Thinking Space (Denkraum) – Discussions, Lectures, and Encounters

"A man who wants to lose his self discovers, indeed, the possibilities of human existence, which are infinite, as infinite as is creation. But the recovering of a new personality is as difficult – and as hopeless – as a new creation of the world."
Hannah Arendt, We Refugees, 1943

When looking more closely at the topics of flight and migration, we are confronted with many puzzling questions, as well as uncertainties. Did you know that according to the UNHCR’s most recent calculations, every 113th person in the world is an internal migrant, an asylum seeker, or a refugee? That the migration flows worldwide have been relatively constant for over 500 years? What, however, is actually the difference between an immigrant, a migrant, and an asylum seeker, all of whom are mentioned here in the same breath, and what differentiates people in exile from those in the diaspora?

The UNCERTAIN STATES exhibition project offers a platform for research and statistics, but above all an opportunity for discourse and dialogue. Drawing on the concept of Denkraum, a thinking space, as framed by Hannah Arendt, the exhibition project offers a multifunctional dialogue space for the transdisciplinary accompanying events within its larger framework. Since the topics of migration and uncertainty interface with all areas of society, the Denkraum will supplement its many concerts, readings, theatrical performances and symposia with a series of discussions, encounters, lecture demonstrations, and performances to serve, in particular, as a rehearsal stage and a place to listen. Here scholars, students, activists, artists, and their colleagues in refuge present their concerns, visions, and differing assessments in terms of the options available for taking action. In parallel the wall graphics by the Global Flow of People project provide an overview of the pre- and post-2015 numbers of refugees worldwide. The graphics visualise among other things the flows of refugees associated with regular migration from 2005 to 2010, give information about registered refugees since the end of 2015, and display data about all newly filed asylum applications in the 50 most desirable countries of immigration. In a public archive, research can be conducted on the most important initiatives on the topic of migration through books, magazines and artist catalogues. In addition, the Migration-Audio-Archiv presents a collection of audio recordings of migration accounts that convey the personal voices and experiences of the immigrants.

For the duration of the exhibition, FLAX Foreign Local Artistic Xchange will open a pop-up office once a week in the Denkraum, where artists and other people in refuge engaged in the cultural sector can receive advice and support from prominent local artists, such as Katharina Grosse, Nasan Tur, Katharina Narbutovic, Alya Sebti, Ali Kaaf and Lanna Idriss, regarding educational and funding opportunities for artistic and cultural projects. From 20 October to 5 November the festival “Goethe-Institut Damascus | In Exile” will take place in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut. On two evenings Syrian filmmakers will attend the Akademie der Künste to discuss the history of Syrian film and share their impressions of the current situation in their home country.

Bi-weekly, on Friday afternoons, the Denkraum will be converted into a forum for Affective Societies, the new Collaborative Research Center at Freie Universität Berlin. A group of sociologists, cultural scientists and students are available for joint discussions and mutual learning experiences. On six dates both selected artists and artistic contributions, as well as corresponding themes from UNCERTAIN STATES will be examined by experts from various research disciplines.

In addition, three symposia will explore questions on “Making Nachbarschaft” (making neighbourliness), recall the architecture of the forgotten Jewish architect Adolf Rading, and critically assess socio-political engagement in society. Over the entire course of the exhibition project, Rudolf Giesselmann’s Listening Project provides insights into the art of structured listening.