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Music in Exile© Bana Haffar

Various artists from Berlin: Music in Exile

Music is something we have been doing since we were nomadic at the dawn of time. Something to unite people beyond language and status, something we keep on doing at home, away from home, on the road however perilous it may be, in our head and heart, with our body, alone and also to get closer to each other, to find our place and hopefully to belong there.
By Nadia Says

Each artist in this group ponders the question of searching for and finding a home. For The Finches, it is about learning how to belong in a place where many people reject their sound and attitude, for the others it is about finding their footing in foreign lands. Wizzy escaped danger and found shelter with a song by his side, while Bana Haffar travels with modular sounds and field recordings to strengthen her roots on the road, Mentrix and Rasha Nahas use music, movement, and visuals to keep connected to their homeland and showcase it to the world, and Zazuka and WYWY, settled in their new home, compose nesting melodies that may bring comfort to those who need it as well. 

As the curator for this exhibition section, as well as for live events mostly in Berlin and Los Angeles, my work on the one hand involves showcasing all the diversity the music scene has to offer, while on the other bringing as many different people under one roof as possible to enjoy the show all together. Celebrating individuality and uniqueness, be it cultural, ethnic, communitarian, or even cliquish, by making it accessible, educational, and welcoming to the many, is the key to ensuring that these differences become the glue that transcends race, gender, language, and much more, even if just for a short period of time. Music opens a door to understanding one another without words, and to seeing each other as humans, irrespective of our circumstances. 

For migrants, migration is about personal or economic growth, or about survival. For the host nation, welcoming migrants is regarded as either a burden or charity, rarely considering that most of these migration movements have been driven by imperialistic forces that have been at work for centuries. Besides the valuable labour that migrants bring to hosting nations, their arts and crafts such as music, dance, or cooking, are the positive aspects that make it easier to put aside negative feelings and try and make space for foreigners. As a result, these host nations see their cultural heritage enriched and reaching further out into the world, and migrants can enjoy the customs of both their homeland and of their new home while acting as essential cultural bridges. The same goes for communities not welcomed at home; over time, the passion and beauty springing from artists must become contagious and convert those who are entombed in their old ways.

Music will tell tales, open doors, and mend broken bonds or create new ones. All journeys involving the search for a home have their own soundtrack... I hope you will relate to and enjoy these selected stories told by Bana Haffar, Mentrix, Rasha Nahas, The Finches, Wizzy, WYWY, and Zazuka.  

Nadia Says is a music curator at YMA (Your Mom's Agency) in Berlin.