The ilb programme section Literatures of the world has invited Isabel Allende, Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Ha Jin, Chad Harbach, Michel Houellebecq, Herta Müller, Péter Nádas, Kiran Nagarkar, Laura Restrepo, Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Kyung-Sook Shin, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Kyung-Sook Shin.


Amir Hassan Cheheltan at
one of his favourite places
in Berlin, the Gendarmenmarkt
(Jan Greune)

A “Free Port of the Arts”

This free space in today's borderless Berlin generates a kind of artistic spontaneity, perhaps a desire to conquer new musical sound worlds with a megaphone, as Simon Steen-Andersen is currently trying out. For some guests this also involves the unusual elementary freedom of living in a democratic, pluralistic country without any censorship. The Hungarian writer György Konrád – who was a guest in Berlin 1977 – called the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme a “Free Port of the Arts”. You might call it a child of the Cold War. In the walled-in city of Berlin the aim was to create a wide-open window to topical international art and to attract creative stimuli into the city. At the same time the BKP invited “almost the entire non-conformist cultural elite of central and eastern Europe” to the city, says Katharina Narbutovic. The first academic studies have already been written on the role played by the BKP during the change processes that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain two decades ago. Today, the programme's geographical focus is shifting, and the BKP is increasingly opening up to the new epicentres of the globalized world. Even more than in the past, Katharina Narbutovic would like to direct the focus towards artists from non-European, non-Western cultures. “The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme should take a lead in dialogue with these regions,” she says. At the same time she would like to find “new networks, interlocutors for artistic dialogue and cultural ambassadors for Germany” through the scholarships.