Festival – Durchlüften 2024 by Humboldt Forum – Interview mit der Kuratorin Melissa Perales

“To offer spaces for people to tell their stories (…) to give us messages which can uplift …”

melissa de tropicos für Durchlüften

Vom 18. Juli bis 10. August findet (im Donnerstags, Freitags und Samstags) im Innenhof des Humboldt Forums auch 2024 wieder das Open-Air Musikfestival DURCHLÜFTEN statt. Die Konzerte und Dj-Sets sind allesamt gratis.

Unter anderen treten Ustad Noor Bakhsh, Sessa, Bia Ferreira, Emel (Mathlouthi), Vincent Moon, Rabih Beaini und Booty Carrell auf.

Das transkulturelle und genreübergreifende Live-Programm bietet von Sufi Dub über tansanischen Bongo Flava bis zu Balochi Benjo Klängen aus Pakistan viele unterschiedliche Soundentwürfe und
wurde von der Berliner Kuratorin Melissa Perales zusammengestellt.

Auf der Website des Festivals finden sich Informationen zu allen auftretenden Künstler:innen.

Melissa, I am curious to learn more about your curational working process. Can you describe how long you work on a project like Durchlüften and how you create the final lineup in regards of music styles, representation etc…?

Melissa Perales (Photo: Jens Oellermann)

Melissa Perales: This is my Fourth Season with Durchlüften and I can say that I have learned a lot curating these past four seasons, not only in the process but also I have developed a new practice and am always investigating each time what it means for me and for whom am I curating and why. I feel that I have grown as a curator through this process.

This is the first festival which I have curated the program completely alone and not in a team and also the first time I do not have to worry about production, this frees up a lot of time to really do the research and LISTEN!

This festival is also the first time that I work together with an institution, as you know, it has its perks and also complications. This year I managed the booking in a very small time window, I got the go ahead at the end of January and turned in the program by the 4th of April. This I could only do as I now have a flow – I started with many notes and ideas from the year before and many booking contacts which are now aware of the festival which helped a lot!. This is for me the great thing about working on projects and events which build towards longevity, ones that develop its own brand for lack of a better word perhaps, more purpose?

You also curate a lot of other events and festivals. What makes Durchlüften so special to you?

In this festival I have been able to find my own voice and have cemented many great connections to the artists over the years. Through the process of researching each year and communicating with the artists to explain what my curatorial mission is and what I think we can create together adds a layer to doing a job like this, it has been very rewarding and healing to me, and I get to honour my ancestors which when i was first asked was not what i expected.

I have never had such great reactions from audiences, who come up to me after the shows and thank me for the evening, or for what I say on the stage, or helping them discover such great artists, and that all for Free! So Feedback is very important and now going into the 4th season, I have one part of the audience that is very faithful and coming on several nights and are music enthusiasts , mixed in with curious visitors that just happen into the courtyard from the museums insel and receive a big surprise, to the museum goers of all ages that stumble out and hear the music playing and join in, to the fans and friends direct from the communities supporting their favourite artists. This kind of weird audience mix does not happen that often – and I appreciate this kind of diversity that a free entrance and barrier-free festival can offer.

Does the venue Humboldt Forum has an influence on your curation?

If I did not take into consideration what the significance of the building has on the city and what it contains I would be doing this festival and the artists a disservice! I have been the first curator for this festival therefore since the beginning when the Humboldt Forum had barely opened their doors and was still partly under construction and during Covid restrictions. So there were many hurdles the first couple years and also for myself personally to fully understand and embody what I believed that I could bring to this festival opposed to someone else.

Over the years and working with the team, which have been wonderful and have given me the freedom to bring such an amazing program each year to the courtyard but I also believe the festival and its artists could be able to bring and create more impact with its connection to other events happening inside the space throughout the year, where artists, writers, designers and dancers for example connect to what the collections mean to them or their countries, tribes, people etc .. it is always so much more powerful when we bring the connections back to its creative human origins and the people to whom feel connected especially to their ancestors and can go into a discussion rather than only standing outside and not having the chance to interact with the topics that such an institution brings with it.

To me Durchlüften as a name has a deep political association, is that the intention? 

Melissa Perales

I did not come up with the name, it was the first two curators from the house that i worked with in the first year, we talked a lot about what vision I had and they gave me a lot of feedback. In the beginning the name felt a little “Foreign” to me but since then, I have added my own context to the name and now have seen what impact the artists stories and words leave behind, tiny seeds on this festival ground and some magic in the air.

The name does have the imagery of opening up the window and clearing the air and also a sort of purification ceremony which we do each night by nature of the artists music. Each year we take up this space and create new winds, we call to ancestors to hear our stories, to follow the music, the joy and the sorrows of what this very many sided space contains.

And I do think that bringing these voices – some reminding us, some of descent, some full of hope and others asking for change – make this much more charged and full of an energy than a strictly commercial festival can offer. And its opens some doors to people who have been in the dark about so many topics, especially regarding the colonial history of Germany.

How important is it for you as a curator and also as a music fan that artists in general are also representing with their art a political position, that they are connected to a cultural community?

I think it’s definitely important for all artists and creatives to have their positions about the world they want to live in. I believe that this is an underlying idea of what my creational direction has been about to offer spaces for people to do exactly that: tell their stories, to let us know what’s on their minds and give us messages which can uplift or bring some hope, because I believe this is what the gift of music does for me and am sure most people from what i have experienced. I do think that this is possible in every genre. If it’s not in words it can be felt in a sound.

Durchlüften Playlist 2024 by Melissa Perales 

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