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Culture & Society

Many cities in Europe are once again restricting social life, but this time it feels different. The first lockdown in spring had a collective feeling. We were separated, but we were closer together in heart than on any other "normal" day. We were supportive and said that we would get through this together. That spirit is not there this time. The excitement about the novelty of this situation has disappeared, and so somehow the limitations feel more exhausting. Probably because we have to deal with them alone this time. ⁠ So while our cities are operating in low-power mode, it may be the right time to record what we are really missing. What is it that makes a city? Living the City - Of Cities, People, and Stories is an architecture book that focuses on the non-physical elements that make up our cities. After a first look at urbanites it expands into emotionally and poetically charged stories that consider very basic activities such as loving, living, moving, working, learning, playing, dreaming, and participating. This publication focuses on the human side of cities, on what happens after houses are built, traffic is strategically controlled and parks are created.⁠   Buy...

2020 - the year we read about clubbing instead of actually going clubbing.⁠ Club cultures have a rich local history and are at the same time much more differentiated geographically speaking than the story of the North Atlantic axis of Detroit–Chicago–Manchester–Berlin would have us believe. This book expands the focus. It looks at ten club capitals in Africa and Europe, reporting on different scenes from the big name to the supposedly peripheral. The local music stories, the scenes, the subcultures and their global networks are reconstructed in twenty-one essays and photo sequences. The tale they tell is one of clubs as laboratories of otherness, in which people can experiment with new ways of being and assert their claim to the city. Ten Cities is a nocturnal, sound-driven journey through ten social and urban stories from 1960 through to the present.⁠   Buy...

Do you know the work of Forensic Architecture? If not, then be prepared to get your mind blown! Connecting real cases of human rights and environmental violations with the tools used in architecture and design, this studio creates a Wolpertinger of art and real evidence which is then used in some of the biggest court cases and tribunals of recent years. ⁠ ⁠ From makeshift satellites constructed with a simple kite, a plastic bottle, some rubber band and a camera, documenting evidence of Bedouin inhabitation in the Negev desert where Bedouin ownership is contested; to reading the "fingerprints" of smoke clouds left behind by missile strikes; to training AI to identify teargas canisters in Hong Kong; to rebuilding whole rooms in 3D to verify the testimony of witnesses - Forensic Architecture is often challenged by voices declaring in an exhibition "This is evidence, not art!" or in a trial "This is art, not evidence!". Truth is, that exhibiting their work in art exhibitions draws international attention to cases that States or big corporations would only too gladly keep unnoticed. It helps victims be heard and get access to a public stage. It also sheds light on injustices, corruption and failures of our political systems. Which is the basis for change. But the fragments of truth are so meticulously and creatively collected, investigated and displayed that they all too often are also the missing proof in a trial. So what is it now? Art or Evidence? One of our all-time-favorite magazines mono.kultur set out to shed light on the manyfold works through an in depth interview with founder Eyal Weizman. And while you should absolutely read this heart stopping issue of mono.kultur we can already say that Forensic Architecture is the answer to the question what happens when art has real-world consequences.⁠   Buy...

Until mid January the exhibition Masculinities - Liberation through Photography is shown at the Gropius Bau in Berlin. Having previously been presented at the Barbican in London, Berlin is the second city to have the pleasure of this celebrated exhibition, that explores how masculinity is experienced, performed, and codified in photography and film from the 1960s to the present. Given the plurality of subversive masculinities that have emerged since the 1960s and the resilience of certain forms of traditional ultra-male power this is an ambitious undertaking. The accompanying comprehensive publication is no less committed. From disrupting the archetype with found photographs of Taliban fighters holding softly hands surrounded by arrangements of flowers; to fatherhood with an incredible, unsettling piece by Anna Fox. Photographs of her mothers tidy cupboards filled with pink china and rose tinted glasses are juxtaposed with violent quotes from her father like “I’m going to tear your mother to shreds with an oyster knife”, Masculinities draws wide circles to prove its point, that what makes a man a man is more complex than even Aznavour could imagine in his groundbreaking song from 1972. This exhibition and book will make you think again about the meanings of maleness in a increasingly unsettling world where we experiencing the rise of more and more alt-right groups looking for a so called "strong man" as a leader. So let us take the word "liberation" in the title literally and free ourselves from the clichés and always the same images and realise that masculinity is a social construct!⁠   Buy...

