Art for Freedom

Ukrainian artist Aleksandra Kovaleva will be exhibiting two of her works from 13 to 16 July at the 11th Millerntor Gallery in the Millerntor Stadion and will be present. Melika Balali’s portrait The Exile Buds will be auctioned on 11 July, and as of now bids can be placed online HERE.

“We are very happy that Aleksandra is coming to Hamburg and sharing her current situation with us through her great artworks,” says AID A director Anna Schildt.

On display will be two paintings from an art series in which Aleksandra Kovaleva processes her family’s experience of flight. Over the past nine months, she has lived in 10 different places. They are family portraits that deal with not being at home, but also show the ambivalence of not wanting to be a burden as a war refugee. The titles of the works are the addresses of the places where Aleksandra’s family has stayed.

The series was developed as part of the NORA residency programme of the Association des Centres Culturelles de Recontre with the support of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

Aleksandra Kovaleva will also participate in the panel discussion “Artists in Exiles – Making Waves: The Art of Speaking Out” on 15 July at Millerntor Gallery.

Aleksandra Kovaleva is one of more than 10 refugee artists whom Aid A supports both ideally and financially. Aleksandra Kovaleva was born in Crimea in 1984. She grew up in Kiev and, after completing her theatre studies, worked as a cultural manager and press officer for various cultural institutions, including the Molodist International Film Festival Kiev and the Odessa International Film Festival. She has been working as an artist since the age of 25, participating in numerous collective exhibitions and also exhibiting her own art works. She is currently writing her second novel, The Groundwater, about the Crimean Tatars, with the support of AID A in France.

The artwork of another artist will be auctioned on 11 July 2023 as part of the timed auction: The Exile Buds is the title of a painting by the Iranian-Scottish women’s rights activist, painter, poet and wrestler Melika Balali. It is part of the Women, Life, Freedom collection, supported by AID A among others, in which Melika portrays Iranian women who have resisted gender discrimination and patriarchy in Iran and protested against the mandatory hijab.

The Exile Buds is a painting I made inspired by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani and her struggle for freedom and equality during her time in exile. I wanted to depict her journey and evolution from the darkness and censorship she experienced during her time in Iran and her continued commitment in fighting for women’s rights. The image of flowers in exile is a reminder of the strength and determination of women all over the world to stand up against grievances and oppression and never give up.”

Melika Balali was born on 27 December 1999 in Shahr-e Kord in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, where she also grew up. From her childhood, art and literature were her passions. She won the best poster design award at the Made in Arkansas Film Festival for the short film Limit (2017) directed by Javad Dararei. In 2021, she moved to Scotland where she took up wrestling. She always loved freestyle wrestling, but she couldn’t take up

Hidden Statement

In order to help art in Afghanistan regain visibility, artistic positions will be presented to a global public in continuous digital solo exhibitions in Germany from June 2023 under the title Hidden Statement. The exhibition will open on 30 May with a roundtable discussion in Rome. AID A supports this project by forwarding donations for the project directly to Afghanistan.

For the digital exhibitions Hidden Statement, the Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden is making its digital exhibition space available, which was designed by the New York studio Walter’s Cube. More than 150 artists in Afghanistan are to be given the opportunity of a digital solo exhibition here in order to save their artworks from being completely erased. The artists will remain anonymous until they are safe. The exhibitions are put together by various artists and curators and published regularly on the website of the Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden.

The Goethe Institut Rome and the Deutsche Akademie Rom Villa Massimo will open the exhibition Hidden Statement on 30 May 2023 in Rome with a round table discussion. Edoardo Albinati and Francesca d’Aloja (who will report on their trip to Afghanistan in November 2022), Batool Haidari (a sexologist from Kabul who specialises in paedophilia and lives with her family near Rome), Michael Mai (lawyer from Berlin) and Elke Gruhn (director of the Nassauischer Kunstverein in Wiesbaden, initiator of the Hidden Statement exhibition) will speak. Andreas Krüger (former Deputy Afghanistan Commissioner of the Federal Government) will be the moderator of the event. Rahraw Omarzad (director of the CCAA in EXiLe, Centre for Contemporary Afghan Art) and the art collective AVAH – Afghan Visual Arts and History – will be attending via video stream.

Contemporary art production has been difficult to almost impossible in Afghanistan for many years. Thanks to the successful evacuation of Rahraw Omarzad (director of the CCAA – Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan) and his family of four to Rome and the CCAA in Exile recently founded in Frankfurt on Omarzad’s initiative, sponsors and supporters would like to maintain the connection between Afghanistan, Germany and Italy. The Goethe-Institut also plans to continue this cooperation in Germany as part of the Afghanistan focus of its project “Goethe-Institut in Exile” in autumn 2023

Past Events

Reading with Aid A artists

As part of the Week of Action against Racism, a reading was held on 24 March 2022 under the title We live in exile. No the exile lives in us, a reading took place with Rosa Yassin Hassan, Yildiz Çakar, Omid Rezaee and Christiane Filla.

