G45: Hi Rachel, tell us about yourself and the Rainbow Railroad Solidarity Event at Hosek Contemporary.
R.M.: What is quite important, is that I am a queer non-binary person, but not a person of colour, nor specifically Afghan. So this event is not intended to be self-promotion for my work, but rather a way of using a platform I have access to, through my privilege, to respond to what is happening to our queer siblings in Afghanistan. We have all seen the witness statements about what LGBTQI+ individuals are experiencing there at the moment, and I simply felt a need to do something, even a small something, to offer real support. Of course, awareness is a very important aspect of that support, but honestly, a few thoughts and warm wishes are not going to do much. We need to also garner financial resources which can actually provide opportunities for evacuation.
I would also like to be clear that I do not perceive myself as any kind of white saviour when it comes to these communities. However, I am a queer person who is currently in a “safer” space, and I believe that part of being in a community is sharing our resources. My artistic platform is the resource I have to give.
I am also involved with a movement here in Berlin called Queer Trans Liberation. Stella Spoon(she\her) is realizing this initiative and I have been honoured to connect and support my queer and trans community through this movement. Many artists and activists involved will also be donating their time and artistic expression to this event at Hosek Contemporary. This is for me a kind of dual initiative. As we, the ones privileged enough to share and express ourselves on this evening, gather in solidarity with our Afghan siblings, we also recognize that just because we are “safer”, does not mean we are “safe”.
G45: What can you tell us about the artists participating in this event?
R.M.: All of the artists represented on this evening deal with transphobia and queerphobia daily. The BIPOC artists deal with racism. And these discriminations result in direct violence against us. Yesterday, I attended the vigil of an Iranian transwoman who committed suicide in Alexanderplatz. In the gathering of mostly queer people, although there was plenty of anger and grief, there was also empathy and deep concern. It´s hard to be a trans person without having felt hopeless and powerless against a system designed to oppress you. And if you are a trans person of colour, well, I cannot speak for them, but we can be certain it´s only harder. These atrocities are unacceptable AND completely preventable. The lack of recognition and support we have from the German state is directly contributing to the violence we experience.
I believe healing is an action-based experience. We cannot do it alone. So as we demand action towards our LGBTQI+ siblings in immediate peril, this gathering is also intended to be one of those “safer” spaces. A space where queer and trans people, some refugees or migrants themselves, can express themselves without any dictation. I did not ask any of these artists to participate in a “theme”. They should come and say or express exactly what they desire and feel lifted by those witnessing. Perhaps this is a bit utopic, but I strongly believe creating hope is a necessary aspect of our continued existence in a society that continues to insist on erasure.
Finally, as a dancer who continues to benefit from white supremacy and colonial heritage, I am in contact with many artists who may attend this event under the guise of a “performance”, who might otherwise never attend the demos and protests where many of these activists speak. I hope this will also continue to spread the revolution in communities that continue to believe they are exempt from such responsibility, who wish to remain comfortable under the guise of abstract art.
G45: What is your internal motivation?
R.M.: Frankly, I am exhausted and angry, but I am also full of hope. My community is healing me, and I want to recycle some of that healing.
Photo Credit: Telmo Branco
G45: What other projects are you working on?
R.M.: In terms of other work I am doing, I am currently hosting free workshops for the FLINTA community in Berlin through my project “Matrilineal”. I was privileged enough to receive funds from Dachverband Tanz to realize both a performative and activist component of this project, which is concerned with how domestic violence is the result of patriarchal and heteronormative oppression. I am interested in dissecting the institution of family and normative gender roles as a method of breaking cycles of abuse. The free workshops are for people who also aim to heal and share positive body-based experiences in the aftermath of such domestic violence.
Rainbow Railroad is a global not-for-profit organization that helps LGTBQI+ people facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. In a time when there are more displaced people than ever before, LGBTQI+ people are uniquely vulnerable due to systemic, state-enabled homophobia and transphobia. These factors either displace them in their own country or prevent them from escaping harm.
As a result of the Rainbow Railroad, more LGBTQI+ individuals will be able to access lives free from persecution.
Established in 2016, Hošek Contemporary is a gallery, performance space and art residency located on a historical boat in Mitte, Berlin. The focus is primarily on performing arts, site-specific installations and experimental sound work. The gallery hosts weekly improvised music sets, providing musicians with an opportunity to showcase their sound skills to a Berlin audience.