New Neighbourhoods. Artistic Agency in Relation to Migration

Against the background of refugee flows worldwide and the integration of new citizens, the symposium focuses on the possibilities and the potential of artistic activity. Contemporary artists and scholars will report on their experiences in between art, research and everyday life in talks, project presentations and readings. The symposium will present artistic initiatives and invite discussion on concepts articulating the social possibilities as well as the positive interaction of art and migration.

Due to limited access your reservation via email ( or fax (+49 521 178810) is requested. The attendance is free.

Marina Naprushkina, Arrivals, 2015-2016, 100 Linoldrucke, Marina Naprushkina und Neue Nachbarschaft//Moabit, Fotodokumentation bei der Arbeit, Courtesy die Künstlerin, Foto: Marina Naprushkina

 Marina Naprushkina

»Neue Nachbarschaft//Moabit«
The »New Neighbourhood//Moabit« was founded in 2013. Today, it consists of over 400 active members. It is an educational project, a cultural centre for a neighbourhood drawn from all over the world. The initiative has a purely honorary structure based on self-organisation, does not receive any state funding and is thus independent in its political activity. In her talk, the artist, Marina Naprushkina, reports on the development of the initiative, its current projects and what role art has in them. She will also read from her book, »Neue Heimat?« [A New Home?], published by the »Europa Verlag« in 2015. The book surveys refugees’ everyday life in Berlin. Andreas Kilb described it in the FAZ as the »das Buch der Stunde« [book of the hour] showing what the culture of welcoming really looks like in Germany.

Marina Naprushkina, born in Minsk (Belarus), studied art in Minsk, Karlsruhe and at the Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main. In 2007, she founded »Das Büro für Antipropaganda« [The Office of Anti-Propaganda], with the intention of revealing the ways of working and the influence of modern political ideologies and of disrupting their strategies via artistic means. In 2013, Naprushkina founded the "Neue Nachbarschaft//Moabit" initiative, which has grown into one of the biggest refugee initiatives in Berlin. She received the Sussmann Award in 2015. Naprushkina’s works have been exhibited at the Kyiv Biennale (2015), the 7th Berlin Biennale (2012), the 5th Bucharest Biennale (2012), the 11th Istanbul Biennale (2009), as well as at Agitprop! Brooklyn Museum, New York (2016), Progress and Hygiene, Zachęta, the National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2014), Self#governing, KalmarKonstmuseum (2012), How much Fascism?, BAK, Utrecht (2012), and the New Frankfurt Internationals, MMK Frankfurt / Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/Main (2010), among other places.



8 pm

»Mazzaj« Rap Band (with Mohammad Abu Hajar)
Concert in cooperation with Nr.z.P.
Venue: Nr.z.P., Große-Kurfürsten-Straße 81, 33615 Bielefeld


12 am

Welcome note and introduction
Thomas Thiel (Director, Bielefelder Kunstverein)

Lecture and talk »Tales from the other face«
Mohammad Abu Hajar (Musician und activist, Berlin)
In english


1:30 pm

Lecture »Refugee Phrasebook«
Dr. Markus Neuschäfer (Specialist in German studies)
in german


3 pm

Lecture and reading »Neue Nachbarschaft//Moabit«
Marina Naprushkina (Artist, Berlin)
In german

4:30 pm

Short guided tour through the exhibition

5 pm


Mohammad Abu Hajar

Mohammad Abu Hajar

»Tales from the other face«
In Syria, Rap is a foreign art form, Abu Hajar says. He is at once a musician and the protagonist of Halil Altındere’s Video »Homeland«, an item in the exhibition, »Asylum«. His Mazzaj Rap Band was one of the politically most committed groups in a small but at one time very lively Syrian rap scene, now carrying on in Berlin exile. Abu Hajar fled Syria in 2012 after being arrested and tortured. The sound of the Mazzaj Rap Band combines western hip-hop with traditional Dabke music. In previous days, his texts criticised the high living costs and restricted freedom. Today, they are engaging with the experiences of forced migration, the crimes of the Assad regime and the reasons why the Syrian revolution failed.
In his talk on the Syrian rap scene and the activities of the Mazzaj Rap Band, Abu Hajar sketches out the possibilities of artistic action opposing a political system. In the subsequent conversation with Thomas Thiel (the director of the Bielefelder Kunstverein), his experiences in Germany will also come in for discussion, together with the necessity behind his double role as an artist and an activist.

Mohammad Abu Hajar, born in Syria in 1987, is a journalist, a musician and an activist. He initially began studying political economics in Syria and finished with an M.A. in Italy. Meanwhile, he has come to live in Berlin. On the basis of his refusal of military service and his rap texts, he was forced to leave his Syrian homeland. He continues his political engagement together with his band, Mazzaj, which formed in Tartus in Syria as far back as 2008. Recently, his latest project, »Third Culture«, has got underway.

Dr. Markus Neuschäfer


»Refugee Phrasebook«
Refugee Phrasebook is an open collaborative project to provide important vocabulary to refugees. It assembles important phrases from various fields and encourages designers and experts in the field to improve on the material. The Refugee Phrasebook is a multilingual tool that provides basic useful vocabulary related to the most common immediate needs. While the first collection of phrases was still limited to a closed document with a narrow use case, volunteers quickly migrated the data to an open table in Google Sheets and significantly increased the number of participants with their network. This step also emphasized a commitment to transparency and openness by publishing the data with a Creative Commons license (CC0), reuseable for refugee aid projects everywhere.
Dr. Markus Neuschäfer is part of the main team of Refugee Phrasebook, which acts and coordinates from Argentina, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands and Austria. In his lecture Neuschäfer will talk about the development  and discuss the potential of open and digital project.

Dr. Markus Neuschäfer holds a PhD German philology, worked at the University Göttingen and developed Open Science business models in publishing. He engages for open dates in science and culture; especially he is interested in the developement of visibility and free contents. He also supports the volunteer platform with webdesign and coordination.