Soundtracks: Recording in Progress!

The audio play
What distinguishes receiving societies? Who receives and records whom, and to what end? How do the German media report about arrival and reception? The author and radio broadcaster Julia Tieke developed an audio play that converts the media discourse into a linguistic and acoustical process of translation, interpretation, and commentary.

2015 media reports in German, mainly portraits and reports about migration and displacement experiences by various groups, form the basis for nine monologues. They were translated into the respective languages of the countries of origin and then recorded in seven different languages. The multi-lingual collage is supplemented by excerpts from the Basic Law, Germany’s constitution, a German text level as well as singing by all of the involved actors.

The work was initially conceived specifically for the cupola hall of the silent green in Berlin-Wedding as a walk-in audio play for twelve loudspeakers arranged throughout the space. Later, a stereo version was made and can be heard here.

The audio guide
On a second level, Julia Tieke recorded the entire work process with a microphone and used that to create a 50-track audio guide. In it, the translators, speakers and sound technicians who participated in the creation of the audio play comment and explain both personal and content-related details. In addition, some of the foreign-language monologues of the play were re-interpreted back into German. All of the comments and conversations (a total of approx. 5 hours and 30 minutes) are in German if not stated otherwise.

Soundtracks in cooperation with Schlesische27, raumlaborberlin, TAK Theater and silent green as part of 100 Years of Now.

The audio play

Soundtracks: Recording in Progress!

A walk-in audio play with too many voices (and too little translation)

The audio guide

I. Lost in Translation— Translators as mediators

01—Schatzis, original masculinity, and guest workers

With Anila Shuka in the process of translating the Albanian texts (10 min)

02—“Most of the people who speak here are already describing themselves from the foreigner’s viewpoint.”

Anila Shuka on the links between Kosovo and Germany (7:20 min)

03—“I think the sentence has been translated incorrectly since the 1950s.”

Anila Shuka on Kanun, customary law in Albania (7 min)

04—“They try not to portray Kosovo as clichéd as Albania.”

Anila Shuka on two-dimensional perspectives and ironic self-descriptions (4:40 min)

05—“Really, no one would say that.”

Dorota Stroińska on the controversial nature of the term “Eastern Europe” (4:20 min, on the phone)

06—“The women offer each other support.”

Dorota Stroińska on Polish nurses in Germany and their relationships with one another (8:40 min, on the phone)

07—“Not that anyone thinks the woman went to a brothel.”

Dorota Stroińska on the translation and meaning of Agentur in Polish (2:30 min, on the phone)

08—“Actually, the challenge is to take up and accept something we don’t under- stand, that seems foreign to us.”

Dorota Stroińska on the limits of translation and why we need “ear caregivers” (3:30 min, on the phone)

09—“Did you get congra yet?”

Freweyni Habtemariam on translating structures and the creation of new words (3:10 min, on the phone)

10—“Then his whole story can be questioned.”

Freweyni Habtemariam addresses the Eritrea monologue— civil war, containers, and clumsy good intentions (10:10 min, on the phone)

11—“The real criticism I have is: What makes such an art form necessary?”

Freweyni Habtemariam on unasked questions (5:50 min, on the phone)

12—“Refugees are not listened to enough.”

Freweyni Habtemariamon talking, listening, and core political issues (2:40 min, on the phone)

13—“It would be absolutely crucial to make sure that no one with obvious loyalties to the regime is used as an interpreter.”

Freweyni Habtemariam on interpreting in the asylum process (2:10 min, on the phone)

14—“Oops, how do I translate that?”

Gloria Fochs on Schützenfest, Feierabend, and questions of gender in Spanish (5:10 min, on the phone)

15—“The beauty of translating is that you don’t mechanically replace A with B.”

Gloria Fochs on her professionand the greater demand for translations of certificates into German (2:50 min, on the phone)

16—“All of them together make a good story.”

Sharmila Hashimi on the Afghanistan monologue (4:30 min)

17—“Did (not) come to eat sausage soup.”

Sharmila Hashimi on how Afghan refugees are portrayed and treated in Germany (12:50 min)

18—“My first priority is to go back to studying.”

Sharmila Hashimi on her plans for the near future (7:20 min)

19—From yearning to punitive fines, from Bedouin jewelry to piercings.

With Somar Almir Mahmoud in the process of translating the Arabic texts, part 1 (12:50 min)

20—Questions about masculinization, about a female voice with male grammar and a new word for rubber boat.

