This vitally important exhibition gives anonymous refugees a face
In the beginning of 2017 the Iraqi-Belgian theatre maker Mokhallad Rasem stayed at the refugee centre of Menen for six weeks. He listened to the stories of the inhabitants and turned them into a much discussed solo performance. In this way he tried to give the many anonymous news items about refugees a human face.
Zielzoekers (Soulsearchers) now has two spin-offs. In Paris Rasem rebuilds the performance into a multi-voiced triptych with documentary and performance. For the installation in Valenciennes, which is to be seen at NEXTFestival, he interviewed refugees that are received in a local North French community. The ingenious installation that resulted from it, a box with four screens, was effected in cooperation with the art workshop La chambre d'eau in Favril.
Actor and producer Mokhallad Rasem (1981) was born and trained in Bagdad. The war in Iraq gave a different turn to his life and since 2005 he has been living and working in Belgium. His background as a refugee has strongly defined his work. For example, the unreal violence in his home country is at the centre of Irakese Geesten (Iraqi Ghosts), which was selected for the Flemish Theatre Festival in 2010. For Tijdelijk (Temporary) from 2017, Rasem worked together with young Syrian refugees who meanwhile are studying in Belgium or work around theatre and trauma processing. For Mother Song he went to Syria and Lebanon to talk to mothers who lost their husbands and sons in the war. In the recent Delivery Theatre, a takeaway theatre on order for which Rasem rode from house to house on a motorbike with a pop-up Bourla, he tells the story of the destroyed theatre building in Bagdad.
Rasem's work, which is physical and visual and often built by association, is highly appreciated home and abroad. Both at Theater Aan Zee, the Salzburger Festspiele and the BE Festival in Birmingham Rasem has received prestigious prizes. Since 2013 he has been a maker at the Antwerp Toneelhuis. There, together with Dood Paard actor Kuno Bakker, he also makes De Verse Tijd (The Fresh Time), which is also presented at NEXT2018.
'Zielzoekers touches us deeply.' – Filip Tielens about the performance Zielzoekers, De Standaard****
CONCEPT Mokhallad Rasem / PRODUCTION le phénix scène nationale Valenciennes, European Creative Hub, / COPRODUCTION Toneelhuis Anvers / RESIDENCY La Chambre d’Eau, Le Favril
Location: Valenciennes - Le Phénix