In her new graphic novel Drawn to Berlin, American comic artist Ali Fitzgerald recounts her experiences teaching comics to asylum-seekers in a Berlin refugee shelter. Drawn to Berlin combines recollections of Jewish displacement from the 1920s with contemporary debates on immigrants and asylum seekers in Germany. Her drawn vignettes show us both frightening parallels and a tentative optimism for a shared future.
Since 2015, Berlin has been the site of different waves of provisionary migration. The large-scale arrival of refugees from the Middle East to Germany has given rise to political debates and violence like that recently seen in Chemnitz. The German capital has concurrently attracted many “expats” – a privileged class of immigrants who often document their lives in the city through art, film, and prose. What happens when these two groups meet? How can we thoughtfully consider their disparate perspectives on the same city? Could these groups form political alliances that transcend Berlin’s history of division?
Yael Almog is a scholar of literature and cultural history. She earned her PhD in German studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently a Faculty Member (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) in theology at the Goethe University Frankfurt, where she directs the research project “Fictions of Return” that investigates the representations of Europe in diasporic Jewish literature. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher of intellectual history at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (2016–18) and a Faculty Member at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin (ZfL) (2014–16). Her monograph Secularism and Hermeneutics will be published with the University of Pennsylvania Press in spring 2019.
Ali Fitzgerald is a comic artist//artist//writer and a regular contributor to the New Yorker, where she currently has a monthly comic column called “America!” She has also contributed comics and drawings to New York Magazine’s The Cut, Modern Painters, the New York Times, Art-Das Kunst Magazin, and Greenpeace Magazine. From 2013 to 2016 she wrote and drew the popular webcomic “Hungover Bear and Friends” for McSweeney’s. She was a regular contributor to the arts e-magazine Art21 from 2010 to 2016, where she started the column Queer Berlin which explored the queer cultural zeitgeist in Berlin. In 2017, she was awarded the Cornish CCS fellowship at the Center for Cartoon Studies and in the Spring of 2018 she collaborated with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on a series of drawings about Magritte. Drawn to Berlin, which will be published by Fantagraphics in October 2018, is her first graphic novel.