Carte Blanche

Amman © Lukáš Houdek

Three Goethe-Instituts from North Africa and the Middle East have been invited by three Goethe-Instituts from Central and Eastern Europe to develop cultural programmes together:

Beirut > Bratislava
Cairo > Vilnius
Amman > Prague

The world is growing together. Events taking place at a given location are seldom limited to it in their effects. In the same way that the internet suggests a feeling of global simultaneity, we feel profound political, economic and cultural changes taking place well beyond national borders. This new, unexpectedly sudden confrontation with the phenomenon of globalisation has not remained without consequences. Economic and financial crises as well as totalitarian regime changes and wars taking place in close proximity of each other have caused migration flows to Europe to increase. This intensifies tendencies towards surveillance, renationalisation and populism. Anti-European and ethnocentric movements and parties have been making political and institutional inroads. On top of that, they have also succeeded in dominating the political and media landscape by stirring up fears.

The only way to counter these immunological reactions by entire countries and defend an open and democratic society is through direct encounters between people. New forms of action and alliances are required. Because right now there is a deficit in positive moments of cultural diversity.

This poses the challenge for the Goethe-Institut as a German cultural institute with an international presence to no longer conceive of cultural work in a primarily bilateral context, but to develop multipolar ways of seeing the world and perceiving realities. Three institutes from Central and Eastern Europe – Vilnius, Bratislava and Prague – have each given carte blanche to a corresponding institute in North Africa and the Middle East – Cairo, Beirut and Amman – to organise programmes on location for a fixed period of time and to geographically relocate their activities to Central and Eastern Europe: Cairo will enter into an exchange with Vilnius, Beirut will be hosted in Bratislava and Amman will take charge of the programme in Prague.

The temporary presence of three Arab Goethe-Instituts in the heart of Europe will create productive connections between the familiar and the unknown. Artists and activists from the Arab region will become leading actors in the cultural implementation of this process. This will create space for human encounters, a common understanding and a reduction of fears and prejudices. Each programme transferred from the Goethe-Institut in one city to another will provide an immediate, unfiltered and telescopic insight into the current Arab cultural landscape and will show how deeply Europe is connected with it.