At the beginning of WHICH FUTURE ?!, international researchers and around 250 participants worked together on a fictional, but evidence-based (crisis) scenario for the next ten years – in 13 workshops over one day in the whole of the Deutsches Theater building.

On 16th September 2017, at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, 13 workshops were formed to kick off the series of events. Together with experts from international, private and public research institutes, we invited people to write a tale of the next ten years that would seem as plausible as possible. We negotiated facts, knowledge and models, but also fears, hopes and desires on the topics of economy, society, climate, nutrition and identity. In the various workshops and together with experts, the 250 participants devised a future scenario based on studies, research projects, forecasts and scenarios. The results were then brought together and pooled in a plenary session. The lab worked for one day in the whole of the Deutsches Theater building.

As a starting point, we set out a fictitious crisis in 2026, which was to plunge the world into a depression. Out of this, questions emerged about those responsible and about the processes that would need to take place or indeed be averted. This is how we came up with a thinking space in which we could decide whether this, or indeed a different future, is what we want. 

PARTICIPATION

Participation in the lab was free and open to all. If you wanted to take part, you decided on a workshop and registered for it online. In preparation, the workshop facilitators provided the first scenarios in their respective topics as suggestions and proposals. Anything and everything was possible: the EU could collapse, the AfD could appoint the Chancellor, the Deutsche Mark could make a return, the next real estate bubble could burst in China, a new VR game could keep people from showing up at work, a new drug could cure cancer, the oil industry could save the climate and Daniel Libeskind could build united Korea’s new capital in the demilitarized zone ...

THE WORKSHOPS

The course of the next ten years was developed in two workshop sessions: 2018 to 2025, or the path to the crisis, were covered in the first workshop round. In the second, the extent of the crisis itself would be described in more detail.

ECONOMY I: FISCAL AND OTHER ARMAGEDDONS
ECONOMY II: PATIENT ZERO – DEUTSCHE BANK, THE INDEX-CASE PATIENT
ECONOMY III: ARMAGEDDON
ECONOMY IV: THE PATH TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS
LAW & LAW: LOSS OF THE STATE?!
RISK MANAGEMENT: GOOD ADVICE – EMERGENCY STOCKS ...
ENERGY TRANSFORMATION
WEATHER: A NEW REALITY
GEOPOLITICS: INTERSECTIONS
WORK: A FUTURE WITHOUT EMPLOYERS?
IDENTITIES: HOT AIR
ELITE & DEMOCRACY: ROLE REVERSAL
AGRICULTURE: COFFEE SHORTAGES AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES

PLENARY SESSION

All participants of the workshops met on two occasions in plenary sessions. Moderated by Ulrike Hermann and Adrian Taylor, the results of the workshops were compiled, arranged and rearranged at the scenario table on an interactive timeline, until a plausible narrative emerged from the various fragments and theories. History was made…but wasn’t without its frictions. There were discussions and debates about which events could be judged as the strongest triggers for the global crisis, and whether their course seemed plausible.

OBJECTIONS

The participants observed the event from the stands and always had the opportunity to comment, to add comments, and to object. They could do this either via handing out notes, or by sending their objections and comments via smartphone straight to the plenary team.

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THE CRITICS TABLE

Joseph Vogl, literary, cultural and media scholar from the Humboldt-Universität of Berlin was in attendance. He critically accompanied the lab day and gave us a final keynote over the course of it. Joseph Vogl is considered to be one of the most astute analysts of our prevailing economic doctrine. In his latest books, "The Ghost of Capital" and "The Sovereignty Effect," he questions the belief in the invisible hand of the market, and the inherent power structures of the current financial regime. At the same time, Vogl is also a critic of 'rhetorical cavernous bodies'. He is a repeat offender of generating escalations, punchlines and easy to understand hypotheses.

 Joseph Vogl at the critics table © Eike Walkenhorst

Joseph Vogl at the critics table © Eike Walkenhorst

RESULT

At the end of the long lab day, numerous events were placed on the digital timeline, creating a rich narrative leading through from 2018 to 2028. These narrative fragments were used by Andres Veiel and Jutta Doberstein as a starting point for a theatreplay, which will be written over the coming months and premiere in the Deutsches Theater in September 2018.

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But before that happens, the story of the laboratory should again be questioned in further detail. Because a terrorist organization was formed and the American secession wars of 2022 foreseen - but there was no common vision, and only harsh contrasts, on what form of government is to lead us through these crises and how we are to be paid for our work, if we even continue to work. We naturally didn’t want to accept this, and thus invited experts, activists and interested citizens to once again jointly design models for the future of work and democracy, in a symposium organized by the Humboldt Forum in April 2018. In "The Next State - Rethinking State", WHICH FUTURE?! enters it’s second round…

 

Report on the laboratory on TV (3sat Kulturzeit)

 

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