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'Tigers eat refugees' performance ends without bloodshed

June 29, 2016

A Berlin art group planned to fly 100 refugees in from Turkey to protest entry restrictions for asylum-seekers. They also wanted to feed refugees to tigers. The flight was canceled - and the tigers didn't eat anyone.

'Fressen Not und Spiele' project by the Center for Political Beauty in Berlin, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Gambarini
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Gambarini

The Center for Political Beauty, a Berlin art collective known for its provocative actions blending theater and political activism, had threatened to stage the devouring of refugees by tigers in Berlin.

They had announced this would take place if the government were to forbid the entry of 100 Syrian asylum-seekers. The collective had planned to illegally fly them in to Berlin from Izmir, Turkey, on Tuesday (28.06.2016), on a specially chartered plane.

After the flight was canceled by the airline AirBerlin on Tuesday morning, the tiger feeding was scheduled for that same evening at the Gorki Theater in Berlin.

The art collective had claimed to have already found at least one refugee ready to be devoured, when they launched their performance 12 days earlier. They tried to recruit more volunteers through the campaign's website.

No man-eating in the end

Syrian actress May Skaf, part of the 'Fressen Not und Spiele' project by the Center for Political Beauty in Berlin, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen
Syrian actress May Skaf played the role of the refugee who was ready to sacrifice herselfImage: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Jensen

The refugee who was allegedly ready to sacrifice herself was the Syrian actress May Skaf. Instead of jumping in the cage, she delivered a dramatic speech: "Of what use would be my cries amidst the unheard calls for help at night at sea?" she said in tears.

Through this unusual campaign, the Center for Political Beauty said it wanted to draw attention to uniting families by finding safe ways to bring refugees into Germany, instead of letting them take the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

Provocative, political art

The collective Center for Political Beauty is known for staging actions that grab the attention of the media.

In June 2015, they organized a reburial in Berlinof the exhumed body of a Syrian woman who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean. The campaign was called "The Dead are Coming."

For the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the collective stole crosses commemorating those who died trying to cross the former Berlin Wall and placed them on the EU's border with Africa.

Earlier this month, the Center for Political Beauty was awarded a Bobs, DW's prize for online activism, in the Arts and Culture category.

eg/kbm (dpa, epd)