ART & CULTURE
"The fact that you are affected by the consequences of colonialism, such as racism, does not necessarily mean that you know the facts. That's why working on AZIMUT was a journey into the past for all of us."
Since 2015, refugees have been a hot topic in Germany and in the European society. Addressing this often raises much controversy, perhaps because many do not feel seen and understood in Germany. Or perhaps because we live in a country where people bask in various forms of privileges and wealth, without giving thoughts to the underlining stories. The thematic meaning of this is out of the question, but very few are concerned about those who are primarily affected. Those who left their country hoping for a better life. But how does the confrontation with dreams, hopes and the past take place for these people? An inspiring example is the performance ensemble HAJUSOM.
The group was founded in 1999 out of a performance workshop, guided by the artists, Ella Huck and Dorothea Reinicke from Hamburg. The former workshop took place in the first-intake center for young refugees in which the participants HAtice, JUSef, and OMid took part, which later led to the name HAJUSOM. The success of the workshop motivated the two women to found an ensemble, which today has its main rehearsal rooms in the bunker on St. Pauli. In the last 20 years, however, Hajusom has not just remained a performance group:
"Since 2010, Hajusom has developed into a transnational center, which in addition to the performance ensemble, comprises of two further areas, namely LAB: the junior groups in which newcomers gather each week for music, hip-hop, cooking, and performance," says Hajusom.
"There is also a mentoring program for young Refugees and their families. The second area is TRANSFER: Over the years Hajusom has accumulated a lot of know-how in both the artistic and social sectors. The group shares this spirit in workshops for institutions, refugee classes in schools, in university seminars and festivals."
Taking a project to the stage can sometimes take over a year. The entire team participates in the preparation. Whether research or concept creation, everyone brings in their ideas. That's why Hajusom's end products are so incredibly diverse and, above all, political. The ages of the ensemble members are between 9 and 35 years. Therefore, we can imagine from the age difference, that not only experience, but also naivety plays a major role in the development phase of a new project. The artists bring all of this with them - their experience and history, which inevitably makes the pieces political.
"Issues such as climate or colonial memory and the existing everyday racism in Germany are topics which the Ensemble deals with, in projects such as "Silmande" or "Azimut".The theme of colonial memory affects every artist in the ensemble. Almost all of them are native (or have ancestors in) formerly colonized countries. Therefore, it was natural to deal with concrete narratives from the life of the performers, or to dig these out first, then to edit them artistically or to incorporate them into the performance in the form of movement or text. The fact that you are affected by the consequences of colonialism, such as racism, does not necessarily mean that you know the facts. That's why working on AZIMUT was a journey into the past for all."
Often international influences are involved in the collaborations "such as with Latai Taumoepeau, a performer from Tonga, the musician Jimi Tenor / Finland, or also with the string quartet "Ensemble Resonanz" here in Hamburg. The collaboration takes place in joint rehearsals, but also in the development of the piece in advance."
Hajusom's pieces are imposing, socially critical and give all participating artists the chance to express this creatively. They encourage you as a viewer to question your situation and above all, your privileges.
At the moment, the Ensemble is working on a new project to which Hajusom adds:
"The topic of colonialism will continue to occupy Hajusom, but this time, from the perspective of resistance. The rehearsals are starting and the new piece will be on stage at the end of March 2021, probably on Kampnagel, the international venue in Hamburg, with which we have a long partnership."