"If there was a war - all of us became 'refugees' - and who on earth would want to have us then?"


Europe faces this question- raised by a Syrian artist in 2011 shortly befotre the "crisis" turned into war- which polarises society and politics. We show compassion to those fleeing: ousted from their homes in mortal danger, possibly loosing it forever. Once having reached our safe haven feelings start to get mixed. In the haven, concerns about the nativity of the own country begin to rise, unsettled by the arrival of the foreign, the many. Whereas the situation of those having reached the haven, stays precarious. "Who is ousted from his home (or brings up the bravery to flee), suffers. The threads binding people and objects together, are cut"1. The squatted Oranienplatz and Gerhard- Hauptmann- Schule in Kreuzberg have been turned into symbols for the wish and demand of those with unclear asylum status. They don’t want assigned asylum quarters , they fight for self-determination of space, freedom of movement and the right to work, which means to become active member of society.The demand of an unlimited right to stay is the demand for participation.

1 Villem Flusser,"Wohnung beziehen in der Heimatlosigkeit", Originaltonaufnahmen 1985/1991

The discourse with „Fleeing“ is concerned with home and homelessness, it is concerned with space.

KUNSTASYL (lit. Art Shelter) was founded in 2015. The participatory art and research project was initiated by the Swiss- German artist barbara caveng. The German-Tunisian architect Aymen Montasser, the Berlin based visual artist Therry Kornath, the resident photographer and journalist Till Rimmele and Dachil Sado, originating from Iraq and studying visual art since 2017, are part of the founding members. A dorm (HEIM) in Staakener Straße in Berlin-Spandau with approximately 100 residents was turned into the vantage point of the collective project development, by invitation of the dorm manager Gorden Grunwald. The building used to be the department of health in the periphery to an industrial zone was never was never thought to be lived in. According to the standard regulations of the LaGeSo (Provincial department for health and social affairs), it has been modified for accommodation. The absolute minimum is kept within a few sqm per person, requiring 'TableBedChairDresse and a Garbage Can With Lid'. The shelter was a place for accommodation; offering room, however no space- neither for communication, nor play or engagement with the locals.

In 2015, KUNSTASYL inquired:

  • how housing/ living - instead of accommodating - be more self-determined and created by asylum seekers themselves through "conquering space"?

  • how existing structures can be changed, added onto and extended by people, who have fled, to create an inclusive social space.

  • what concepts and strategies can be developed in cooperation with locals and migrants by employing art as catalyst, transforming provisional arrival into integrated residence?

It was intended to create visibility for the shelter and its residents by utilizing artistic performance and interventions as well as enhance the internal/ external communication. For a period of over 14 months the HEIM (Shelter) was turned into a performative place; it became living space, workshop and stage, opening up to the outside. Acquaintances turned into friendship. KUNSTASYL generated a collective identity, overcoming boundaries of nation, religion and ethnicity.

In 2016/17, based on the collective experience and multitude of trained artistic expressions, the KUNSTASYL-Community developed in collaboration with the MEK Museum of European Cultures Berlin an exhibition project: Opens internal link in current window"daHEIM: Einsichten in flüchtige Leben" (daHEIM:glances into fugitive lifes”) was realised in a four-month open workshop process.

At 1st of July 2017 KUNSTASYL gave its goodbye to the MEK as THE KINGS. The exhibition area, the foyer and the garden of the museum were turned into the stage ofOpens internal link in current window UTC 7 HOURS PARALLEL PERFORMANCES, a long days ride from 1pm to 8pm with thirty performers, artists, experts of any profession, students, residents and itinerants.

In autumn 2017 the performance group DIE KOMPANIE was founded by fourteen members of THE KINGS.

Since 2015 KUNSTASYL, residents and institutions on local, communal, national and international levels created diverse cooperations. KUNSTASYL performs in conferences and on symposia, participates in exhibitions and develops various formats of interventions and workshops.

Social participation requires a shared system of values.

Stefanie Scheirer | Dachil Sado | Iyas Sari | Larissa Hermanns | barbara caveng | Omar Alshaer | Stephan Navar | Basim Bashir Suleman | Lamin E. Sanneh: Silent reading of the Charter of Human Rights.

As part of the six-month working process of UTC-7 HOURS PARALLEL PERFORMANCES, the protagonists formulated their own Declaration of Human Rights. It begins with:

Art. 1
Every human being has the right to be called a human being.

and ends with

Article 31
Every human has the right to be happy.

The KUNSTASYL 'Declaration of Human Rights' is available for Initiates file downloaddownload here.

If you are interested to learn more about our work or in case of any question, please send us an email to daheim@kunstasyl.net