A Futures Podcast from the Goethe-Institut London
Talking Culture

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Talking Culture is a platform for thought-provoking discussions about the future of Europe, the UK, and the world. Through fascinating interviews with thinkers and doers in the arts and culture sector, this show investigates how creative fields are emerging from the tumultuous present into the future. What role will culture play in a post-Brexit, post-COVID-19, post-colonial world? And how can it contribute to a future that prioritises sustainability, collaboration, diversity, and inclusion? From the Goethe-Institut London, this is a podcast about the critical role and value that arts and culture have in our societies.


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Talking Culture #7: "A greener infrastructure for a sustainable metropolis"

EP 6 John Kampfner © John Kampfner Natalie Taylor (artist), Urban Radicals (architecture & design collective consisting of architect Nasios Varnavas and designer Era Savvides) and landscape architect Adam Harris talk together 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"

EP 6 John Kampfner © John Kampfner 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.

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.

Talking Culture #5: „What Does it Mean to Be European?“

EP 5 What Does it Mean to Be European © Simon Strauß / Alice Boyd 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 is a London and Bristol based composer, sound designer, theatre maker and environmental campaigner. Her work uses the voice, everyday sounds and electronic textures to tell stories about the world around us. She has been selected as one of Sound and Music’s New Voices composers for 2020, supported by Arts Council England, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the PRS Foundation.

Alice Boyd | Composer, sound designer, theatre maker, environmental campaigner

Simon Strauß ist a German author, theater critic and historian.
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"

The number 4 over the photo of podcast participant Iwona Blazwick Photo: Christa Holka 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.

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 #3: "'Some Kind of Tomorrow': Honoring the Visions of Black Feminist Creative Authors "

The number 3 over the photo of podcast participant Sharon Dodua Otoo © Ralf Steinberger 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.

Sharon Dodua Otoo (*1972 in London) is an author and a political activist. She writes prose and essays and is editor of the English-language book series “Witnessed” (edition assemblage). In 2017 her first novellas “the things i am thinking while smiling politely“ and “Synchronicity” were published in German translation by S. Fischer Verlag. Otoo won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2016 with the text “Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin”. In 2020 her inaugural speech at the Festival of German Language Literature “Dürfen Schwarze Blumen Malen?” was published by Verlag Heyn. Her first novel in German “Adas Raum” was published in February 2021 by S. Fischer Verlag. Otoo is politically active with the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland e. V. and Phoenix e. V. She lives with her family in Berlin.

Talking Culture #2: "Why Artists are Working with Blockchain to Reinvent the Arts"

Collage of portrait photos of six podcast participants and the number 5. Photos: private; Skye Bougsty-Marshall (Laura Lotti) 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.

Ben Vickers is a curator, writer, publisher, technologist and luddite. He is CTO at the Serpentine Galleries in London, co-founder of Ignota Books and an initiator of the open-source monastic order unMonastery.  

Ruth Ctalow is an artist, curator and researcher of emancipatory network cultures, practices and poetics. Artistic director of Furtherfield, a not-for-profit international community hub for arts, technology and social change founded with Marc Garrett in London, in 1996. Co-editor of Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain (2017); curator of the touring exhibition New World Order (2017-18); runs the award winning DAOWO arts and blockchain lab series with Ben Vickers, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut; principal investigator for the blockchain research lab at Serpentine Galleries. Director of DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab, a Furtherfield initiative which exists to mobilise research and development by leading artists, using blockchain and web 3.0 technologies for fairer, more dynamic and connected cultural ecologies and economies. 

Dzina Zhuk is an artist and tech-politics researcher based in Moscow and Minsk. She is part of the group eeefff and Flying Cooperation. She co-organizes the annual event WORK HARD! PLAY HARD! in Minsk. Her alter-ego bitchcoin works with voice, audio, future beats and sci-fi synth. Her major interests include jeopardized interfaces; emotional effects of algorithms; non-anthropocentric view towards machine intelligence; and imaginary scenarios of the present day.

Nicolay Spesivtsev is an artist and researcher based in Moscow and Minsk. With a technical background as a computer scientist, Spesivtsev combines a critical approach to computer science that is interwoven with computational economies and queer futurism. He works with imaginations born from overlapping technological, economical, and political landscapes in present day culture. His interests include solidarity born from affective labor, critical approaches to emancipation of joy from assemblages of bodies of living subjects (human and non-human), and systems based on computation, digital decolonialism in Eastern Europe, among many others. He is part of the group eeefff and Flying Cooperation. He co-organizes the annual event WORK HARD! PLAY HARD! in Minsk.

Calum Bowden creates stories, worlds, and platforms that reimagine relations between organisms and algorithms, humans and nonhumans, the Earth and the cosmos. He co-founded Trust and Black Swan. Calum took part in the post-graduate program at the Strelka Institute, Moscow. He has an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art and a BSc in Anthropology from University College London.

Laura Lotti is a researcher investigating the relations between technological, economic and cultural systems. She is a research partner at Other Internet, where she collaboratively explores headless dynamics in networked cultures. She co-founded Black Swan and is a member of Trust.

Episode #1: "Why Theatre Matters More Than Ever"

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.
  Episode #1: „Why Theatre Matters Now More Than Ever“ © Sharron Wallace

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.