With Somar Almir Mahmoud in the process of translating the Arabic texts, part 2 (8:40 min)

21—Egal, eben, zu viel—difficulties with performative translation.

Somar Almir Mahmoud on usage and on how "zu" can be expressed in Arabic (6:10 min)


22—Monologue Syria

Woman’s voice (Fatina Laila), interpreted by Günther Orth (6:50 min)

23—Monologue Syria

Man’s voice (Ayham Majid Agha), interpreted by Günther Orth (11:50 min)

24—Monologue Iraq

(Inaam Wali-Al Battat), interpreted by Günther Orth (7:50 min)

25—Monologue Afghanistan

(Soliman Saien), interpreted by Javeh Asefia (11:10 min)

26—Monologue Albania

(Elda Sorra), interpreted by Gazmend Rushiti (4:50 min)

27—Monologue Kosovo

(Astrit Geci), interpreted by Gazmend Rushiti (7 min)

28—Monologue Eritrea

(Kiflom Zerihun), reading approach by Julia Tieke (7:40 min, English)

II. Give a voice, comment, talk— The monologue speakers

29—“It’s worse than in the war!”

Astrit Geci on the situation in Kosovo, the Kosovars’ enthusiasm for Europe, and the notion of an entire country as home (13:10 min)

30—“I learned five German words on the boat.”

Ayad Milko on his flight from Iraq to Berlin (9:30 min)

31—“During the hearing, I asked whether there’s a rule about why some people are granted asylum and some are not.”

Ayad Milko on his time in Berlin (7:50 min)

32—“It's a new life for people who are really still interested in continuing after their situation.”

Ayham Majid Aghaon himself and the newly founded Exil Ensemble at the Gorki Theater—Part 1 (5:30 min, English)

33—“We will not do clichés.”

Ayham Majid Agha on the Exil Ensemble at the Gorki Theater—Part 2: Alice in Wonderland, expectations, multilingualism (12:30 min, English)

34—“If I were there now and had the chance to get out, I would.”

Elda Sorra comments on the Albanian monologue and the current situation in Albania (4:30 min)

35—The huge hole in the wall of the German Embassy.

Elda Sorra on her family’s escape from Tirana, 1990 (8:40 min)

36—“My situation was completely different; my crisis happened before that.”

Elen Moos on the Spanish monologue and her arrival in Berlin (2:20 min)

37— “A great deal of pressure builds up because you always have to portray yourself as perfect and not as someone who needs protection.”

Fatina Laila comments on the Syria monologue she gave voice to (5 min, Arabic)

38—German version of track 37

Interpreted by Günther Orth (5:10 min)

39—“Inside, I refused to sing for Saddam Hussein.”

Inaam Wali-Al Battat on Iraqi people’s reasons for escaping and her own decision to flee to Germany (5:40 min)

40—“My own music, that’s a mixture.”

Inaam Wali-Al Battat on her music (2:10 min)

41—“The women still struggle with the events and the incidents.”

Julia Swiech on her connection to the Polish text (3:10 min)

42—“When you are a refugee, you are not a full person.”

Kiflom Zerihun and Habtom Weldu on the Tigrinya song they sing (7:20 min, English, German, Tigrinya)

43—“I am to think for the world.”

Kiflom Zerihun on his involvement in the Eritrean war for independence, on broken dreams, and the value of education (8:20 min, English)

44—“I saw the situation live before my mind’s eye.”

Brief remarks by Soliman Saien on the Afghanistan monologue (2:10 min)

III. Between sound engineering and metaphysics

45—“Before this, a little bit of a break would be nice.”

Editing a recordingin a language one does not understand, Fetewei Tarekegn with Julia Tieke (10 min, English)

46—“Fate practically forced me to record.”

Frieder Butzmann on a path breaking lotto win and the risks of recording (6 min)

47—“A recording that is exactly like the real thing: that will never happen.”

Frieder Butzmann on recording and different modes of listening—with two brief vocal numbers at the end (8:30 min)

48—Recordare—Recording audio between the technical process and a question of life and death.

Ingo Kottkamp on what a recorder can be (8 min)
With an excerpt from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in D minor, K. 626 - III Sequence - Recordare (For Voices and Recorder Ensemble—Papalin), source: https://

49—“It’s a very difficult process until something is really recorded.”

Ingo Kottkamp on the etymology of the recorder (4 min)

50—“Listening creates an atmosphere that favors assertive speech.”

Ingo Kottkamp on the special moment of listening and the politicization of speaking and listening (3:40 min)