With their texts, poems and stories, Rosa Yassin Hassan, Yildiz Çakar and Omid Rezaee made their artistic and journalistic voices heard, reflected on their own exile experiences and shared their own texts, poems and stories with the audience. The actress Christiane Filla read translations of some Arabic and Kurdish texts. The reading took place as a cooperation event of Aid A, Amnesty International at the University of Hamburg and Bucerius Law School in the Moot Court of Bucerius Law School.

Photos: Stefan Philipp

Art and Protest

Aid A supports the performance artist Silvanos Mudzvova from Zimbabwe and enabled the premiere of his satirical performance “King of Mutapa” at the Lichthof Theater on 13.11.2018 as part of the Days of Exile.

A dark stage, on the floor foliage, incense sticks, feather ornaments, masks and animal skins: The performance artist Silvanos Mudzvova is King of Mutapa and chronicler of a bygone time that still has an effect today. He slips into the role of the rulers, the conquerors, the ancestors and healers, the oppressed and tortured, accompanied by the constantly repeating sounds of the Mbira (music: Björn Norrgard). With full physical commitment and great intensity, Mudzvova conveys the suffering of his ancestors and his country. Angrily he speaks of his own pain and grotesquely demonstrates the harshness of the conquerors, rulers and rulers behind a masked grimace. History repeats itself.

It is also his own story that Silvanos Mudzvova reveals with his performance during the Tages des Exils. He, too, is a victim of the repressive regime in Zimbabwe and was arrested, kidnapped and tortured under former President Robert Mugabe for his dissident theatre work and his actions in public space, most recently in September 2016. Since then he has been paralyzed on the left.

Mudzvova currently lives and works in Manchester. In 2017 he founded the online TV channel BhanditiTV as an alternative media channel for Zimbabwe. In the same year he was awarded the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent and was nominated for the Freedom of Expression Award in 2018.

He wrote his play “King of Mutapa” in 2017 as a fellow at the University of Manchester. The premiere in Hamburg and the following audience discussion with Anna Jäger of savvy contemporary was made possible and financed by the association Aid A – Aid for Artists in Exile.

Texts from Exile

The actress Christiane Filla read from the anthology Fluchtpunkt:Hamburg – Texte aus dem Exil on 3 December 2018.

Refugee writers, journalists and bloggers write about flight, migration and integration in the anthology Fluchtpunkt:Hamburg – Texte aus dem Exil. 22 authors have their voices heard who are connected to Hamburg or who have found a new home in the Hanseatic city. The spectrum ranges from elegy to polished political essay. The reading with actress Christiane Filla took place at Bistro Roth in Hamburg.

Aid A at NDR

A team from NDR broadcaster DAS! was a guest at Aid A and portrayed the writer and scholarship holder Rosa Yassin Hassan.

In a contribution for NDR, the writer Rosa Yassin Hassan talks about the freedom of being able to work on her new book in peace thanks to the scholarship. In the conversation with Christiane Filla and Anna Schildt, she also talks about creative crises and the pressures weighing on her. Filla and Schildt appreciate the personal contact and are proud to be able to draw on a national and international network within a very short time in order to help persecuted artists quickly and unbureaucratically.

Aid A presents itself

At the beginning of May 2018, Christiane Filla and Anna Schildt informed about the work of the association in the comune in the Gängeviertel.

It was a lively exchange in the rooms of the comune in the Gängeviertel: fled artists, filmmakers, authors, actors as well as film and theatre directors informed themselves about the work and support of  Aid A – Aid for Artists in Exile e.V.. They also had the opportunity to talk to artists working in Hamburg as well as representatives of universities and other Hamburg foundations to build up and deepen their networks.

Artists at Risk – Panel

The panel Artists at Risk at Thalia in Gaußstraße on 2 February 2018 was dedicated to the situation of persecuted artists.

More and more artists can not work freely anymore. Artists who stand for the values of democracy risk their livelihood or even their existence. They are on the run, imprisoned or not allowed to leave their country. These are not just countries like Turkey and China or Russia. In Poland and Hungary opposition artists are effectively banned from work; Theaters and festivals showing the production »The Curse« by Oliver Frljić in Poland will be canceled. The Hungarian National Security Committee declared the director Árpád Schilling a potential predator of anti-state activities.

Film Sponsorship

Aid A übernahm eine Filmpatenschaft für den Dokumentarfilm Human Flow von Ai Weiwei beim 25. Filmfest Hamburg.

Ai Weiwei has lived away from his Chinese homeland for two years, and his migration was not voluntary. The people he meets on his one-year journey through 23 countries are not prominent dissidents and artists. They flee from war and misery, through jungles, over mountains and seas. Ai Weiwei has traveled to Kenya and Iraq, Gaza and Italy, in Berlin’s reception centers and on Greek beaches, speaking to people who left everything behind. In impressive pictures he gives hope, deprivations and fears to his protagonists, who are representative of the 65 million who are on the run today.

Get Together / BFFS

Aid A presented itself on 3 October 2017 at the BFFS Get Together as part of the 25th Filmfest Hamburg.

Aid A introduced itself at the 25th Filmfest Hamburg. Anna Schildt and Christiane Filla spoke to over 100 acting colleagues and industry representatives in the festival pavilion in front of the ABATON cinema about Aid A’s funding opportunities and the association’s work.


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