My first time in Berlin was during the spring of 2011, I was touring a sister duo of musicians I produced as a folk band named “Las Acevedo”. I took the twins to Madrid, while we were creating awareness about the education budget in the Dominican Republic being used for populist political campaign. We were demanding the government to respect the 4% of the national budget to be dedicated to education. It didn’t work out…
It was a strange spring; the wake of something I would dare to say; and I was totally feeling it.
In Madrid, the “occupy movement”, known locally as “indignados” took by storm the Plaza Mayor, just one block away from my hotel, it was feverish, full of youth and I thought of infecting the twins with this political “geist”, like a vaccination for their future, for when they return to the Dominican Republic and feel they don’t want to continue collaborating with me, at least some “taste for social justice” remain within their mind.
That same week I took my flight to Berlin where I was expected to meet and discuss proposals and offers given to me for the project. I declined them all. Instead I got absorbed into the void of a mistress city, where some people on the left demanded the end of the Euro-zone, and everybody seemed to pray for the death of Capitalism, it all seemed to me so, so intriguing.
I moved to Berlin the following year, in 2012. I’ve been here ever since with no perspective of changing for another place in the horizon, I like it here; it feels right.
It was a decision I made amidst a very turbulent situation in which my activist and journalist work forced authorities in Dominican Republic to label me as person-non-grata. I was very critical about the way that year’s presidential election was handled and in particular against the still-in-power president Danilo Medina. That was the beginning of my life in exile, saying good-bye to family, friends and lovers, to my job and my fancy loft with a view to the park at the district of Piantini in Santo Domingo.
In September of 2012, after some months between Miami, Mexico city and New York, I finally arrived in Berlin.
It’s been 5 years that I am here, what a place to live? I’ve seen it all… I understand the cycles of the city which spins ad infinitum, those who remain, those who are gone. People and places I never met, missed or even forgot about. A constant jack-in-a-box is what describes this city the most.
Now I am a part of the larger mechanism which drives the engines of the city. After curating what at its time seemed to be promising art space and archive at the Hans-Heinrich Müller Umspannwerk on Richardstraße in Neukölln, I am now editor and curator at my own platform for art and aesthetics. Simultaneously I continue my journalist research and critique work at the heart of these times of decay. Having the joy a critic is privileged with.
Altogether my journalism, and still being a persona-non-grata back in Dominican Republic, has forced me to seek asylum in German in 2015. So, I guess I am one of those some people might refer to as “refugee”.
Photo taken at Bötzowviertel, July 2017
© petrov ahner