Art & Science Weekend: Breaking Barriers, Fostering Understanding

The recent Art & Science Weekend in Berlin was a two-day event aimed at confronting stereotypes and polarization in society. With venues scattered throughout the city, the event aimed to unite artists and scientists and challenge stereotypical thinking.

Over 300 participants engaged in activities like improvisation workshops, science slams, theatrical performances, and discussions on decolonialism. These events encouraged attendees to embrace complexity and reject rigid divisions.

How does art help oppose discrimination and polarization in society? Here's what the teams who were part of the Art & Science Weekend program have to say:

"We are happy to present our work in progress “Am I comfortable enough?” at Arts & Science Weekend, welcoming over 120 spectators. We are also grateful for the active participation of our audience during the ensuing discussion. One spectator remarked: “A progressive mind does not necessarily mean being bold and ready for open statements or actions. Change starts with small steps. This performance made me braver, and for that, I am thankful to everyone who contributed to its creation.” If our work has made even one woman braver, we are very satisfied with the outcome." - "Am I comfortable enough?" Team

"The performance on April 20 was memorable for us because the audience was multinational and diverse in experience, age, gender, origin, social status, etc. They all share the feeling of being between two sides in life, not fitting into either, or combining opposites, which seems impossible. We are grateful for the honesty, courage, and openness of the audience, who shared their stories with us, listened to each other, and became a little more aware of the pain of others." - Playback Theatre

"How was the walking tour at the Open Air Museum of Decoloniality? The walking-lecture, themed "NOT A SINGLE STORY," was inspiring, resonating with many participants as it explored decolonial feminist names and challenged traditional urban narratives. The tour encouraged critical reflection on decoloniality and the visibility of feminist names in public spaces. The commitment to updating the museum's exhibition based on attendee feedback shows dedication to diverse perspectives and honoring those who fought for freedom, solidarity, and justice.

Renaming Alexanderplatz to reflect decolonial and feminist values is thought-provoking, replacing a name linked to Russian military imperialism with 16 feminist and decolonial names, challenging colonial legacies. Efforts to challenge dominant narratives and celebrate marginalized voices are heartening.

Overall, the walking-lecture fosters critical thinking, dialogue, and action towards decolonizing public spaces. The invitation for the audience to reflect on knowledge production and engage with alternative narratives is appreciated. Such initiatives are crucial in reshaping our understanding of history and promoting inclusivity and social justice." - @de_colonialanguage collective

What about science? How can it help people move away from black and white thinking?

The popular Science Slam format, in an informal setting, helps examine social phenomena in terms of facts and evidence. Sometimes this approach can help people rethink their views, becoming more tolerant and empathetic. Here's what Science Slam winner Anna Leontyeva, MA & MPP (Georgetown University'19), Cultural Psychologist, has to say about the event:

«Participating in the Science Slam was a very positive experience for me. We prepared the performance for a long time, and in the end, on the day of the slam I was already enjoying the process. It is very valuable to experience a common cause with colleagues from very different scientific fields. And, of course, the opportunity to see the public's response to your research is energizing and meaningful.»

The new Hungry Science format, where people can talk to a scientist in a café or bar, offers a direct dialogue between the audience and the expert. There is no barrier here, as in a classical lecture; it is more like a friendly discussion where debatable topics are explored from different angles with experts.

Art & Science Weekend underscored the power of collaboration and interdisciplinary inquiry. Organizers hope it served as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue and reflection, fostering a more inclusive and compassionate society.
Art & Science Weekend is part of the «Zug um Zug Demokratie» project by «WIR.DE Aktive Nachbarn» and is part of the federal program «Demokratie leben!» funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.