Media Encounters, Cultural Confrontations: Kulturpolitik, agents and networks of the Goethe-Institut

Conversation between Merv Espina (fellow, documenta Institut), Regina Wyrwoll (Goethe Institute 1993-2001; Ludwig Stiftung) and Mi You (documenta Institut).

Between the late 1970s and early 1990s the Goethe-Institut embarked on an ambitious series of film and video workshops around the world. The workshop instructors were among the most important names working in German media culture in those decades: Werner Herzog, Christoph Janetzko, Barbara Hammann, Rotraut Pape, Harun Farocki, Monika Funke Stern, Maria Vedder, Rosa von Praunheim (Holger Mischwitzky), among many others. Some of the workshop participants went on to become important artists in the region or internationally, such as Raqs Media Collective.

While groundbreaking for some encounters, these workshops were not devoid of criticisms internally and externally. Issues of bias, mediation, pedagogy, gatekeeping, orientalism, cultural differences and the lingering question of influence were addressed by the facilitators, but most especially by participants from the Third World. But who influenced who, and to what extent? What were the impact or feedback of these encounters back in German institutions until much later? Merv Espina, fellow at the documenta Institut, attempts to answer these questions by tracing the works produced from these encounters, mapping the networks of actors and influences, and investigating the flow of material and technological support between Germany and the non-West. Together with Regina Wyrwoll, who was responsible for the Goethe-Institut media cooperations between 1993 and 2001, the conversation will surface practices of politics through culture that is latent but often more impactful than official Kulturpolitik lines.

Verwandte Links