Talking Culture #15: Lives of Objects: Gala Porras-Kim and James Webb
We are currently thinking of Practising Freedom as Phase 1 of an even bigger project, which we have launched called Lives of Objects. Working with cultural practitioners, researchers, museum professionals, and existing collaborative initiatives, we have envisioned Lives of Objects to consist of workshops, residencies, panel discussions, lectures, podcasts, artistic interventions and exhibitions.
This is the first podcast episode of the Lives of Objects series. For it, we invited eminent artists Gala Porras-Kim and James Webb to discuss the ways in which we think about the lives of objects through an artistic lens. The two have been breaking boundaries within their own disciplines to rethink how we present museological objects and artefacts, particularly those with historical, socio-political and spiritual importance.
The Lives of Objects and Practicing Freedom projects were realised in collaboration with the British Council.
In 2023, in addition to CAAC, she is exhibiting her work at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo de México (MUAC). Gala Porras-Kim was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2019) and an artist-in-residence at the Getty Research Institute (2020-2022).
Webb has had solo exhibitions at, amongst others, the Art Institute of Chicago, USA, 2018; SPACES, Cleveland, USA, 2018; Norrtälje Konsthall, Norrtälje, Sweden, 2018; Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France, 2016 and 2019; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, United Kingdom, 2016; Hordaland Kunstsenter, Bergen, Norway, 2015; blank projects, Cape Town, South Africa, 2014, 2016, and 2020; CentroCentro, Madrid, Spain, 2013; Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2012; and mac, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 2010.
Major group exhibitions include the 9th and 16th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2007, 2022), 13th Biennial of Dakar (2018), 4th Prospect Triennial of New Orleans (2017), Documenta 14 (2017), 13th Biennial of Sharjah (2017), 12th Bienal de la Habana (2015), 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013), and the 3rd Marrakech Biennale (2009). Other notable group shows include those at spaces such as MONA FOMA, Australia; Wanås Konst and Historiska, Sweden; MAXXI Roma, Italy; Darat al Funun, Jordan; Théâtre Graslin, France; and the Tate Modern, London.
Talking Culture #14: Beyond Hearing
To celebrate 60 years of the Goethe-Institut London, we held three Goethe Annual Lectures in 2022. For our third GAL, we invited Dr Matthew Herbert for his talk "Beyond Hearing". Through a series of extraordinary sound recordings, he pushed us to hear further than we might have thought possible, and asked the question: “How can systemic listening lead to meaningful action?” The talk was moderated by Ella Finer, whose work in sound and performance spans writing, composing, and curating with a particular interest in how women’s voices take up space; how bodies acoustically disrupt, challenge, or change occupations of space.
He has been sampled by J Dilla for Slum Village and another of his pieces (Café de Flore) inspired a movie by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club). He has produced other artists such as Roisin Murphy, The Invisible, Micachu and Merz and released some of these works alongside others on his own label – Accidental Records. He also set up NX records with Goldsmiths University to support the release of music from alumni and others. Notable collaborators have included chef Heston Blumenthal, playwrights Caryl Churchill and Duncan Macmillan, theatre director Lyndsey Turner, musician Arto Lindsay and writer Will Self.
But he is most known for working with sound, turning ordinary or so-called found sound into electronic music. His most celebrated work ONE PIG followed the life of a pig from birth to plate and beyond. He is relaunching an online Museum of Sound and is the creative director of the new Radiophonic Workshop for the BBC. His debut play The Hush was performed at the National Theatre, his debut opera The Crackle at the Royal Opera House and he continues to work on projects for the screen as well as the stage. His debut book called The Music was published in 2018.
Talking Culture #13: The Culture of Artificial Intelligence
To celebrate 60 years of the Goethe-Institut London, we held three Goethe Annual Lectures in 2022. For our second GAL, we invited Professor Mercedes Bunz to discuss “The Culture of Artificial Intelligence”. In her talk, she explores the particular power of AI systems using work from contemporary artists to reveal the human misunderstanding regarding AI. The talk was moderated by Eva Jäger, curator of Arts Technologies at the Serpentine.
TALKING CULTURE #12: POLITICS - WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
As German writer Mithu Sanyal confirms, it's a preconceived idea that love and politics don't go together. They are in fact polar opposites. Moreover, love has become a dirty word in politics. We can talk on social media about sex till the cows come home, but love, it's too cute, too lovey-dovey, and too unpolitical.
