WochenKlausur's project idea could not be realised within the frame of 'Okkupation' due to budgetary concerns - these expenses could neither be covered by public nor private support. However, since the idea of 'Discussion on Demand' can be seen as the result of the 'Okkupation' symposium, it is documented here.

Martina Reuter

Wolfgang Zinggl

Martina Reuter
(born in 1959)
Wolfgang Zinggl
(born in 1954)

lives in Vienna
Discussion on Demand

Although lectures and discussions on culture and society are generally open to the public, they however tend to address an 'insider' audience. This is not due to a lack of interest from a wider audience but rather relates to the form and practice through which these themes are delivered.

In the democratic society, public space is defined as being contrary to the private, and as offering its citizens the possibility for codetermination. Discussion events about communal topics are therefore an important step at the forefront of opinion-forming and indispensable for a true discourse. This results in the active co-shaping of a genuinely democratic society.

If the themes of the public's interest are not understandable enough, if the latest information is not delivered (what was discussed before, what is to be decided now), then the participation and codetermination of the public - if any - will be based only on populist views and opinions.

There is a lack of access to informative topics – that is, at least to those which do not only address an expert audience or serve as subjective attempts to manipulate popular opinion. This lack also exists among the so-called educated classes. For instance, who - apart from biologists – believes themselves to understand enough about gene technology to be capable of having an unrestricted say in the matter? Who - apart from sociologists – can deal with the construct of "public space"? And still, these things are a concern to everyone. Due to this lack of understandable information and objective exchange, it becomes possible to adopt the attitudes of authority without analysis - to reiterate the opinions of favoured groups, parrot-fashion, or to abstain completely from offering opinion. This abstention may seem like disinterest - but actually results from an embarrassed feeling of incompetence.

Discussion on Demand, a mobile lecture and discussion service on current themes of culture, education and society, will try to compensate for this lack. Just as a hungry person who don't want to go out can order a pizza to be delivered, those who desire brain food on specific topics will be able to order from a menu which offers a selection of lectures and discussions which will then be delivered.

Packages on selected themes are offered, which consist of a lecture that is worked out as impulse paper and presented through PowerPoint presentation, slides, video, etc. as well as a final discussion. The ordered events are open to a broad audience, or a private one if so desired. In contrast to the usual lectures and discussions, the lecturers go to the interested audience. And the inviting audience decide the target group for which the lecture is designed.

Every public institution and private person in Berlin and environs can employ this service: schools and businesses, universities and organisers, private persons and public offices, ministries and political parties. The demanding institution or person can decide the audience (e.g. exclusively school classes, members or guests).
An especially good price offer is made for the area Neukölln.

The first group of themes concerns cultural and social discussions in connection with the public space. New demands and developments are often dealt with too briefly and/or subjectively in the media, sometimes for many it is too unclear. An insight into the historical-ideological context of some processes would provide a step toward a more objective discussion.

Specialists will be in charge of the designing of impulse papers on the selected themes. These will be tested on various populations and adapted accordingly.

Some examples for the starting packages:

Package 1
WORKING TITLE: 'What has that got to do with art?'
THEME: Art and the public space
A lecture on the ideological history of contemporary art focusing on the function of art in the public space.
DISCUSSION: More people than believed are concerned about art. Every person has an attitude towards art, since there are no apartments, hospital rooms, waiting rooms, conference rooms, or offices without pictures. Almost each railway station, airport, park and square has its own sculpture. Not only do artists, curators or art critics officially deal with art, so too do tax officers, customs officers, and insurance company employees - they often have the power to decide what is art and what is not. Art in the private space is chosen by taste and, because of that, art in the public space can become the cause of ignorance and aggression. What is art, after all? What can be understood as art, and how did it develop? Does art always inherit the same set of meanings? These are some examples of questions that will be highlighted, without referring to any specific names or terms.

Package 2
WORKING TITLE: 'What is better about the Nike cap than the headscarf?'
THEME: Religions and cultures in the public space
A lecture on publicly accepted economic, cultural and religious symbols focusing specifically on the social ideas of Islam.
DISCUSSION: Dürfen türkische Mädchen und Frauen in der Schule Kopftücher tragen? Liegt die aktuelle Aufregung darüber wirklich nur daran, dass das Kopftuch ein Symbol für die Unterdrückung der Frauen im Islam darstellt? Warum hat man darüber nicht schon vor 5 oder 10 Jahren diskutiert, und warum wurde dann nicht schon längst in katholischen Ländern das Kreuz in den Klassenzimmern abgeschafft? Was wissen wir über die Lehre des Islam, über darin enthaltene Stellungnahmen zur Rolle der Frauen in der Gesellschaft?
Und selbst wenn alle religiösen Symbole in Schulen verboten werden, was ist mit all den Markenlogos von Großkonzernen auf Kappen, Schuhen, Taschen, die heute eine so wichtige Stellung für die Jugend einnehmen? Oft stehen hinter den wirtschaftlichen Erfolgen dieser Konzerne mehr als bedenkliche Ausbeutungsstrategien, gerade was Frauen betrifft.

WORKING TITLE: 'Which is the nicest building in the area?'
THEME: Architecture in the public space
A lecture on reccurrent questions and criteria concerning the evaluation of urban buildings and architecture, taking into consideration its inherent difference from private furnishing.
DISCUSSION: Many people think that historical town centres are prettier than the parts of town which consist mainly of new buildings. Old buildings - those which are at least more than 100 years old - are generally regarded as pretty, impressive, or romantic. This is why they are the main attraction of every sightseeing tour. New buildings are less popular. Were older buildings equally regarded as pretty or romantic in the last century? What do old buildings represent to us? Do any guidelines for good architecture exists, or is everything based on taste?

Since 1993, the artist group 'WochenKlausur' has developed and realised small but well-targeted proposals which address certain lacks within the socio-political system. Artistic practice is no longer seen just as a formal act, but also as a social intervention.
The main task of Wochenklausur in the project designed for 'Okkupation' will be to find a supporting organization in Neukölln whose interest can be raised in the establishing and running of the project, and to provide it with the initial help necessary to get the project up and running.
The initial help will involve the preparation of the first three packages, and the training of the lecturers, who will then run the project on the organisation's behalf. The initial help will also include the advertising of these initiatives in the many institutions, mainly in Neukölln.
    Website: www.wochenklausur.at



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