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Key Visual: Lockdown Lessons Photo (detail): © John Simitopoulos

Visions of a Post-Pandemic Future
Lockdown Lessons

The world is experiencing the COVID-19 virus due to its global nature and the time lags between outbreaks of the pandemic at once directly and indirectly as it appears in multiple waves. Because of this, one question has been posed since the beginning: What lessons can we learn from this catastrophe with regard to social, technological, postcolonial and civil society concerns?

With a presence in nearly a hundred countries and extensive local networks, the Goethe-Institut is well placed to initiate an intellectual exchange about this question, which concerns the whole world. Culture, in the broad sense, can help as an initiator of possible changes of course in society. At a time when policymaking is mostly reacting to the impact of events as they unfold, culture can help by drawing outlines for the future, thereby focussing on the big picture in different areas of public life.
The project Lockdown Lessons covers five such areas, which are researched and investigated in separate modules. The implementation of the project takes place at different places of the Goethe-Institute around the world.
The module “Democracy” will look into the pandemic’s repercussions on systems of government in general and on the present state of democracy in particular. It asks how much solidarity is needed in times of crisis to keep societies from imploding into antagonistic camps. Contributions to this question will be coming from India, Greece, Germany and the USA.
The related aspect of agency and equality as a corrective to hierarchical structures and centralised control is covered in the module “Technological Change”. The Goethe-Institut has co-founded a transnational cooperation network in the arts and blockchain technologies called the Decentralised Autonomous Organisation With Others (DAOWO) programme. The members of the network are leading international art and technology institutions and communities in cities like Berlin, Hong Kong, Minsk, Moscow, Johannesburg and London.
The module “Science and Research”, under the lead of the Goethe-Institut Brussels, asks why the reaction to the pandemic was rather rapid and robust, compared to the sluggish response to climate change.
The module “Creative Industries”, for its part, will explore new opportunities and present innovative products and solutions from the African continent in reaction to the pandemic. It will take place in Windhoek, Namibia.
The module “Proximity and Distance” addresses socially critical questions in Brazil, India, Korea and Germany in the form of editorial contributions revolving around these antipodean terms.
In search for answers to these various questions different approaches will be used, which include discursive and written pieces, a film and other artistic means. Lockdown Lessons is an extension of last year's Danachgedanken project, in which about a hundred intellectuals and artists in fifty different countries were asked to share their thoughts on the pandemic and its potential social consequences.