Support the Supporters
Many cultural producers with a forced migration background face problems when starting or continuing their professional career in a new country - not only due to social differences, but also due to the lack of know-how within a specific system.
Knowing all the obstacles from his own experience, Khaled Barakeh is conducting workshops at UdK (University of Arts in Berlin), introducing artists with a forced migration background to the German art scene and the systems within it. Inspired by this experience, he initiated Support the Supporters project, organized and operated by refugees themselves.
Support the Supporters is a career development programme tailored to the needs of Berlin-based art practitioners with a forced migration background, aiming to support their professional development through CoCulture’s resources and infrastructure.
As we believe in the importance of knowledge and skills sharing and want to ensure that the workshops are precisely customised to the personal needs and possibilities of each participant, Support the Supporters programme offers not only a space for the creation of one’s own initiatives and institutions, but also tangible solutions for their development.
Background and mission
Today, we are facing one of the biggest refugee movements in history – according to the United Nations’ reports and as of 2017, there was approximately one person displaced every two seconds somewhere around the world. Developing countries’ populations are the most affected ones and the political instability of many regions deepens the issue; for instance, in the last 18 years, violent conflicts in MENA regions are the reason of approx. 60% of world’s conflict-related deaths and have generated the overwhelming number of an estimated 19 million refugees and internally-displaced persons. Those numbers account for the majority of world’s refugee population of today and, with millions of people being forced to flee annually, they tirelessly continue to grow.
With population of forcibly displaced people expanding that rapidly, new challenges and complex emergencies of an unprecedented scale emerge on a daily basis. To answer these growing needs of the exigent times we live in, new, innovative solutions have to be developed and introduced to our ever-changing societies.
One of the biggest concerns of the refugee crisis is the aspect of housing solutions – not only now, with refugee camps serving as temporary solutions to a much bigger problem, but also in the future, when post-conflict cities, countries and regions will be in need of sustainable innovations.
Giving Spaces project aims to educate people in terms of rebuilding more than just architectural structures, but rather the existence of whole communities. We believe that providing individuals with methods and knowledge strongly focused on the theme of sustainable architecture will create tangible opportunities for their independence.
Giving Spaces project is mainly based on the SuperAdobe building method developed by the late Iranian architect Nader Khalili, best known for incorporating a broad range of unorthodox building materials into his projects, mostly focused on emergency contexts and providing shelters for the residents of developing countries.
The basic technology of building SuperAdobe dome structures consists just of stacking earth-filled sandbags and reinforcing them with barbed wire; the structures can be furtherly stabilized and plastered or left unstabilized, serving as temporary shelters. It is a very time-efficient process and requires only a basic on-site training, while at the same time the possibilities of expanding it and integrating modern technologies into its architecture are practically endless. The finished dome structures are extremely resilient and well-suited to strive in a variety of environments.
The earth architecture’s possibilities are especially valuable in times of increasing displacement rates and therefore urgent housing needs; moreover, it can create an important contribution to the refugee-oriented debate, incorporating themes of emotional aid and societal improvements apart from the architecture itself. Inspired by Khalili’s SuperAdobe as well as traditional clay houses still present in Northern Syria and Rwandan reconciliation villages, Giving Spaces project incorporates variety of methods and socio-architectural solutions that correspond with our philosophy of positive transformations in societies of today through education, arts and culture.
We see the potential of Giving Spaces domes’ role in the multidisciplinary challenges of today’s displacement crisis – as much as they can serve temporarily as functional shelters for refugee communities, they can become long-term solutions as well. For instance, by training displaced people who wish to one day return to their countries of origin and providing them with an accessible method they can implement in the process of rebuilding their own houses and cities, we could decrease the level of their dependency on humanitarian aid or other organizations and therefore strengthen their psychosocial wellbeing in the process. Thus, providing refugee communities - struggling due to the experienced hardships, tragedies, emotional and material losses - with a tangible, affordable housing option that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to them could potentially change the course of the whole debate on the future of MENA region and its dependency on the international actors. Furthermore, Giving Spaces domes can serve as cultural hubs, arts and community centres, hosting a broad range of initiatives and activities.
For more information on EcoDomes, please visit www.calearth.org.
We strongly believe in facilitating knowledge and skill sharing. One componant of our Support the Supporters project is utilising our experience and infrastructure to support up-and-coming artists to come to Berlin from the MENA region. Our fellowship program offers support both with artistic advice and practical support navigating the complexities of German bureaucracy. To realise this sub-project we are collaborating with the Martin Roth Stiftung who is supporting us to host artistic fellows. We are currently collaborating with a Libyan artist, who has been based out of our Berlin Studio space since the beginning of 2019.
The Mentorship program is a career development programme tailored to the needs of Berlin-based art practitioners with a forced migration background, aiming to support their projects and professional development through CoCulture’s resources and infrastructure. We want to build up the capacity of participants to enable them to realise their artistic and cultural projects.
Our mentorship programme is precisely customised to the personal needs and possibilities of each participant, offering not only a space for the creation of one’s own initiatives and institutions, but also tangible solutions for their development. Our mentorship programme will formally begin in Spring 2020.