Reclaiming Public Space. Culture between Public and Digital Spheres
The starting point for our considerations is the variety of youth and citizens' revolts over the past two years. From Cairo, London, Madrid, Moscow and New York to Tel Aviv and Tunis it was primarily young, well-educated people who took to the streets.
The reclamation of public space that can be observed in these protests – which are frequently dubbed "social media revolutions" – raises the question as to the altered understanding of the role and function of public space, and how it is designed physically or digitally in each case.
But doesn't the fact that the media environment has gained strength and the digital environment has come into existence demonstrate that the public space was a metaphor that actually describes an abstract interrelationship between people who are communicating? And which aspect of communication attracts particular attention, and under what circumstances?
Formal opening of the conference19.00
President of the Akademie der Künste
President of the Goethe-Institut
Monika Grütters, MdB
Chair of the Committee on Cultural and Media Affairs in the German Parliament
The opening lecture "Full Circle" will be held by Bahia Shehab
art historian, designer and artist, Cairo
Foyer 6:00 und 10.00
The American video artist Blake Shaw presents his work "Videopainting", in which he creates new virtual meeting places through a collage of overlapping portraits.
Panel (a): Networking and hope10:00–12:00
The use of new media technology for non-hierarchical discussion in the form of online dialogue is a source of great hope for political and cultural participation. This particularly applies to people who – because of their financial, political and cultural circumstances – have until now barely had the opportunity to be active in a public forum or to be taken seriously.
Why do media savvies expose themselves to danger by occupying central public places when the future of social movements does seem to be in the digital sphere? How does spatiotemporal activity interrelate with electronic communication? What forms of artistic activity have been the outcome? Do protest movements create their own cultures?
Artist, designer, art historian and associate professor at the American University of Cairo
Political scientist at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research
Journalist and author, Berlin
Art historian and curator, Berlin and Vilnius
Moderation: Johannes Odenthal
Director of Programming of the Akademie der Künste
Panel (b): Communication structures and power11:30–12:30
Communicative circumstances characterise societies more significantly than property or space-related conditions. Controlling and regulating them is the exertion and consolidation of power.
How do authoritarian regimes – but also democratic societies – handle the potential and risks of digitally-based media? How do those in power cope with "space" in both senses of the word? What backlash does that provoke? What artistic reactions does this cause, and what are the cultural consequences?
Activist at the Egyptian non-profit media collective Mosireen, Cairo
Country Director of the petition platform change.org in Spain, Madrid
Academic and blogger, professor of ethics in political management and society at the University of Duisburg-Essen
Philosopher, professor of media theory and media studies at the University of Potsdam
Moderation: Stephan Wackwitz
Director of the Goethe-Institut Georgia
Panel (c): Imagery of the space14:00–15:00
The "public space" is not only a value that can be localised physically. Just like the internet, it also serves as a metaphor for interrelationships – for exclusion and belonging. Are diverse cultural circumstances and concepts of public space leading to specific pre-conceptions of public spaces and of the new digital environment we live in, and strategies to deal with them?
And how are artists involved in these spaces? What do both types of space mean for them?
Media theorist, philosopher and translator, academic at the University of Insbruck
Author, publicist and critic
Actor, playwright and visual artist, Beirut and Berlin
Mike van Graan
Playwright and cultural activist, Cape Town
Moderation: Berthold Franke
Director of the Goethe-Institut Belgium
Panel (d): Responsibility and cultural practice15:30–16:30
The phenomenon is not without consequence to the political self-image of cultural institutions working internationally. What is the ideal way to accompany such processes in cultural practice? How can cultural institutions react adequately to a changing concept of "public space"? How can and should we involve ourselves in these spaces?
Secretary-General of the Goethe-Institut, München
Bernd M. Scherer
Director of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
Secretary-General of the Academy of the Arts of the World, Köln
Moderation: Thilo Kößler
Deutschlandfunk, head of department "Background"
Pixelated Revolution – A non-academic lecture by Rabih Mroué
Black Box, Akademie der Künste