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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October - 4 December, 1998

[as of December 1st 1998 the forum has been prolonged - ... open-ended]


Subject:Forum of the HKW Berlin
Date:Tue, 13 Oct 1998 09:31
Author:Manfred Brönner  [director@goethe-houston.org]
Reply To:forum1@hkw.kbx.de


I would like to comment on some thoughts put forward (among others) by Yu Yeon Kim and Tom Vincent. Of course, stumbling over the ever-present influences of globalisation, is disturbing for all those who fight for a good cause. Unfortunately it is futile to lament about the development which uses and incorporates the arts in its strive for business. Instead I wish to redirect our thinking towards how we can under these circumstances make the most of our assets:
Tom writes, that "masses of information pour into Japan about the rest of the world, there is still very little going the other way". Slightly more optimistic, Yu Yeon Kim puts hopes in the foreground about the (still doubtful) help of the internet, when reciprocal information flow is concerned.

What Malaysia's Mr Mahatir always wanted to propagate with reference to Asian societies' and economies' future, might be helpful here when applied to the arts. He always had made it clear that less industrialised countries like those in SE Asia will show their supremacy, one day even become the suppliers of thought and strategies for future development of the "West". This failed until now dragically, but we are not sure whether this failure was supported heavily by speculators (no one denies this completely, but no one also denies that faults in the "own" system were a major factor). Applying this to the arts, can mean, that those living and producing art in less powerful areas of the world, might have to develop a strategy which fosters self-assurance and at the same time finds channels to disseminate information about their achievements: Dissemination (whether welcomed or not by the addressees) with the goal to make many of the self-declared world centers of arts feel at least more insecure. They have power to manipulate the art market, but not the market of new ideas. Probably all of us can easily name various areas in this world where there is an incredible lack of interest in things happening outside the "own territory". In free societies this is a phenomenon that comes with unsustainable wealth (and the believe to have acquired the wealth of better judgement). Only free societies not similarly participating in this monetary wealth, feel the squeeze.

I daresay that Germany after WW II proved that a people suffering from lack of access to "free" contemporary arts, after again being allowed this access, shows a hunger for any kind of information which is the real nourishing ground for arts education. This hunger, unfortunately enough, seems to grow at times when money is scarce and resources are limited. The overfed consumer is not the vehicle for mental curiosity. And by no means for curiosity looking far beyond her/his national (even State-) borders. Instead, the dollar-oriented mania to consume arts as a sponsor in the limelight of the local stage, takes over, and for the organisers the profit after expenses has become the measurement for success - for the Symphony as well as for the Opera, the museum etc.

Thus the most powerful have become the most ignorant, and what is worse: the least inter-culturally competent. I.e. they are indeed not the ones to judge cultural achievements at all, though they do not know this. And this is the worst scenario for inter-cultural understanding and tolerance. There lies the infringement on the non-indusrtialised world's representatives of the arts. Ignorance leads to judgement glorifying one's own achievements: The much quoted center of the world.

How we can use infringement for "our" goals, i.e. to force the self-centered to see, should be one major topic of this discussion. Not as pop-ups on the net, but by creating ONE forum (virtual and real) which, by instrumentalising it efficiently, over the years becomes THE place to visit, the publication to consult regularly, if you want to be acknowledged as a curator, a choreographer, an art critic etc. The main task would be to argue against the market domain as the all-important regulans. I invite voices to come forward with suggestions towards such a goal. If an impact on this one-sided "global" market shall be made, it can not be done by co-existence of hundreds of art-related publications, but by approaching all of those editors to contribute the essence of their related themes to one forum to be designed as the future leader in intercultural competence.


Manfred Brönner
Goethe Institut Houston


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Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, on the use of Internet in the cultural exchange with and between Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America.

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