By Doro Zinn
"I am nothing of what you are imagining, and much more than you can even imagine" - Coco, 2017
Since the 1960s, Germany has recruited so-called ‚Gastarbeiter‘ (guest workers), who were meant to stay only for a few years, work hard in blue-collar jobs and then return to their countries of origin. Many stayed and built a life in Germany. I met Leila, Coco, Mohammed and İlhan in 2016 and we decided that we would collaborate on telling their stories. They live in Berlin, between Kottbusser Tor and the tower blocks on the city’s outskirts, gentrification and social benefits, Hip Hop and religious traditions. Leila, Coco, Ilhan and Mo are the children of Muslim migrants from Turkey, Jordan and Palestine and belong to the first generation that was born and raised in Germany.
Their stories tell of the past and the present, of places of (imagined) existence, of inner and outer struggles, of growing up and ultimately of their search for their identity. What unites them is their struggle to meet different expectations, by society, their immediate environment and themselves. They question the narratives society and media use towards immigrants and the following generations and break them up in a very personal way.