Gerade jetzt, wo die Welt einer Reality Freak Show gleicht, ist wohl eine der berechtigtsten Fragen, die einem in den Sinn kommen kann: Herr Schlingensief, sind Sie hier irgendwo? Für viele galt er lange Zeit als ewiger Provokateur, der sich einen Spaß daraus machte, anderen ans Bein zu pinkeln. Zu laut, zu makaber, zu respektlos seien seine Filme, Kunstaktionen oder Theaterinszenierungen. Adolf Hitler neben Helmut Kohl, Sozialhilfeempfängern und Asylanten? Unbedingt! Schweigen können schließlich die anderen. Und das recht gut. Bei Filmen wie Menu Total, Die 120 Jahre von Bottrop oder Das deutsche Kettensägenmassaker war es nicht unüblich, dass der Großteil des Publikum – empört bis verstört – den Kinosaal verließ, während Schlingensief noch am Tonregler rumhantierte. Die Devise: Laut kann es nie genug sein! Seine Kunst, eine auf Dauer gestellte gesellschaftliche Versuchsanordnung, getrieben von Angst und Zweifel. In welcher Reihenfolge bleibt uns überlassen. Provozieren ja, aber eigentlich nur sich selbst. Allein deshalb wird dem vor 10 Jahren verstorbenen Apothekersohn der Ruf des deutschen enfant terrible bei Weitem nicht gerecht. Das beweisen, Wort für Wort, die wunderbaren Interviews, die seine langjährige Weggefährtin und Ehefrau Aino Laberenz nun zusammengestellt hat. Sibylle Berg, Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre oder auch Alexander Kluge und immer wieder Schlingensief. Das hilft! Auch auf die Frage, wie diese Welt noch zu retten sei, hatte er schon damals eine Antwort:  Ch. S.: Es gibt da so eine komische Sekte, die sagt, wenn 6000 Menschen auf Knien durch die Gegend hüpfen, wird die Welt gerettet. Ich würde mitmachen, wenn dadurch wirklich die Welt gerettet wird. Wie würde diese Welt denn aussehen?  Ch. S.: Alle Leute stellen erstmal diese Frage. Ich würde es einfach probieren und dann gucken, was passiert. Vielleicht gibt's dann den Kaffee umsonst. (aus dem Interview mit Gerd Diez und Anke Dürr in: Spiegel, Kultur Extra 11) Buy...

The new Dummy is all about feelings: A sense of the needs of others, the perception of injustice and the admission of compassion are the foundations for a society in which the weak do not become even weaker in times of crisis. What is needed, apart from a rethink on the part of the state, is more empathy from each individual. Empathy, which many people are more likely to allow in the cinema than in real life. ⁠As always it comes in German, sorry. But we guess that makes Dummy is one of the good reasons to pick up German lessons...

What actually began as an online magazine by Kvadrat and sounds like every other Instagram profile description, namely to publish stories and images about contemporary culture, became much more than that with the print publication Interwoven. It is a kaleidoscopic mixture of words, ideas, artworks and photographs from the last 500 years. The brief thoughts that accompany the visual roller-coaster ride are condensed, yet profound and inspiring for reflections on contemporary culture.⁠ Buy ⁠...

When he was 14, Joshua Wong made history. While the adults stayed silent, Joshua staged the first ever student protest in Hong Kong to oppose National Education – and won. Since then, Joshua has led the Umbrella Movement, founded a political party, and rallied the international community around the anti-Extradition Bill protests, which have seen 2 million people – more than a quarter of the population – take to Hong Kong’s streets. His actions have sparked worldwide attention, earned him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, and landed him in jail twice. Composed in three parts, Unfree Speech chronicles Joshua’s path to activism, collects the letters he wrote as a political prisoner, and closes with a powerful and urgent call for all of us globally to defend our democratic values.⁠ But this is not only a story about Hong Kong. It is the story of fighting against oppression, of rising up against tyranny, and of the demand for democracy and human rights. So looking at the world right now - the rise of authoritarian regimes, the use of police and military forces against their own people, the undermining of democratic systems - all this shows that this book is important for all of us.⁠ Buy...

Die BRD existiert nicht. Angela Merkel ist Hitlers Tochter. Und Chemtrails sollen uns vergiften. Es ist leicht in der ganzen post-truth Debatte auf die USA zu zeigen und belächelnd den Kopf zu schütteln, wenn mal wieder eine abstruse Verschwörungstheorie auftaucht. Das wir aber gar nicht bis über den Ozean schauen müssen um das Gruseln zu bekommen, zeigen Christian Alt und Christian Schiffer.⁠ Auf ihrer Reise durch ein paranoides Land (es ist tatsächlich Deutschland) treffen sie Verschwörungstheoretiker, Aussteiger und Opfer. Sie decken die psychologischen Mechanismen auf, die zu Verschwörungstheorien führen, erklären, warum das Internet nur zum Teil Schuld hat und tragen 23 goldene Regeln zusammen, mit denen wir den Wahnsinn endlich aufhalten können. Ein aufklärerisches Manifest und ein furioser Road Trip – auf dem sie dann aber einen großen Fehler machen: Sie erfinden eine eigene Verschwörungstheorie. Buy ...

Since the 16th century, all over the American continents, enslaved Africans have escaped their captors and founded their own communities or merged with indigenous peoples to form new identities. In his new series Cimarron - a Spanish-American term used to describe the fled slaves - Charles Fréger shows photographic portraits of their descendants today. In Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean islands, Central America and the southern United States, masquerades are still staged today to celebrate and keep alive the history and cultural memory of African slaves and their descendants. Buy...