Newsletter May 2020

A post-COVID-19 scenario in which normalcy in social and cultural life will be completely restored is unthinkable.
This creates the necessity to
re-envision cultural space.

Picture a space for culture and the arts.  It may have any quality, any audience, any purpose.Most likely, our imaginary will conjure two types of cultural space, respectively a pre- and a post-COVID-19, each with its own set of norms, features, and attendance.

The need for new ways of making culture, community, and kin is emerging clear and loud, accelerating the development and experimentation with hybrid – physical and digital – spaces and platforms where cultural and social life can take place. We need to be daring, to push imagination beyond the mere proofing of social and cultural spaces as we know them against infectious disease. This is the unique, blank-page scenario that forces us to radically rethink public spaces for arts and culture, as well as access, formats, and boundaries. Aiming at radically re-envisioning cultural formats and spaces Hybrid Staging is a professional exchange and co-creation program involving a broad range of professionals from the cultural fields.

Kosmos, Hybrid Space Lab’s design for a superstructure overlaying the Humboldt Forum allowing Social Distancing

The pandemic-induced unprecedented situation of standstill constitutes a threat to cultural production and social life as we know them. The unprecedented acceleration of the ubiquity of digital technologies strikes as one of the most apparent consequences of this emergency. These reinforced or newly acquired online habits will most probably persist also after the lifting of the lockdown, radically affecting the way people interact and relate.

The accelerating pervasiveness of digitalization forces cultural institutions and actors to rethink their role as well as their practice, and fast. Experimenting with hybridity of content and formats has already been at the forefront of cultural and artistic practices for some time now, pushing the boundaries of creativity. This is questioning the role of producer and viewer along the way, increasingly involving audiences and activating co-creative processes.

As we have no choice but digital networks to access other people’s inputs, creativity, reflection and inner worlds, cultural institutions can step up to the challenge of radically rethinking cultural space. This brings to the fore pressing questions, such as what it means to stage performances, exhibitions, and other cultural events meant for hybridity as well as how to keep it relevant and engaging.

Kosmos, Hybrid Space Lab’s design for a superstructure overlaying the Humboldt Forum allowing Social Distancing

In this critical situation, Hybrid Space Lab is initiating the Hybrid Staging program, with the goal of developing spatial-conceptual approaches to support cultural collaborative interactions in order to actively shape these future hybrid (combined digital and physical) explorative spaces. Hybrid Staging is a professional exchange and co-creation program involving a broad range of professionals from the cultural fields, aiming at radically re-envisioning cultural formats and spaces.

How does the pandemic force us to radically rethink cultural formats and spaces?