But this has not always been the case. Most movements for social justice had a love of ethics. Gandhi placed love at the centre of his campaign to free India. Martin Luther King preached and practiced love. And James Baldwin called for a Love of Politics. What has happened to marginalise love in the political discourse and what can politics informed by love look like?
In light of recent events, a discussion about the role of love in our world seems more relevant than ever before. But this isn’t the romantic notion of love we are more commonly familiar with, it’s the love that cultural scientist and journalist Mithu Sanyal claims is sorely lacking in our world. A political love. It's the absence of this love that she believes is responsible for so much social injustice and inequality.
Talking Culture #11: How can art help us understand quantum computing?
What exactly is a quantum computer? Have you ever wondered what all the media hype is about or how quantum computing may impact our everyday lives? In this episode, we talk to quantum expert Emily Haworth, curator Lucy Rose Sollitt and Professor Eduardo Miranda to learn about quantum technologies and the arts. Over the coming weeks, the Goethe-Institut will explore these questions and more under the umbrella of a new project and international events series called ‘Living in a Quantum State’. For more information and all event listings, see
Goethe.de/quantum or follow @livinginaquantumstate on Instagram.
Lucy’s work includes writing, curation, strategy and policy development - for organisations ranging from FACT, Serpentine Galleries and Rhizome to the Goethe Institut, DACS, Tate, Arts Council England and UK government. Lucy regularly teaches and participates in panel discussions, for example, at V&A, QUAD, Christie’s and the RCA.
Lucy’s approach is artist centred. She enjoys working as an artist mentor for SPACE Studios alongside her other projects.
Talking Culture #10: How we wanted to live
Imagine life beyond crises. A world beyond catastrophe, wars and climate crisis. How would you like to live? And now think ahead to 2050. Looking back on your present self, how would you have wanted to have lived? In this episode we talk to curator and project developer Isabel Raabe of Talking Objects Lab and curator and dance dramaturg Thomas Schaupp, one half of the curatorial team behind Goethe Morph* Iceland: How we always wanted to have lived.
Isabel Raabe is part of the curatorial team of Talking Objects Lab together with Mahret Ifeoma Kupka, Malick Ndiay (Musée Théodore Monod, Senegal), Njoki Ngumi (The Nest Collective, Kenya) and Chao Tayiana Maina (African Digital Heritage, Kenya).
Thomas Schaupp is part of the curatorial team of Goethe Morph* Iceland.
Talking Culture #9: Contexts of injustice - Dismantling colonial legacies from Berlin to London
Author and curator Dan Hicks, best known for his book The Brutish Museums (2020), takes stock of the debate around the enduring legacies of empire in our museums, universities and society at large. In this episode, he talks about recent events in Europe and North America, from removing statues and un-naming buildings to returning artefacts from colonial museums. As a society how can we make amends for the past? And what are the next steps for upholding antiracism in the future?
Talking Culture #8: Clubbing and culture in times of Covid
The Goethe-Institut London and the Somerset House Studios are collaborating to establish a new, international artist residency programme to support a Germany-based artist working at the intersection of music, art and technology. For the inaugural edition from October 2021 onwards, we invited Berlin-based but Texas-born DJ, writer and performer Juliana Huxtable. It's time to discuss her artistic influences, visions and opinions on clubbing in a global pandemic.
Her sets skillfully deploy the notion of sampling, and re-blogging as DJ strategies, ecstatically mixing an array of influences that frolic at the boundary of genre intuition and experimentation. At once an assertion of freedom and an ode to the evolutionary structure of electronic music subcultures, she aspires to the sublime in what can often only be described as a witchcraft seance behind the decks on stage.
Talking Culture #7: "A greener infrastructure for a sustainable metropolis"
Artist Natalie Taylor, architecture and design collective Urban Radicals and landscape architect Adam Harris talk about their SouthKenGreenTrail installations: "Foodbank for Pollinators" in Prince's Gardens and "Windflower" on Exhibition Road were both envisioned to bring greener infrastructure and more sustainability to London. Get an exclusive insight into their creative and sustainable ideas, the productive thinking behind them and the process of conception and realisation of the two installations.
Talking Culture #6: "Notes from a Grown Up Country"
In the summer of 2020, British author and broadcaster John Kampfner released a new book with a provocative title Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country. In this episode, we share his 2019 Brady Lecture with the same title: Why the Germans Do it Better. And yes, the title made us a bit uncomfortable too. But don’t worry, this isn’t an episode about one nation being superior to any others. It's about what democratic countries in the West can learn from a unified Germany that they helped to create.
