"Was tun mit der Welt?": Berlin's Thought-Provoking Campaign

Haus der Kulturen der Welt's Campaign Questions the State of the World and Our Relationship to It

March 07th, 2023
Chiara Maccio’, News from Berlin
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In Berlin, a thought-provoking campaign titled "Was tun mit der Welt?" (What to Do with the World?) has been making waves across the city. The campaign, initiated by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), features a series of poetic dialogues that can be seen on billboards and other advertising spaces throughout Berlin in the spring of 2023.

The HKW, which is tasked with managing a space that represents the cultures of the world, seeks to understand what is meant by the world and its many worlds. The campaign asks the question, "What to do with the World?" and invited twelve individuals from various disciplines and contexts to respond to it. From their perspectives in places such as Kathmandu, Paris, and Hawai'i, they shared their curiosity, concerns, hopes, and fears for the state of the world.

Each poster features a simple yet powerful message, such as "Save the Bees", "Protect the Oceans", and "Fight Injustice". The posters are displayed in prominent locations, including public transportation stations, city squares, and cultural institutions, encouraging viewers to reflect on the messages and take action.

Moreover, one responder, artist and researcher Zoe Todd, poses a simple counter-question: "What do these worlds have to do with us?" This sentiment is shared by poet Elicura Chihuailaf, who concludes, "The world asks itself: what to do with humanity?" Other responses invite us to reconsider our relationship with the world.

In the spirit of a dialogue that spans time zones and continents, the HKW invited Berlin-based artist, photographer, and activist Wolfgang Tillmans to engage with these responses and contribute to a visual intervention in the urban space. A selection of these poetic text-image dialogues can be seen on billboards and other advertising spaces in Berlin, allowing fundamental questions about the state of the world to resonate in the public sphere.

This campaign marks the HKW's departure from its physical space and a move toward engaging with Berliners of all backgrounds. The images and texts encourage diverse interpretations and allow the question "What to Do with the World?" and its possible responses to reverberate in the urban space. As the HKW reopens in June, this project offers an outdoor walk and an invitation to the public to bring not only their cultures but also their worlds with them.


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