June 17 2017

How modern can we be?

Is the west a museum of modernity? Have ideas and ideals about individualism as one core of modernity led to smugness among western civilizations? Is that about to change? Let's see today on day 2 of Digital Bauhaus Summit 2017!

As french philosopher Bruno Latour put it recently, westerners seem to think they live after the apocalypse, with history having ended after the cold war. A whole generation lived with the angst of almost certain obliteration. By time, it seems, the west forgot that it inflicted several apocalypses all over its periphery, colonizing it, making it its subject.

And yet, there lies a promise in "modernity", a promise of renewal. Today's conference at Digital Bauhaus Summit will take a peek at possible ways of how things might get better, eventually. Even though our times are perceived as global crisis (Brexit, wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, populism all over the place, ubiquitous terror). The conference is split into two sets: "Museum of Modern" and "Peak Individualism", both hosted by Holm Friebe.

“Museum of Modern”: Nice to look at, maybe, still, with not much use anymore? That, dear friends, we shall find out. To reach a postcapitalist perspective that goes beyond seemingly "simple" solutions like degrowth and basic income, westeners should learn about things like the "African Bauhaus", emerging in Sub-Saharan Africa. In today's talks we find out about African countries that rediscover and update their traditions and how social design in Chile, for example, is reclaiming egalitarian modern ideals. Eckhart Nickel will lead us to "Rimowa World", inhabited by travellers who embody modern existence.

Now, part two of the conference, "Peak Individualism" guides us through even trickier territory. Indivdualistic livestyles have become a core element of how westerners "read" modernity. Seemingly, this has evolved into quite a narcissistic notion, only considering one's self-fulfillment. There are quite a few developments today which speak for changes in such attiudes. Is western individualism keeping up with "eastern collectivism"? We'll find out with Emily Segal who coined the term "Normcore" or Katja Kullman, who'd like us to re-read and re-use IKEA's Billy shelf as a political symbol.

Off to new frontiers? Photo: Thomas Müller
Off to new frontiers? Photo: Thomas Müller

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