At the opening of the 22nd international literature festival berlin, Claudia Roth, Minister of State for Culture and Media, Dr. Klaus Lederer, Mayor and Senator for Culture and Europe in Berlin, and Matthias Pees, Director of the Berliner Festspiele, welcome the visitors to the festival and set the mood for eleven eventful days in Berlin, a city of literature.
Claudia Roth, MdB, Minister of State for Culture and Media
Already six decades ago, Heinrich Böll wrote that contemporary literature had been given a responsibility it could not fulfill. And indeed, we must still be careful not to expect too much of literature. This can be difficult given the impact literature can have. Everyone who reads, everyone who listens to literature at readings will find that it stimulates their thoughts. Dialogues with writers inspire intellectual engagement withnew or previously unfamiliar subjects. This also fosters the ability to participate in democratic discourse. Today, more than ever, the many literary perspectives from allover the world are essential for democracy to thrive – especially at a time when weare confronted with the horrors of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. And that is why I am delighted that this year’s international literature festival berlin [ilb] can take place again in front of a live audience, at many different venues, and with many interesting discussions. The tireless Ulrich Schreiber and his team have once again managed to put together a program that reflects the entire spectrum and diversity of literature – a program that includes pressing issues of our time, fascinating subjects, and writers from approximately 50 countries. And what makes this international literature festival especially attractive for me is the diversity of genres and cultural forms. Where else are graphic novels and children’s books so prominently featured alongside prose, poetry – for example at the poetry nights – and nonfiction? This wide-ranging program shows that the 22nd international literature festival berlin will live up to its reputation. Despite all the expectations that contemporary literature often faces, literature can and should simply be enjoyable; it should make us cry and make us laugh. So let us look forward to eleven days of literature in September that will be rich in both wordsand events!
Dr. Klaus Lederer, Mayor and Senator for Culture and Europe in Berlin
I am always impressed by the diversity in which literature is presented at this festival.160 authors from five continents will showcase their work at the ilb over the course of 11 days, interact with other forms of art, discuss their work and worldviews, and of course read from their latest creations. The best part is that 30,000 visitors are expected, and they will hopefully be able to come to the events this year »in person« and without restrictions. I think it’s fantastic that, in addition to the big international names, excellent authors are once again being invited who have so far been less well-known outside of their homecountries. In this way, it is possible to give space to literature that is often discriminated against or even suppressed by repressive policies in the country of origin. Literature in particular, in its ability for reflection, enables insight and sometimes even empathy into worlds of thought, ideas, and states of mind that at first seem foreign. These insights are important, indeed indispensable, steps toward shaping a common, peaceful world, from which the dominant economy of the strong will hopefully gradually be displaced and living conditions for all people will improve. There is no doubt that intercultural exchange is wonderfully promoted by this festival of »world literature«, and that is a service to Berlin as a city of literature. The translated works here play an important role in this. They are what intensify the mutual exchange and even often make it possible in the first place. I hope that you, dear visitors, will find time not only for conversations and discussions with your colleagues from all over the world, but also to take a few strolls through our city. It is worthwhile to get to know the »extra-literary« Berlin as well. Dear Mr. Schreiber, I thank you and the whole team for your excellent, tireless work! I wish the 2022 international literature festival berlin great success once again!
Matthias Pees, Director of the Berliner Festspiele
Fortunately, the world is not as it is written about in the newspapers. If it were, things would be far worse than they already are. Blanket attributions shape the ghastly debate. Out of fear of uncertainty, it is conducted primarily in a confessional manner; out of fear of losing the interpretative upper hand, of losing real but also illegitimate interests, as well as perceived but contested superiority, it seems like a proxy war for a twisted cultural struggle that has fallen out of time as well as out of the world. Rarely have such times and worlds frightened us so much. But actually, far more than the present time shaped by the pandemic, war, and the energy and climate crises, the repressed and unresolved horrors of the past seem to be catching up with us. Fortunately, there are books. And writers all over the world who, out of responsibility for language and speech, for description and sensation, paint this world and our past, present, and possible conditions in a different light with a poetic as well as political awareness of perspective, relation, and transformation. Rectifying, replacing, re-organizing; making it perceptible and tangible. I will never forget how the Belgian actor Bruno Vanden Broecke first trembled in the dressing room before his performance of David Van Reybrouck’s Congo monologue »Mission« at the Vienna Festival [he also performed it at the Berliner Festspiele]. And then at his podium, in front of more than a thousand spectators, he lost all fear, only trusting in himself and in a text that can, for some or many who hear it, manage to change the appearance of the entire world: more comprehensive, simultaneously clearer and more complex, as well as more painful and more healing. Fortunately, then, there is the ilb! To multiply such experiences and to finally make them happen again at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. Welcome!