The first-ever symposium organized by re:future Lab – Holitopia 2023 took place in Berlin, under the theme “symbiotic politics”.
Considering it was the first edition of the event, it was difficult to have any specific expectations. On-site, it turned out that the symposium was a relatively intimate gathering with approximately 50 participants. Before the doors of SPREEHALLE opened, the event’s founders Madeleine Schwinge and Cécile Nebbot, personally greeted each attendee. Furthermore, they knew the names of the participants by heart, which minimized the sense of unfamiliarity. During small talks, it became evident that the audience came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from futurists and designers to scientists, dancers, likely due to the invitation of speakers from various fields.
Madeleine started with delivering a sort of manifesto, outlining the mission of re:future Lab and the purpose of the symposium itself. A part of her speech was dedicated to the language itself, emphasizing the need for a redefine of concepts human-nature relationships, disciplines, roles, what is considered artificial, and what is natural, as well as what it means to engage with the future.
For two days the lectures of scientists were exchanging with designers and artists presentations, offering various (sometimes opposing) visions of the future. It turns out that we often have different interpretations of the same definition due to the disciplines we come from.
Modern laboratories or experimentation require collaboration among people from different fields, but are scientists and businesspeople open to collaborating with artists or designers?
Yes, we can collaborate and co-create as long as we ensure that our definitions mean the same to us.
The contemporary role of a designer may mean to moderate the projects, ask questions, and empathize with the needs of the audience, while art can catalyze social change and is shifting from passive aesthetics to even activism. Art as a social practice transforms society, finds capacity for change, and sometimes shock (as a tool) can be helpful.
Holitopia 2023 showed that beginning of the most significant changes often has its roots in backstage meetings, because that’s where we hear ourselves most clearly.
It also confirmed that “reworlding” requires collaboration, but collaboration requires openness.
Written by Teresa Otulak, artist and designer