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  • Writer's pictureArmiel Chandler

Culture Spotlight Featuring Olad Aden (Europe Edition)

Olad Aden is an African-German-American Street Social Worker, Photographer, and Videographer based in Berlin, Germany. In this capacity, he has initiated and facilitated a number of youth exchange programs like "The BronxBerlinConnection“. Together with a group of Social Workers and teaching artists he has been conducting the project „ZwischenWelten“ in the youth detention facility Berlin for the last five years. In addition, he co-curated a number of cultural projects. In 2010 he co-curated "Translating Hip Hop“ which took place in Manila, Bogota, Beirut, Nairobi, and Berlin for the House of World Cultures in Berlin. He co-initiated and co-curated "SPOKEN WOR:L:DS", a literature/rap project between Berlin and Nairobi for the Literatur Werkstatt-Berlin and a project called DExZA, a poetry/rap/music performance exchange program between Johannesburg and Berlin funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation/The Goethe Institut and the German Consulate in South Africa. Together with an amazing group of artists he curated, organized, and presented the project "Be-troit" in Detroit and Berlin. He currently works on a full-length documentary about the Berlin-based street outreach project „Gangway“ which celebrates its 30 year anniversary this year. His photography was recently featured in the exhibition „Counter-Narratives“ in Berlin. He ́s currently working on a number of new ideas and upcoming projects.

Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival in Europe ? Experiencing a Film Festival entirely dedicated to the culture I love was amazing. Watching the other films, getting insight into some of the work which is being conducted in other parts of the world was inspiring and reminded me that I am part of a global culture that is indeed connected. Especially in these crazy times that is something that feels even more important than ever right now. 

Why are stories from the culture important? It is so important to hear different stories from the culture, a culture that is so often gives the viewer an opportunity to hear directly from those who are willing to share their experiences, their struggles, successes, dreams, and visions. The content I was able to see was well done and aesthetically beautiful.

What projects are you working on now? I am currently working on GangwayBeatz vol. 5 which reaches out to young up and coming, sometimes very inexperienced youths from all over the city of Berlin who would like to be MC´s one day. We offer creative writing workshops, hip hop education workshops, we run two studios, we run beat production workshops, we teach youths how to work in studio settings (logic, etc) and we offer videography/video editing workshops. In approx. one year we will release our latest album via our label with youths from all corners of the city. All of the workshops are available for all of the youths but they are not mandatory. Hopefully, at the end of the process, most songs will have been produced, mixed, and mastered and the videos shot and edited by the youths themselves.

I am also working on our project with the youth detention facility "ZwischenWelten" (in between worlds) with incarcerated youths as well as workshops outside of the detention facility with recently released youths. We are also currently working on an EP.

The BronxBerlinConnection is slated to return back to NYC in Nov. with 20 youths though Corona might force us to postpone. The Berlin visit from youths from The Door (NYC) in the spring was obviously canceled.

Our staff exchange in Chicago and Detroit for Sept. has already been postponed.

In addition my colleague and take care of all of the Social Work needs of our young participants. Whether we share a cup of tee, visit them in Juvi or accompany them to court appointments.

There are several other projects in a holding pattern right now due to obvious reasons.

I am also working on two movie projects at the moment.

Why do you think the Harlem film house and Hip Hop Film Festival Europe is important? The Harlem Film House and the Hip Hop Film Festival are an important platform for many. You create opportunities for many to step out of the shadows and earn some well-deserved recognition for work that at least in some cases has gone way too unnoticed.

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