibition Curator: Nadia Kabalan
Funded by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds of the City of Berlin