A performative-immersive installation - funded by the TURN Fund

The refugee crisis is slowly fading from view. The political negotiations between the EU and countries of northern and western Africa, along with the agreement with Turkey, have shifted the focus to supposedly political solutions. Yet the catastrophic extent of refugee migration and its underlying causes remain acute, and for many people, what was a desperate plight has only worsened with time.

With its project “SANCTUARY”, the Mousonturm in cooperation with Kampnagel Hamburg have created a surreal-fictitious space in which visitors can experience the refugee crisis and the fate of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. The South African artist Brett Bailey and his company Third World Bunfight have teamed up with the Syrian dramaturge Eyad Houssami to develop an immersive walk-through performance installation which questions our perception of current events and our notions of legality. In a labyrinthine, prison-like structure, fenced in and guarded by security personnel, ten refugees find themselves in legal limbo, hoping to reach a safe haven or receive a residence permit. The fates of these de-contextualised, isolated individuals are presented to the viewers in scenic fragments. In these scenes, the focus oscillates between closeness and distance, the physical presence of the actors and the medial representation and presentability of the refugees. Via radio headsets, the viewers also become listeners and their movements trigger new voices, stories and sounds as they move through the interactive installation. The aim is to sharpen their focus for the concrete realities of life as a refugee.

The term “sanctuary” can be taken to mean a refuge and a sacred place. In this project, the meaning fluctuates between shelter, danger and reflection, providing a space for the voices and fates of those who are actually impacted. In preparation for the project, Brett Bailey conducted field research at refugee camps in Athens and Lesbos, Calais, Dunkirk, Slovenia and Austria. Together with the Syrian-born Eyad Houssami, who experienced the trials of migration himself and lived as a refugee in Lebanon for a time, Bailey will organise a weeklong series of workshops in Hamburg and Frankfurt/Main with refugees. The hope is that these events will put a face on the refugee crisis and raise awareness of the current situation.

Performances, discussions and an accompanying programme are planned in Hamburg and Frankfurt, followed by presentations in Great Britain, France, Greece, Portugal and Belgium.

Artistic director (concept, design, stage direction): Brett Bailey (ZA); Dramaturgy: Eyad Houssami (SY)
Participating artists: Brett Bailey/Third World Bunfight (ZA), Magd Asaad, Sandrella Dakdouk,Francoise Hémy, Karam Al Kafri, Muna Mussie, Ian Robert, Nidal Sultan, Lionel Tomm

TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries

In 2012, the Federal Cultural Foundation established the TURN – Fund for Artistic Cooperation between Germany and African Countries in order to encourage a wide range of German institutions to shift their focus on the artistic production and cultural debates in African countries.

More about the TURN Fund (external link, opens in a new window)


  • 23 January, 2018 to 27 January, 2018: Performative installation

    Frankfurt LAB, Frankfurt am Main

  • 5 June, 2017 to 10 June, 2017: Performative installation

    Kampnagel, Hamburg