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Preparing Why Are We Here Now. Photo: Joachim Dette.
Articles, Reviews, Volume 7

Why are we here now? Mohammed al Attar’s work Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence

Why are we here now? Mohammed al Attar's work 
Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence
By Christel Weiler
Arab Stages, Volume 7 (Fall, 2017)
©2017 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

For a period of three weekends in the fall of 2017 the Berlin Haus der Kulturen der Welt offered its audience the chance to explore a variety of performances, lectures and films created and produced by artists who are actually based in Berlin, and who, originally, come from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. What unites them is that they all have escaped these conflict zones and now live in a kind of exile in Berlin, using their art to ask questions, which we all have to deal with, as for example: Why are we here now? It is because not only that here in Berlin they find protected spaces and some modest support for their art, but also that they have something to communicate, which seems to be of utmost importance in view of a world that is constantly breaking down. And of course, these artists do that in various ways and with various formats.

The question above also finds a variety of answers – individually and collectively – not only among the artists who are involved in the HKW project and, whose performances, lectures and works deal with the consequences of colonialism, ways to travel, and concepts of time among others. “Why are we here now?” also has to be responded to by every single member of the audience, who is making their decision to be part of the series of events, among which was Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence, a work by Mohammad al Attar, in collaboration with director Omar Abusaada and stage designer Bissane al Charif.

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