The inimitable Mediterranean cultural sphere –with its long history and its present marked by opposites– stands in the center of the discussions and readings of this new event series. Since the beginning of recorded history, the coasts of the Mediterranean have been forever and inextricably bound together. Cultural exchange followed trade routes, and stimulated a region of similar climate, geography, and ways of life. The most important civilizations to shape the historical inheritance of the Occident, the Islamic-Arabic cultural area, and the byzantine-influenced east of Europe shared much more with each other than present-day political conflict and economic inequalities would lead one to believe. Authors of differing generations and from around the Mediterranean are invited to come together in discussion under the title “The White Sea”, and to reflect together on that which binds and which divides their shared transnational inheritance.
With: Robert Menasse, Camille de Toledo, Stanislaw Strasburger, Pinar Selek, Khaled Al Khamissi, François Beaune, Melinda Nadj Abonji, Maïssa Bey
The Welcome Speech of Prof. Dr. Christina Weiss
Dear authors, dear ladies and gentlemen!
As Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Member of the Board of Allianz Kulturstiftung, I cordially welcome you to this panel discussion about "La Mediterranée, carrefour ou frontière"!
This is the central debate within the framework of the events with the title "The White Sea". Since 2012, we - the Allianz Kulturstiftung and the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin - have been planning and implementing a mobile literary festival around the Mediterranean, which in the Arabic languages is called "the white sea"). We have already had stations in Trieste, Tirana, Alexandria and Thessaloniki. Every second meeting of authors from the Mediterranean countries takes place in Berlin.
I welcome Michael Thoss, the board of the AKS, his colleague Katrin Thomanek and Dr. Thomas Geiger from the LCB. I am pleased that our project here in Marseille could have been integrated into the new literary festival "Oh les beaux jours ..." thematically devoted to the "Littérature migrante". I would like to thank the festival directors, Fabienne Pavia and Nadja Champèsne, for the invitation to their festival and the excellent cooperation.
Mathias Énard, who is also a member of the AKS Board of Trustees, has been awarded with the Prix Goncourt in 2015 as well as the „Leipzig Book Fair Award for European Understanding" in 2017 for his latest novel "Kompass". This book vividly features the major theme of "The White Sea" event series. It demonstrates the impact of the Orient upon literature and music in Europe throughout its history, depictingt the history of the Mediterranean region as part of our common history, showing how incomprehensible the reflex of the large part of Europe is, to isolate itself from the others and to proclaim, as he puts it, the so-called "chimerical purity".
Énard speaks against the strict separation of cultures, since this idea denies our shared mixed cultural history.
He proclaims the principle of hope versus hatred and destructive violence. In his speech at the Award of the "Leipzig Book Fair Prize", he said:
"A perhaps modest hope is knowledge, the eroticism of knowledge in the sense of the poetics of knowledge, the hope that the desire for knowledge will spread more and more, and that this desire will be shared with the others. Curiosity is the motor of the world. Curiosity, knowledge, the arts and literature are those things we share with each other.We have no fixed identities, we are just strollers on this planet.
And when nothing is fixed, when everything is in flux, we also keep continually changing ourselves. We get changed through encounter with each other, meeting with the other, whom we also change in the fruitful aporia".
Those writers, who found themselves in a new country, those who live in a foreign city do change through their text the perception of the natives. There can be a fruitful debate between the self-perception and the external view: how do we perceive ourselves and how are we viewed and assessed by the others.
The reflection of one's own vision requires the confrontation with another view.
Only in communicating with each other, only in exchange, can we change our self-image, only in conversation do we get in touch with foreign perspectives, and only through the perception of foreign views will we be able to relativize or even change the view upon our own reality. The reality reveals itself as a multi-perspectival interpretation of the polysemantic reality.
Every country needs enrichment through foreignness and, to quote a well-known in France formulation of Holderlin, "l 'épreuve de l'étranger". A culture can only evolve in constant contact to the foreign one.
By nothing can we get to know each other better than by reading foreign stories. While reading we allow ourselves to think differently and are involuntarily challenged to compare and question our own thinking.
Marseille, which in the 1940s used to be one of the major destinations for the refugees from around the world and the last hope for escape from Europe for many of the persecuted– as it is wonderfully described in Anna Segher's novel "Transit" – is still an attractive place for many migrants and, being open to the Mediterranean Sea, is predestined to be the optimal location for our writers' debates as part of the "The White Sea" event series.
