The program series “Inquiries into the Future” develops from an East-West curatorial tandem and was conceived with an open outcome. From this perspective, possible developments in the coming years should be imagined, discussed, investigated and at the same time placed in a global context. In particular, art and digital culture are to be questioned: What ideas can they offer for possible futures? Which productive forms for approaching possible futures already exist or can be exploited?
The starting point for speculation and reflection on the future of Central and Eastern Europe are different levels of relationships: the relationship with oneself with regard to one’s own future (e. g. as a creator of culture), the relationship between East and West, interspersed with systemic, socio-economic structures, and the relationship of people with their environment and other forms of life. This multi-layered approach reflects the desire and attempt to take account of complexity; no development can be seen in isolation, but touches us on different levels. Unjust socio-ecological relationships run through all relations and ensure the continued existence of class, race, heteronormative and patriarchal privileges through the production of wasted people, beings and places.
The attack on Ukraine came just before the finalization of the program; the war cuts through all levels of relationships, while at the same time making the interconnections and connections even more apparent. In view of the current situation of a war in this region – and not only there – of a continuing pandemic and the threat of climate catastrophe, the question of how we can even think about the future / futures seems all the more urgent: How can we think about plans, wishes and visions for our personal future, with regard to social developments and the planet today?
In order to respond to this changed, unforeseeable situation, the programme is open-ended and should provide space for mutual doubt, reflection, reflection, discussion. Above all, the artistic, activist, academic and critical voices of all those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine are to be strengthened.
With the brutal military invasion of Ukraine, the world changed overnight – this war cuts across all current and future issues for CEE that we wanted to address. Shocked and at the same time puzzled, we ask ourselves not only from our role as cultural creators or from art institutions: “What now? How can we imagine any kind of future? How can we talk about the future now? An online impulse lecture dealing with these questions forms the kick-off of the program series “Inquiries into the Future.” Since ideas and projections of the future are all too often based on the same institutions and areas that caused the crises in the first place, artists, researchers, theorists, and activists will have their say in the series. who might be able to find a language to express the incomprehensible present, to comfort, to vent their own feelings and fears, and to imagine how to proceed from here and where to? What might possible/alternative futures look like after this war has influenced social, economic and ecological relationships and made it clear how intertwined they are?
The first on-site event at the Goethe-Institut in June takes a look at one’s personal constitution with regard to the near and far future. In joint conversations and openly staged situations and workshops, the invited artists and activists dedicate themselves to the state of mind in the context of increasing precarization, permanent availability and optimization pressure of today’s working and living conditions. While we live in a society where mental problems and illnesses have been privatized and where responsibility or “guilt” is attributed to the individual, the program explores the collective and political aspects of fear, disease and trauma. In doing so, we consider the effects and traumas of war in the immediate vicinity, as well as the navigation of media full of horror and false news or doom scrolling as supposed coping mechanisms. Our entire social and private life is permeated by fear, especially when we think about the future – how can we deal with it?
This panel examines how (formal) relationships between people are often characterized by exploitative relationships. The artists, theorists, and activists investigate the ideological structures and power relations that keep the Eastern, post-communist space in the position of the (exploited) constructed “Other” even years after the end of the Cold War and which geo-political currents continue to exist due to the ongoing separation of East and West. The event looks at the new logistics centers of German/Western European e-shops in CEE, as well as the conditions for migrant workers in the care sector and seasonal workers in the asparagus harvesting and asks how this will develop further? What will it look like tomorrow? Who’s going to have what job? How does the war affect these relationships now and in the future? What does it mean when the granting of protection and asylum is linked to usability or proximity and “similarity? What is the role of (social) media as an apparatus involved in generating devaluation, polarization and violence?
The series ends with an online screening of the essayistic experimental documentary Stone Of Hell by Tekla Aslanishvili and Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze, which addresses our relationships on a planetary level. Against the backdrop of extractivism, climate catastrophe but also the current nuclear threat, the artists examine our relationship to the planet, to our environment and to non-human beings.
