Truth vs. lies, morality vs. immorality, tradition vs. progress. Actually, our world has become insanely simple. At least as long as we perceive values and views that do not fit our own image, giving no time or space to nuances or complex perspectives. But where do we go with a society in which we do not listen to other opinions? How can we learn to tolerate, accept, and use an opinion contrary to our own to examine our own point of view?
In 2023, under the annual topic "disagreement & coexistence", we are dedicating ourselves to the space between disagreement and fellow human beings from a wide variety of perspectives, together with partners from our partner culture Ghana this year. How can we deal with disagreement and still coexist peacefully?
Polarization has always been part of modern history. And yet globalization and the digital world in particular are bringing new conditions with them. In an increasingly plural society, we move between a strengthening of traditionalism and nationalism, while the other side points to its ethical superiority through moralization. In social media, algorithms and filtering systems present us only information that confirm and reinforce our own opinions. Hate speech and cancel culture, in digital and analog spaces, are increasingly perceived as a threat to social cohesion and obscure the civilized exchange of arguments. Hardened cultural and political discourses seem to lead from vibrant pluralism to uncomprehending polarization.
Between the extremes of polarization, many people increasingly yearn for civilized conversations, for listening, being perceived, and truthful exchanges. Between highly motivated discussions in which one side tries to convince the other, there is room for dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Peace does not mean that everyone is mute and of the same opinion. Peace is also when there is a healthy and respectful exchange. "coexistence & disagreement" is also the attempt to explore in and across cultural contexts at which points we block and the unfamiliar becomes so unpleasant that our counterpart's point of view is no longer recognizable.
Twenty artists from Ghana and Germany will dedicate themselves to te annual topic "disagreement & coexistence" in a four-week art-lab. A crossover of cultures and art genres, initiated and contextualized by scientific input from experts in sociology, politics and psychology. Together we research, speak and learn: two weeks in Cologne, two weeks in Accra.