Europe, which spirit is characterized by the acceptance of cultural diversity and uncensored public expression, needs the ongoing debate on how to deal with the diversity and strangeness in order to be able to shape the common European future, sympathizing with each other.
Europe must remain a space for opportunities, in which new visions of a European community can be conceived and translated into life.
We would like to thank the authors for giving us more information on this mutual learning process tonight and I wish you inspiring discussions. Thank you very much!
(Prof. Dr. Christina Weiss)
In France, the Mediterranean Sea is used to be called "the Great Blue", whereas in Turkey and some regions of the Arab world it is referred to as the “White Sea”. The White Sea is also the name of the current program, which is promoted by the Allianz Kulturstiftung and the Literary Colloquium Berlin. Every year one city is selected in order to bring together authors from the German-speaking and the Mediterranean regions. From Damascus , Istanbul, Cairo, Vienna and Berlin… now making a stop at the Villa Méditerranée in Marseilles in order to explore the possibilities of multiculturalism in history and literature.
Readings and discussion with : Robert Menasse, Camille de Toledo, Stanislaw Strasburger, Pinar Selek, Khaled Al Khamissi, François Beaune, Melinda Nadj Abonji, Maïssa Bey
With: Philippe Pujol, Thierry Fabre, Christian Garcin, Katerina Poladjan, Stanislaw Strasburger und Jaroslav Rudiš
The Mediterranean is not only the region of eternal European dream, but also the cradle of Europe, as we know it today. Being both a vacation paradise and the prominent trading area, the Mediterranean Sea (in the Arabic language called the White Sea) joins the three continents and closely links the history of three monotheistic religions. During the last few years the migrant flows from the crises areas of the Near and Middle East have turned this paradise into a place of horror.
Migration is as old as mankind… On the 8th of February, we are going to organize an event, dedicated to Marseille and Berlin as transit and border spaces. Marseille is known to be the port of destination for the North Africans, coming from the former French colonies to the EU, whereas Berlin has, especially after the year of 1989, become the “Gateway to the West” for migrants from the Central and Eastern Europe. Economically, socio-culturally and literarily these cities do open their gates to the outside. Being an interface between East and West, Berlin often plays the role of a "transit station". The Mediterranean port of Marseille, European Capital of Culture 2013, is known as the "Gateway to Africa" and has become a crossroad for Algerian, Moroccan and other African transit refugees. The urban landscapes feature the dynamically changing areas of overlapping cultures and identities. We want to examine the extent, to which a nearby area with a different cultural background can affect and shape the city and its life.
Wednesday, February 8th of 2017:
Greeting by Christina Weiss
(The former Federal Minister of Cultural Affairs)
Panel I with Katerina Poladjan, Jaroslav Rudiš and Stanisław Strasburger
Moderation: Jörg Magenau
Panel II with Philippe Pujol, Thierry Fabre and Christian Garcin
Moderation: Leyla Dakhli
After the discussion, we invite all the guests to the mediterranean buffet at LCB.
With: Rasha Abbas (Syria), Amanda Michalopoulou (Greece), Vladimir Arsenijević (Serbia), Zsófia Bán (Hungary), Aleš Šteger (Slowenia), Ingo Schulze (Germany) and Assaf Alassaf (Syria)
facilitated by Anne-Dore Krohn (RBB), Dieter Heß (Bayrischer Rundfunk)
During the year 2015 hundred thousands of refugees came to Germany by using the route through the Western Balkans states. Many of them are Syrians who had to leave their home country because of the devastating conditions there. Refugees who used the West-Balkan route often started in Turkey, then crossed the Mediterranean Sea to reach Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, then fled further to Croatia and Slovenia to finally reach Austria and Germany. This movement of refugees caused the implementation of fences to “protect” the country boarders. This stands in a strong contrast to an “open-minded” Europe. It seems as if the fences that are supposed to protect the geographical boarders of Europe also existed in the European interior.