The starting point for Stone Of Hell is the small mining town of Chiatura in western Georgia. The film follows the raw material manganese, which is mined locally, through all phases of processing and distribution, establishing connections to other spaces and temporalities. The film shows manganese as the basis for different modes of production, linking cultural, extractive and defence industries and driving technological progress. These shared foundations connect this peripheral location to a vast network of things, places and processes around the world that feed into current forms of conflict.
In the Q&A afterwards, there will be the opportunity to discuss the themes of the film together with the artists and to learn more about the creative process in terms of artistic cooperation, filmmaking or storytelling techniques
Inga Seidler (DE), Curator
lives and works as a curator and cultural producer in Berlin. In recent years, she has developed, produced and curated exhibitions, performances, discourse programmes and digital projects. After several years as a curator at the transmediale festival for arts and digital culture, she directed the Web Residency Programme at Akademie Schloss Solitude. As part of the curatorial collective connected to the independent project space ACUD MACHT NEU, she initiated the programme COLLECTIVE PRACTICES, which dealt with questions of collective knowledge production, cultural creation and organising in response to new technologies. Inga Seidler has been a member of several committees for artist in residency programmes and cultural institutions, and recently she was a jury member for the cultural exchange stipends of the Federal State of Berlin and the HKF. Since 2020 she is curating the exhibition programmes of the EMAF European Media Art Festival at Kunsthalle Osnabrück.
András Cséfalvay (SK), Co-curator
is a visual artist, digital story-teller, young academic from Bratislava, who currently teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava. He studied painting and mathematics in Bratislava, after which he wrote a dissertation at the Academy of Fine Arts on the usefulness and reality of fiction. His work explores the relationship between culture and technology, the political and ethical aspects of listening to non-dominant voices and the interpretation of the world. His latest projects look at the relationship between astronomers and indigenous peoples in the construction of the Mauna Kea telescopes, the flight of dinosaurs as a technology for survival after the extinction or re-categorization of the planet Pluto. He is a co-founder of the digital art platform at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava.
Mária Hlavajová (NL)
is a curator, organizer, and educator and founding general and artistic director of BAK, basis voor actuele kunst in Utrecht. She was research and artistic director of FORMER WEST (2008–16), which she initiated and developed as an internationally collaborative research, education, publication, and exhibition project. Hlavajová has instigated and organized numerous projects at BAK and beyond, including the series Propositions for Non-Fascist Living, Future Vocabularies, and New World Academy (with artist Jonas Staal, 2013–2016) among many other international research projects. Hlavajová is also co-founder of the tranzit network, a foundation that supports exchange and contemporary art practices in Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia. Hlavajová organized the Roma Pavilion Call the Witness (2011) in the context of the 54th Venice Biennale and curated the Dutch Pavilion titled Citizens and Subjects at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007).
Peter Sit (SK)
Peter Sit studied photography and intermedia in Bratislava and Prague. In 2012 he co-founded the APART collective and in this context founded the publishing house APART LABEL, where he is co-editor of more than 20 publications. In the past, Peter Sit has been involved in numerous, high-profile projects and, for example, co-curated the 9th Futurological Congress in Bratislava with Juliet Arandadie. Peter Sit is concerned with collectivity and its potential in the current world order, the question of labor, and he is interested in the expanded field of activity of the artist across the spectrum of artistic production. He is currently working as a PhD student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava on the topic of art in times of anxiety and depression.
Tekla Aslanishvili (GE)
(b. Tbilisi 1988) is a Berlin based artist, filmmaker and essayist. Her works emerge at the intersection of infrastructural design, history and geopolitics.Tekla graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 2009 and she holds a MFA from the Berlin University of the Arts - the department of Experimental Film and New Media Art. Aslanishvili's films have been screened and exhibited internationally at the Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Baltic Triennial, Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Kasseler Dokfest, Kunsthalle Münster, EMAF - European Media Art Festival, Videonale 18, Tbilisi Architecture Biennial. She is a 2018–2019 Digital Earth Fellow and most recently the nominee for Ars-Viva Art prize and the recipient of the Han Nefkens Foundation - Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Award.
Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze (GE)
(b. 1983, Kutaisi) is a Berlin based artist and filmmaker. He studied fine arts at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Tbilisi (2001-2007), at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague (2008-2010) and experimental film and video at the Berlin University of the Arts (2012-2016). In his works, Gagoshidze deals with the moving image, the political background to its production and distribution, and its socio-political significance. His works have been shown internationally in various exhibitions such as: Lulea, Luleå Biennial 2020 / Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien / Graz, steirischer herbst ‘19 / Stockholm, Konsthall Mint ABF / Berlin, n.b.k./
Kateřina Frejlachová (CZE)
Kateřina Frejlachová is an architect and editor. She studied at the Faculty of Architecture Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague and Hosei University, Tokyo. Katerina founded the Logistic landscapes collective with Tadeas Riha, Miroslav Pazdera, and Martin Spicak. In addition she is a co-founder of placemakers cz studio and co-author of a research project Illegal Taipei focused on informal architecture. After a few years at the Institute of Planning and Development of Prague she is currently collaborating with MCA atelier in Prague on projects regarding the public space of local cities.
Miroslav Pazdera (CZE)
Miroslav Pazdera is an architect and editor. He studied at Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague, RWTH Aachen, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He founded the Logistic landscapes collective with Tadeas Riha, Katerina Frejlachova, and Martin Spicak. In 2020 they published the book Steel Cities: The Architecture of Logistics in Central and Eastern Europe. He taught at CTU Prague as an assistant and curated the lecture series In Focus: Berlin for gallery ViPer. In the past he worked with pool Architekten (Zürich), Bernd Schmutz Architekten (Berlin) and Jan Žalský (Prague). He is currently working with Ehl Koumar in Prague.
Marco Armiero (ITA)
Marco Armiero is research director at the Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean of the Italian National Research Council and director of the Environmental Humanities Laboratory at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He has done research at Yale University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University. He was Marie Curie fellow at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Visiting Researcher at the Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra. He was appointed Barron Visiting Professor of environmental humanities at Princeton University. Among his publications: Wasteocene. Stories from the Global Dump (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and, with Roberta Biasillo and Wilko Graf von Hardenberg, Mussolini's Nature. An Environmental history of fascism (MIT and Einaudi 2022). Since 2019, he is the president of the European Society for Environmental History.
Ivana Rumanová (SK)
Ivana Rumanová studied Cultural Anthropology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague and Cultural Projects in Public Space at the Sorbonne in Paris. She has worked as a curator at the New Synagogue in Žilina, and is a member of the editorial board of the magazines Kapitál and 3/4. Her recent projects include co-organizing the project Seminar of Urban Imagination (together with Eliška Mazalanová and Petr Szalay), which explores the right to the city in times of climate crisis, the exhibition project We Were Never Closer at tranzit.sk (together with Dušan Barok), which reflects on the phenomenon of networked communities in relation to transitology, and the dramaturgy of the techno-opera The Committee of Miroslav Tóth. She also organizes the Kapitalks series of events and curated the Right to the City residency programme for GMB. She has also collaborated with Nova Cvernova, where she curated the Reaktor programme with the theme of solidarity platforms and radical care.
Katalin Erdődi (AUT)
Katalin Erdődi is a curator, dramaturg and author, who works with a focus on socially engaged art, experimental performance and artistic interventions in urban and rural public spaces. Currently, she is researching processes of socio-political change in post-socialist rural contexts through collaborative artistic and curatorial practice. Recent projects include Rural Productive Forces - A Collaborative Village Play with Antje Schiffers/Myvillages (2021-2024) in Germany, Hungary and Spain, and News Medley (2020-2021, OFF-Biennale Budapest) with visual artist Alicja Rogalska. Beyond the art field, Erdődi is involved in the work of activist groups focusing on migration and labor related issues (a.o. Precarity Office Vienna, Sezonieri Campaign for the Rights of Agricultural Workers).
Barbora Kleinhamplová (CZ)
Barbora Kleinhamplová`s (institute of Anxiety) work explores the question of what constitutes society, what its illnesses and emotions are, and what its future holds in relation to institutions, work, the economy, and the political situation through the means of association and metaphor.