His previous five books include the best-selling Blair’s Wars (2003) and Freedom For Sale (2009), which was short-listed for the Orwell Prize. Kampfner is a Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and adviser to the Frankfurt Book Fair. He presents the podcast series Pale, Male and Stale with the comedian Shazia Mirza which looks at politics and identity.
His forthcoming book is provocatively titled Why the Germans Do It Better. Lessons from a Grown Up Country (to be published in July 2020). When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, John Kampfner was working as the East Berlin correspondent of the Telegraph. Thirty years later, he finds a country transformed. Germany, for sure, faces problems: the social effects of the refugee influx, the rise of the AfD, a slowing economy, an ageing population, worsening infrastructure and a continued timidity in foreign affairs. Yet Kampfner juxtaposes contemporary Germany with the mayhem of 'Brexit Britain' and Trump's America and argues that its political maturity enables it to confront the challenges of the contemporary world better than others.
Talking Culture #5: "What Does it Mean to Be European?“
With Brexit in the rearview, the decades-long discussion and debate about the role and purpose of the European Union has taken on a new urgency. In this episode, we ask two young intellectuals–one from the UK and one from Germany–to reflect on what Europe means to them. Alice Boyd is a composer, theatre-maker and environmental campaigner from the UK. Simon Strauß is a German historian, writer and journalist. Both were born into the European Union and have used their work to think critically about what it means now and what it can mean.
Alice Boyd | Composer, sound designer, theatre maker, environmental campaigner
He studied antiquity and history at the university of Basel, the university of Poitiers and the university of Cambridge.
In 2017 he published his first book "Seven Nights" and in summer 2019 hist second one "Romain Days". 2020 he was responsible for the publication of the theater piece collection "Spielplan-Änderung".
He is a founding member and board director of the association "Arbeit an Europa e.V." and is also a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in the section Performing Arts.
Simon Strauß @ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Talking Culture #4: "Leading the Art World Towards Sustainability"
Art has the power to change the world by highlighting critical issues, but what responsibility does the art world have to make their own changes and take inventory of internal practices that are unsustainable or inequitable, to address the environmental cost of putting on exhibitions? In this episode, Iwona Blazwick, Director of the renowned Whitechapel Gallery in East London, grapples with these questions on the future of museums and galleries.
Recent curatorial projects include William Kentridge: Thick Time (2016), Thomas Ruff Photographs 1979-2017 (2017), Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World (2018) and Michael Rakowitz (2019) at the Whitechapel Gallery and Carlos Bunga: The Architecture of Life at MAAT, Lisbon (2019), The Palace at 4am, a group show at the Archaeological Museum Mykonos (2019) and Sight, a solo show with Antony Gormley and the Neon Foundation on the Island of Delos (2019).
Iwona Blazwick has written monographs and articles on many contemporary artists, published extensively on themes and movements in modern and contemporary art, exhibition histories and art institutions and is series editor of the Whitechapel Gallery/MIT Documents of Contemporary Art.
Talking Culture #3: "'Some Kind of Tomorrow': Honoring the Visions of Black Feminist Creative Authors "
The creative writing of Black feminist authors has revolutionary potential. It challenges dominant assumptions and expands the horizons of the current literary audience. In this episode, activist and author Sharon Dodua Otoo honours her literary ancestors and mentors, condemns the racist structures that deprived them of deserved praise during their lifetimes, and explores how Black feminist creative writing can move our society forward.
Talking Culture #2: "Why Artists are Working with Blockchain to Reinvent the Arts"
Now, as the world is facing a new economic crisis, how could the arts and civil society benefit from blockchain technologies? Hear from artists, curators, technologists and researchers who are using blockchain to revolutionise their way of working. This episode features Ruth Catlow, artistic director of Furtherfield, Ben Vickers, CTO at the Serpentine Galleries, and artist collectives from Berlin to Moscow who are part of the DAOWO Global Initiative.
Episode #1: "Why Theatre Matters More Than Ever"
© Sharron Wallace
One month into the first lockdown of 2020, we called Kris Nelson, Artistic Director and CEO at LIFT: the London International Festival of Theatre to find out how theatres and their people were surviving. In this episode, we’re returning to that conversation because it captures a unique moment in the pandemic upheaval, and we’re calling Kris once again – a year later – to find out what has changed and how his predictions for theatre have shifted.
Home in Canada, Kris Nelson founded the performing arts agency Antonym where he represented Theatre Replacement, Public Recordings and 2boys.tv. He was a producer and Encounters Curator for Magnetic North Festival and initiated and co-curated a variety of platforms devoted to artist touring such as PushOFF.