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Talking Culture

A Podcast of the Goethe-Institut London

Ranging from topics such as Europe, populism, sustainability or feminism, our podcast Talking Culture reflects on worldwide perspectives on contemporary discourse in culture and society. Exclusive interviews with renowned intellectuals, cultural practitioners and artists provide a fascinating insight into their work and research. You can listen to the episodes on iTunes, Spotify or on your preferred podcast platform.

All episodes are available in English.


Latest episodes

Talking Culture #4: "Why young people need to preserve Europe"

Alice Boyd, Simon Strauß Photos: Kanahaya Alam; Martin Walz Europe consists of many different stories – personal stories of different generations. In this episode, we are speaking to two young European intellectuals: British composer & theatre maker Alice Boyd and German historian & journalist Simon Strauß. What role does Europe play in your lives? What are you most afraid of post-Brexit? One of their works is integral to the project Tell Me About Europe taking place during the German EU Council Presidency 2020.

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Alice Boyd is a London and Bristol based composer, theatre maker and environmental campaigner. Her work uses the voice, everyday sounds and electronic textures to tell stories about the world around us. She is interested in the intersection between climate change and the arts, and the power that theatre and film has to communicate big issues. Her sound design in Crisis was shortlisted for #CreateCOP25, a competition for the UN’s COP25 Climate Conference in Madrid. 
She is also exploring other aspects of our relationship with the environment through collaborations with writers and other sound artists, on the topics of lithium mining in Bolivia, communication between trees and the importance of urban green space for our mental health. Germination, an audio piece in collaboration with non-fiction writer Laura Grace Simpkins has been selected for Louder Than The Storm’s ‘Climate Intersectionality exhibition 2020. 
As co-artistic director of Alan and Ron, a new climate comedy duo, she took their foley show Two Super Super Hot Men to VAULT Festival 2020. She is also a company member of Poltergeist and is currently involved in their show Art Heist as a deviser, performer and sound artist. The show went to Latitude Festival, Underbelly at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and New Diorama Theatre.
In 2019, she founded Staging Change a performer-led organisation, which aims to improve the environmental sustainability of the theatre and performance industry. Their network of theatre makers, venues and organisations now includes over 250 members, including Pleasance, Underbelly and National Theatre Wales.
Born 1988 in Berlin, studies in classics and history in Basel, Poitiers and Cambridge, while working as a freelance journalist for the Basler Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In addition, internships and guest dramaturgy at the theatre and co-organiser of the "Junge Salon" (tr. young salon) in Berlin. PhD at the Humboldt University of Berlin, which he finished in 2016 with the dissertation "From Mommsen to Gelzer: Concepts of Roman-Republican society in 'constitutional law' and 'nobiles'".

Since October 2016, editor in the literary and arts section and publication of his first debut narrative Seven Nights. On the board for the organisation Arbeit an Europa since 2018 and initiator of the project European Archive of Voices. His book Römische Tage was published in 2019.    

Talking Culture #3: "Why women may hold the keys to a sustainable future"

Iwona Blazwick Photo: Christa Holka Shipping works of art, frequent international travel or single-use exhibition materials makes sustainability a pressing issue in the art world. How are female leaders using their voice to drive a sustainable future both within and outside the sector? In the third episode, Iwona Blazwick talks about sustainability in the art and cultural world. The director of the Whitechapel Gallery has also been participating in the Goethe-Institut’s Women in Culture Network.

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Iwona Blazwick has been Director of the Whitechapel Gallery, London since 2001 and is a curator, critic and lecturer; formerly at Tate Modern and London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) as well as being an independent curator in Europe and Japan.

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 #2: "Why theatre matters right now"

Kris Nelson Photo: Sharron Wallace Covid-19 is only one of the most recent challenges for theatres and festivals worldwide. The rise of right-wing parties has created mistrust and misunderstanding towards the sector in many countries. Why does theatre matter right now? In the second episode, we are speaking to Kris Nelson. The Artistic Director and CEO at LIFT and the Goethe-Institut London invited a number of theatre and festival directors to the first workshop of Dramatic Episodes.

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Kris Nelson is Artistic Director and CEO of LIFT, the London International Festival of Theatre. He was Festival Director of Dublin Fringe Festival from 2013 until 2017.

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.

Talking Culture #1: "Why the Germans do it Better"

John Kampfner Brady Lecture Foto © Goethe-Institut/ Pau Ros The Germans do it better, claims author and broadcaster John Kampfner. According to him, Germany confronts the challenges of the contemporary world more effectively than others - unlike ‘Brexit Britain’ and Trump’s America. In the first episode, we are presenting a lecture by Kampfner who focused on his forthcoming book provocatively titled Why the Germans Do It Better. Lessons from a Grown Up Country. The event took place on 4 December 2019.

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John Kampfner is an award winning author, broadcaster, commentator and force in the UK creative sector. He was Chief Political Correspondent at the Financial Times, political commentator for the BBC's Today programme, and editor of the New Statesman, regularly contributing to British and international media. He established the Creative Industries Federation in 2014 and was its CEO for five years. John Kampfner was also the founder Chair of Turner Contemporary, one of the UK's most successful art galleries.

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.