Wednesday, February 10th of 2016
With: Thanassis Valtinos (Greece), Nikol Ljubic (Germany), Vassilis Amanatidis (Greece), Yiannis Skaragas (Greece), Phoebe Giannisi (Greece), Matthias Énard (France), Sherko Fatah (Germany), Najet Adouani (Tunesia), Aris Fioretos (Sweden), Christos Chrisopoulos (Greece)
facilitated by Vassilis Terzopoulos (Greece), Georgos Kordomenidis (Greece), Ulrich Ladurner (Greece)
An event by the city of Salonika and the literary magazine Entevktirio/ Georgos Kordomenidis in cooperation with the Allianz Cultural Foundation, the Literary Colloquium Berlin and the Goethe Institute Thessaloniki.
The coasts of the Mediterranean region encompass a plethora of cultural diversity which has been coined by centuries of intensive trading and cultural exchange. Salonika in particular looks back at a long history of multi-ethnic coexistence. Over centuries, the urban structure of the city has been shaped by the presence of immigrants and their interaction with the local community. Gradually, the "foreign" became an organic element of the host society, and Salonika acquired a high international reputation as a cosmopolitan metropolis.
However, over the past hundred years, wars and ethnic cleansing have destabilized the basis of this peaceful coexistence and transformed what once was a mare nostrum into a site marked by deadly borderlines. How can Salonika develop a vision for the future from its multicultural heritage and, along with other urban centers of the region, overcome boundaries and face the major challenges of the 21st century? How can immigrants nowadays contribute to a new cultural and economic blossoming of the region and of Europe?
We as citizens play an active role in providing answers to these questions. During the three-day literary event "The White Sea", the municipality of Salonika opens its gates to the public for a lively program of readings, discussions, music and film from artists and authors from both Greece and its neighboring countries, inviting to look at, redefine and re-invent cultural diversity in today’s context.
Wednesday, June 3
Project Sea Change is about documenting the lives of young Europeans, to show how they are affected by the current uncertainties. Some of the best documentary photographers in Europe will create a unique tapestry of stories to present a vibrant, thought-provoking and novel perspective on Europe’s current challenges.
It will document both the problems and the possibilities that the challenges have created. The strategies that young Europeans adopt to cope with the new situation, how this impacts their daily lives, and their dreams and ambitions for the future.
Many issues are common to all or most European countries, for instance migration, political extremism, the role of European Islam, and unemployment, to name but a few.
Project Sea Change collaborates with the VII photo agency, and has received generous funding from Norwegian government sources, private foundations and media companies.
With: Rasha Abbas (Syria), Mathias Énard (France), Nihad Sirees (Syria), Amer Mater (Syria), Rosa Yassin Hassan(Syria)
After being hosted in Trieste, Tirana, and Alexandria, we took the international event series “The White Sea” back to Berlin-Wannsee for a day, and invited authors and filmmakers to discuss the theme “Syria in Exile”. How do Syrian writers incorporate the dramatic situation in their homeland into their work? How free can an author truly be in exile, when the immeasurable suffering in ones’ homeland suffocates every emotion, seizes every memory and will not let go, and leaves one stuck in a “life divided” (Amer Mater)? We heard not only of the horrors of war, but of an unprecedented and –in this country– unacknowledged artistic breakout in and around Syria, that is seeking to sound out new areas of freedom and to show forms of resistance beyond the sites of war. The event could be followed live on Facebook and Twitter (#syrwhitesea), as well as on the website www.dasweissemeer.eu.
Begin: 7:00 pm
Welcome: Florian Höllerer, head of the Berlin Literary Colloquium
Greeting: Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Federal Foreign Minister), read by Beate Grzeski, Representative from the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication
Christina Weiss, former State Minister for Culture, and Advisory Board member of the Allianz Cultural Foundation
And Josef Halsinger, Author and President of the PEN-Zentrum Germany
Panel discussion: Rasha Abbas, Mathias Énard, Amer Mater, Nihad Sirees, and Rosa Yassin, moderated by Larissa Bender
Documentary film: “Return to Homs” and discussion with director Talal Derki
With: Sahar Elmougy (Egypt), Fatma Kandil (Egypt), Alaa Khaled (Egypt), Khaled Al Khamissi (Egypt), Ahmad Abou Khnegar (Egypt), Ivana Sakko (Croatia), Joachim Sartorius (Germany), Julia Schoch (Germany)
After appearances in Trieste (2012) and Tirana (2013), our literary event series took place in Alexandria. Under the working title “Identities in Motion”, eight international authors met a young audience of writers in workshops. The focus of the event and its discussions was the multiple cultural identities that have developed around the Mediterranean, and which characterize the mutual perception of Arabs and Europeans today. The conference could be followed live on Facebook and Twitter, as well as on dasweissemeer.eu
9.00 am (CET) Welcome: Sahar Hamouda (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) & Christina Weiss (Minister of Culture, ret.)
