Call for applications

School for Dissident Friendship

Berliner Festspiele, Berlin, Germany
Deadline: 01 March 2023

Haus der Berliner Festspiele
@ Berliner Festspiele / Adam Janisch

Haus der Berliner Festspiele @ Berliner Festspiele / Adam Janisch

The School for Dissident Friendship is an intensive three-week study programme in Berlin that takes place within the context of the multidisciplinary festival Performing Exiles. Eighteen artists and cultural workers will have the opportunity to participate in workshops, seminars, mentoring sessions and visits to cultural institutions to develop their artistic practice in an interdisciplinary exchange.

About the School for Dissident Friendship
School for Dissident Friendship engages dissident friendship, first defined by academic scholar Leela Gandhi in her book Affective Communities (2005) as all those affective gestures that refuse alignment, as a point of departure to consider artistic practices which seek to question and challenge existing structures of power through the mobilization of solidarity across differences. Positing the often-idealized notion of friendship as a metaphor for dissident cross-cultural collaboration, Gandhi, by way of French philosopher Jacques Derrida in The Politics of Friendship (1994), invites us to probe past and present experiments in anti-colonial resistance and the commoning of land and memory through an affective lens.

Working through friendship, collaboration, and collective authoring, and starting from Berlin’s histories of diasporic struggles for self-determination, School for Dissident Friendship will reflect on how global artistic practices can articulate political entanglements and interdependencies across geographies and temporalities.

As it grapples with an unprecedented wave of migration in Lebanon and the broader Arabic-speaking region, within an environment shaped through economic dispossession and cultural isolation, Ashkal Alwan was invited by the Berliner Festspiele to co-imagine the School for Dissident Friendship.

Established in 1993 in Beirut, Ashkal Alwan is a non-profit organization, which aims to support contemporary artistic practice, rethink arts education, foster critical thinking around current social developments, and engage in community mobilization. The organization was originally conceived by a collective of artists, writers, and activists, as a place where art could be figured as a vessel for civic dialogue. Its educational programme, the Home Workspace Program, now entering its 13th edition, remains pivotal in providing alternative modes of artistic study.

Apply now!
School for Dissident Friendship provides participants with workshops and seminars; individual and collective mentoring sessions; and visits to cultural institutions in Berlin. A public presentation of the participants’ ongoing work and research, hosted at the Berliner Festspiele will conclude the programme.

18 participants will be selected to partake in the programme. They will benefit from conversations with tutors and presenters working across disciplines and contexts. School for Dissident Friendship welcomes cross-disciplinary, early-career artists working in diverse media—digital, moving image, painting and printmaking, performance, photography, sculpture, sound, and text—and engaged in archival research, knowledge production, placemaking, and/or social engagement. Confirmed tutors will include Marwa Arsanios, Sinthujan Varatharajah and others to be announced at a later stage.

12 Berlin-based artists and cultural workers will be selected through an open call by a Berliner Festspiele-appointed jury. 6 artists and cultural workers based in Lebanon and the broader Arabic-speaking region will be selected by the Ashkal Alwan team.

The jury in Berlin will select participants based on the merit of their previous work and future projects, as well as on the relevance of their work to the themes explored as part of the School for Dissident Friendship.

For your application, please send all required documents together with your personal data via the online tool.

Application Details at a Glance
1. Dates

Deadline for applications: 1 March 2023
Jury decision: presumably from mid-March 2023
Notification of participants from 1 April 2023

The Summer School will take place from 5 to 25 June.

2. Conditions of Participation

All early-career artists and cultural workers currently living in Berlin are eligible to apply, regardless of age and nationality. Applicants should be able to commit to the programme’s intensive three-week schedule. The programme will be carried out primarily in English.

Applications can be submitted until 1 March 2023.

3. Necessary Documents

Please file your personal data in the online tool and upload the necessary documents there

  • Two-page CV
  • Portfolio of previous works
  • Motivation letter (300-500 words in English or German)


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