STUDIO BONN. Listening to the Future
The Bundeskunsthalle Discourse Format

The Common Ground

Monday, 20 September, 8:15 pm, live in the Forum and livestreamed

Are political struggles drowned out by identity politics? Or do the growing self-confidence of minorities and the multiplication of perspectives simply reveal just how much (white, Western European, Christian) identity politics have always determined our society? How does embracing the new courtesies and agonising over the correct forms of expression affect the way we live together? Is freedom of expression under threat, or is it only just beginning to be being fought for? On 20 September 2021, journalist Petra Gerster and journalist Mohamed Amjahid will discuss these questions with Studio Bonn host Kolja Reichert in an installation by artist Verena Issel.

For more than twenty years Petra Gerster (born 1955 in Worms) worked as anchor for the ZDF’s daily news magazine heute – where she introduced the ‘gender star’ (glottal stop to signal gender inclusive use of gendered suffixes). Since her departure from the news at the end of May 2021, Petra Gerster has been writing a book on identity politics with her husband, the journalist Christian Nürnberger, which will be published in November (Vermintes Gelände. Wie der Krieg um Wörter unsere Gesellschaft verändert (‘Minefield – How the War Over Words is Changing Our Society’, Heyne 2021). At Studio Bonn, she will talk about her observations and thoughts for the first time in public.

In his books, newspaper articles and social media posts, political scientist and journalist Mohamed Amjahid (born 1988 in Frankfurt / Main) shows how structural racism works – and what a society and language could look like that afford everyone equal rights and respect. Mohamed Amjahid’s most recent publication is Der Weiße Fleck: Eine Anleitung zu antirassistischem Denken (‘The White Stain: A Guide to Antiracist Thinking’, Piper 2021), the one before Unter Weißen: Was es heißt, privilegiert zu sein (‘Among Whites: What it Means to be Privileged’, Hanser Berlin 2017).

In colourful collages and installations made of low-cost materials, Verena Issel (born 1982 in Munich) builds revenants of art historical forms – and questions their validity in the digital present, which is determined by a dissolution of forms. For Studio Bonn, Verena Issel transforms her site-specific installation SOFT RUINS (Aset in Tadmor II) (2018/2021) into a tv studio. The installation with ancient columns made of pastel-coloured foam was created in the wake of the destruction of the temple complex of Palmyra (also known as Tadmor) by the Islamic State in 2015. Aset is the Middle Egyptian name for Isis, the Egyptian goddess of destruction and reconstruction.