There are lovely stories that humans tell about themselves. We can live peacefully together when we do not love each other. We seek happiness in quite different ways. We have ideas and many times the courage to make them come true.
Yet other stories suggest that the world we live in is a world full of challenges. We are faced with climate change, pollution, epidemics, unemployment, migration, terrorism, resource scarcity, wars and nationalism, to name just a few of the challenges.
Nothing can be said against tackling these issues in order to positively shape the future. Moreover, we can think of the world in terms of a themed world, taking this to be the foundation on which such shaping takes place.
Turning the world into a themed world means to think of the world from a practical point of view. To create a themed world is not about explaining the world. Instead, it is a quite general translation of the world into something that we need to debate and cope with together. The fields of the themed world provide a basic orientation and make various areas accessible within a thematic order. It is certainly the case that the ten fields of themes do not cover everything. However, they mark places where we come together and contend with the issues.
Fields of themes are general in nature. They are not a reason for social division and hate. With this quality, they can be the common starting point for social discourse. Such a discourse begins with the question of how a thematic field can be subdivided into areas and focal points. Subdividing such a field, then, means creating a space in which we encounter the concrete with a sense of distinction.
A themed world can mediate between the world and an exhibition world. Understood in such a way, it contains the contents of an exhibition. However, a themed world can be our subject of discussion even if we are not in an exhibition.
Time for Pictures
Life in the Digital Age
A person on the driving seat of a car – not driving, somewhere in Berlin, Germany (2017)
Planet and Nature
Parinacota in Bolivia – breathing hard, not the mountain, though (2014)
Home and Globalization
Temple in Hangzhou, China – and advertising space: not belonging to the temple (2014)
Health and Happiness
Garden in Sardinia, Italy – and calm, motion, perception (2018)
Religion and Science
Two buildings in Montreal, Canada – coexisting peacefully (2016)
Time and Life
Musicians in Berlin, Germany – at the Landwehr Canal: apart and being for themselves (2019)
Being lonely and Being alone
People on a garden bench in Sardinia, Italy – having no eye contact (2018)
Society and Politics
Dome of the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany – not free-floating (2018)
Bildung and Career
Squirrel in Grand Teton National Park, USA – sitting, not using a chair (2015)
Identity and Responsibility
NK Doege in her atelier in Leipzig, Germany – standing in front of a painting on a canvas stand (2018)
As humans, we are free to play different roles in different situations. The denkwerkstatt grenzenlos intends to motivate people to play a role by which one is responsible for creating a world-exhibition. We venture to call such an endeavor a world exhibition, since it is the themed world by which we organize the exhibition.
At this point, being responsible for creating a world-exhibition means participating in a thought experiment. In such an experiment we imagine ourselves to be responsible for creating fields of themes and their presentation in public spaces. This implies the willingness both to understand other persons’ points of view and to give up one’s own. Such a debate is open to the sciences, cultural life, art, political institutions, and society in general.
The four types of events offered by the denkwerkstatt grenzenlos make the thought experiment possible. The idea of a world-exhibition is the imagined context under whose conditions the experiment takes place. If it turns out that a world-exhibition never takes place, this will not diminish the importance of our events. What matters are processes in which we seek to deal with the themes, challenges, and problems of our time in a joint effort. The world-exhibition as an idea is a tool or method which is implemented as such a thought experiment.
A world-exhibition is not a world exhibition. Classic world exhibitions have existed since the mid-nineteenth century. Originally they were fairs at which nations presented their economic and technological achievements. Since the mid-twentieth century, world exhibitions have increasingly dealt with the challenges of our time. However, the world of world exhibitions is still a world of nations and cultures that present themselves through pavilions.
Working on the idea of a world-exhibition, we leave this interrelationship between world, nation, and culture behind. The exhibition space of a world-exhibition is not constituted by national and cultural spaces, but by fields of themes that allow both for a transfer of knowledge and social discourse. The themed world in the exhibition space of a world-exhibition is our time as reflected in science and discourse.
The world-exhibition of the future is a festival of ideas and prospects. Moreover, it is a stage for what we cannot dispute or must refute in case we doubt something. The exhibition space opens spaces of knowledge and opportunities for social discourse. It is about recognizing facts, on the one hand, and the realization that we need to have an understanding of the sciences, on the other.
Spaces of knowledge are far from being spaces in which humans humbly kneel down before the holy pillars of science. A world-exhibition presents the state of the art in terms of knowledge that we must not ignore when debating the challenges of our time. The transfer of knowledge, though, is only one component of the world-exhibition. Equally important is the idea to transfer knowledge on what science and knowledge are. What is science? And under which conditions are we justified to argue that we know something? It is more important than ever for us to have an understanding of science and, moreover, of knowledge in everyday life. Conspiracy theories are a serious threat to democratically organized societies. However, they can be repudiated once we agree on the conditions under which we hold something to be true or false.
The world-exhibition is a roadshow. Where might the events take place one day? Many things are possible: in a big barn, in an abandoned industrial building, in a country hotel, in the market square, in the main auditorium of a school, in a town hall, in a factory hall of a local company, on the deck of a ship or in a memorial center.
The world-exhibition, as a process, is the story of its own creation. To model this process means to create and structure fields of themes in order to make them the subject of public discourse. At this point in time, the denkwerkstatt grenzenlos aims at providing spaces for participation, which means creating an inventive framework for dealing with the themes, challenges, and problems of our time in both a critical and constructive way.
We not only have ideas, but also the courage to implement them.