Together with its partners, the Federal Foreign Office presented the entire spectrum of its cultural relations and educational activities in prominent locations in Berlin’s cultural scene, ranging from the Humboldt Forum, through the Maxim Gorki Theatre, to the silent green Kulturquartier in the district of Wedding. It was a night of experiences, emotion and discussion of what culture and education can do to counteract the increasing scepticism towards Europe, what cultural relations policy is doing to offer protection and prospects to persecuted academics and artists and to what degree artificial intelligence will shape our society and therefore also foreign (cultural relations) policy.
Open spaces in civil society: the task of politics and culture
Against the backdrop of increasing national introversion in Europe and beyond, the events focused on the question of what politics and culture need to do to preserve and expand open spaces outside the realm of politics in which the arts, culture, science and the media can thrive.
For example, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy Michelle Müntefering, star architect Sir David Chipperfield and Artistic Director of the Maxim Gorki Theatre Shermin Langhoff discussed the question “How national are we?” at Umspannwerk Alexanderplatz with Tagesspiegel Editor-in-Chief Stephan Andreas Casdorff. The Ramal Quartet - comprising Syrian scholarship holders from the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin - provided the musical accompaniment.
Likewise, no words were minced at the event “Europe at a crossroads” at Telefónica Basecamp, where panellists including Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn and State Secretary at the Federal Foreign Office Walter Lindner joined 200 guests to discuss the state of the EU in the age of Brexit and Trump. At the same time, in the Gorki Studio Turkish author Murat Mahmutyazıcıoğlu read excerpts from the diary he had written during his military service in Turkey as part of the event “There’s a while to go until sunrise”.
At Savvy Contemporary in the disused crematorium in the district of Wedding, readings and performances centred around the issue of homeland and identity, featuring prominent ethnologist Arjun Appadurai, among others. Visitors to the German Archaelogical Institute’s event “The world in flux - Identity 4.0” at the Neue Bauakademie had the opportunity to learn how much identities are shaped by the arts and culture.
At the same time, the digital conference re:publica was held in the Atrium of the Federal Foreign Office, where prominent authors, politicians and diplomats gathered to discuss the diverse effects of artificial intelligence, one of the most pressing issues of our day not least for cultural relations and education policy.
Three art presentations - forging ties across borders
Those in search of visual arts had the option of three locations: the daadgalerie and the ifa Galerie in the district of Mitte as well as the Federal Foreign Office’s roof studio looking over the roofs of Berlin, where the current AArtist in residence, scholarship holder Yvon Chabrowski, presented works on manipulation strategies in omnipresent media images.
Border-transcending art could be seen on the walls of Umspannwerk Alexanderplatz, where the artists from Digital Calligraffiti, through their projected images, established a live connection between Berlin and Durban, South Africa, for a night in the presence of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
We would like to thank this year’s partner organisations: Artists-in-Berlin Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service, Barenboim-Said Academy, Gallery Association of Berlin, German Archaeological Institute, Goethe-Institut, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Humboldt-Forum, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), Maxim Gorki Theatre, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Public Art Lab, re:publica GmbH, Savvy Contemporary, Tagesspiegel, Traduki and Villa Aurora/Thomas Mann House.