10.00 am – 5.00 pm (CET)
Workshops: Identity or Identities? – How can being part of several global peer groups overpower our local identity?
Mythes and literature in the Mediterranean region– The common heritage of Mediterranean cultures despite the different Identities and cultures.
How conscious is the shape of identities connected to the process of writing literature?
The relation between visual arts and Identity.
5.00 pm – 8.00 pm (CET)
Welcome: Khlaled Al-Khamissi Panel Discussion between the authors and the Organisators
8.00 pm (CET) Public presentation and dicussion
Under the title ‘Europe: a space of remembrance’ we have invited eight authors of different generations from Albania, Egypt, Germany and Switzerland to enter into literary dialogue on October 4 and 5, 2013 with the aim of discussing that which connects and that which divides in their shared Mediterranean heritage.
For many Albanians, and for a long time, the Mediterranean meant a connection to Europe and the promise of freedom. Especially during the 40-year dictatorship of Enver Hoxhas, the coasts of western Europe were a place of escape and longing. In the present-day, “the White Sea” is at once the link –as well as the intensely supervised border– between Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
After stops in Berlin and Trieste, the travels of “The White Sea” literary festival bring it to Tirana. Here, authors considered the question of what collective memory the Mediterranean world –with its long history of shared cultural traditions as well as its present marked by opposites– has developed. In addition, strategies of remembrance were discussed, which help allow totalitarian experiences to be literarily rehabilitated.
* A project of the Allianz Kulturstiftung with the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin and the Ministry of Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Young People and Sport in Albania.
With: Lindita Arapi (Albania/ Germany), Khaled Al-Khamissi (Egypt), Arian Leka (Albania), Luljeta Lleshanaku (Albania), Fatos Lubonja (Albania), Ilma Rakusa (Switzerland), Hans-Ulrich Treichel (Germany), Agron Tufa (Albania)
Moderators: Dhurata Shehri, Mimoza Hysa, Parid Teferiçi
We invited six internationally-renown Authors to our third Mediterranean conference from May 10th to the 11th, 2013 in the LCB. For two days, the poets, novelists, and publicists were occupied with the question of what role the inheritance of antique Mediterranean cultures plays in our present-day. The Mediterranean is the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and the birth-place of rational philosophy and secularism; but is also an inexhaustible treasury of mythical and literary images whose symbolic power remains unbroken even today. This time, we brought Italian-Croatian, German, and Albanian authors to the LCB.
We began on Friday evening with a podium-discussion in the Berlin Literary Colloquium with all of our authors. The Keynote on the theme “The Academy of the Sea” was given by Durs Grünbein.
On Saturday, we invited the public along with the authors to brunch at the Berlin Literary Colloquium in Wannsee. Afterwards, moderated reading began that would continue into the evening. The day was rounded out by a presentation and discussion of the prize-winning film “The Albanian”. We were pleased to greet director Johannes Naber in the LCB.
On the 23rd and 24th of November in Trieste, eleven authors of different generations from Slovenia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany – Mauro Covacich, Viet Heinichen, Stanka Hrastelj, Drago Jančar, Kenka Lekovich, Davide Longo, Cees Nooteboom, Boris Pahor, Ilma Rakusa, Joachim Sartorius, and Aleš Šteger – came together in the Teatro Miela and in the Museo Revoltella to hold readings and discussions in front of the public. Under the title “Between the Mediterranean Sea and Central-Europe: The Two Souls of Mediterranean Literature”, we occupied ourselves with the question of what role the sea plays in the literature of Italy and Slovenia.
The Kick-off Event for the literary event series “The White Sea” took place on July 7th 2012 in the Berlin Literary Colloquium. It concerned the theme “The Shared Inheritance of Antique Mediterranean Cultures”. Six prominent authors from the Mediterranean and Germany gathered together to reflect upon the theme, and to address its challenging questions. What roles in uniting or dividing does the Mediterranean cultural inheritance play in the world today? What great myths and stories have shaped these cultures through to the present-day?
The event series was continued in November 2012 in Trieste, Italy.
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