Berlin’s Neu Wache, a prominent anti-war monument, recently hosted a performance by Kurdish musicians Burcu Yankın and Selda Öztürk, along with dancer Gülcan Küçük. This event, held on 12 January, showcased a fusion of music, dance and visual art, converging with the sombre backdrop of Käthe Kollwitz’s sculpture ‘Mother and Dead Son’.
Kollwitz, a renowned German expressionist painter and sculptor, had her work poignantly paired with the Kurdish Anonymous Song ‘Meşkê’ during the performance. Kollwitz, who lost her son in World War I, is celebrated for her anti-war stance and exploration of death in her art. The performance brought to life the Kurdish song’s narrative on the destructive impacts of war, especially from a woman’s perspective.
The song, performed in Kurdish by female dengbejs, includes lyrics that poignantly depict the loss and sorrow of war. Phrases like “Dinxe was killed in a time of peace, poor thing. Women snatched their cradles away, poor thing,” resonate deeply with the theme of Kollwitz’s art. This unique collaboration aimed to highlight the shared sentiments against war, violence, and dictatorship, echoing the powerful message ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî’ (Woman, Life, Freedom).
This performance was part of the ‘Music for Women’ project by Yekmal e.V., a Berlin-based association focused on various initiatives for Kurdish families and children. The project included multi-lingual music workshops where women of diverse ages and nationalities came together to sing songs in Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic, Syriac, and Armenian, experiencing the empowering effects of multilingualism and polyphony.
Yekmal e.V., established in 1993 by Kurdish parents, teachers, and educators in Berlin, aims to promote participation and education, especially for families with a history of migration. As a non-profit organisation, Yekmal e.V. stands against all forms of discrimination and racism, committing to human rights and equality principles. The organisation currently operates in five different states across Germany.
The ‘Meşkê’ performance video is accessible on the YouTube channels of Kardeş Türküler and Yekmal e.V. It stands as a testament to the power of art in voicing opposition to war and promoting peace and understanding among diverse cultures.