Changing perspectives through media representation: refugee.tv

Ayad Salim, interviewed by Dilara Akarçeşme

Did you also work with migrants who have been living in Salzburg for a longer period of time? Where they also a target audience?

Yes, they were a target group, but less so than the local Austrian society whom we really aimed for. Many immigrants were active, and they participated in our project because they believed in our cause. They also wanted this project to be successful. We exchanged many ideas. The reason for our cooperation was that our work was going to affect the immigrants here as well: society would also change in how they deal with them, too. That’s why they also felt the importance of this project and why they were active.

For example, when we wanted some ideas and we needed some families to shoot with, they were active and gave us all the tools. They gave us access to many things in their lives and stories of their families and the possibility to shoot with them. But our first aim was Austrian society. Then came the immigrants. They were also somehow hidden crew members of regufee.tv as supporters. That was really nice.

 

The project was successful, you grew and had four offices. You mentioned, though, that you also wanted to become a channel and it did not work out. What were the reasons for this?

We do not know either. Maybe the head crew was separated. Maybe everyone had other things to do. A project like this needs a budget. At first, we got our budget from the government and some other sources, but we needed more. We were also looking for jobs at the same time, since refugee.tv was not our job – it was voluntary. We just occasionally got some money to cover our basic needs to do reports. My aim at that time was just to tell people our stories. I also published my story from Turkey to here on a blog called fish+fleisch. It was really very dangerous and eventful – it took 45 days in the middle of winter, from December 1st in 2014 until the 15th of January 2015, walking from Turkey to here. We were lost in the woods for three months with all the snow. It was really horrible.

But we did not have much contact with the other offices. David and Johannes were the coordinators. We had one common event in Salzburg with the office in Linz and Vienna. We had a workshop at refugee.tv media school and an event with the refugee.tv support band. In the second year, we did some magazines and reports but then it stopped. Also, everybody was busy with their own lives and work. One person from the crew left Austria and went to Turkey. Now, I am working on something else. Recently, I established an Arabic cultural Verein*1 *(1) in Salzburg. I have been working on it since 2018. Now it is official. We did the official opening on the 16th of November in 2019.

 

Verein means ‘association’ or ‘club’ in German. These types of organizations are essential for public life and civil society in Austria. Usually they are formed by people who commit themselves to a specific common activity or cause and are run by a specified member structure and statutes.

Servus means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in German and is commonly used in parts of southern Germany and in Austria.

‘Bike kitchen’

Ausländer means ‘foreigner’ or ‘alien’ in German. The word is deliberately kept in German, since it is a significant keyword used in discourses of belonging in German-speaking countries (for example, see https://igkultur.at/artikel/der-auslaender-und-seine-erziehung). In the meantime, migrants from the second or third generation have also critically appropriated the term Ausländer for themselves in various contexts.

‘Warehouse’

‘Cellar’ or ‘basement’

Dilara Akarçeşme, Ayad Salim (2020): Changing perspectives through media representation: refugee.tv. Ayad Salim, interviewed by Dilara Akarçeşme. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #11 , https://www.p-art-icipate.net/changing-perspectives-through-media-representation-refugee-tv/