PHOTO BY MACIEK POZOGA

Maciek Pozoga / Webber, Dunes du Pilat, 2015

What is memory? What is presence? What is time, really? These questions are not what the work of Maciek Pozoga is about on the surface – when he travels to Bamako to capture the Afrofuturist music scene or when he hangs out at the street corners in the North of Paris, where he lives, watching the old and the young, the hustler and the everyman, with an intense curiosity that he elevates to both an artistic and ethical level. But if you look at these images a bit longer, if you linger, if you go deeper, you realize that here is someone who is in touch with a zeitgeist that goes beyond the superficial. His images present a very contemporary mix of longing and loss, a milky way of reality, fallen stars and other beautiful debris. There is a directness and an intimacy in his portraits; and the image we show is an example for this: playful, seemingly improvised and with an evocative biographical backstory - the people shown are Pozoga’s father and step brother.

Voices from the Past – Lessons for the Future

How Does Change Happen?

In order to drive change, we need to understand change. This is why we set up the programme “Voices from the Past – Lessons for the Future”, analyzing historic key-moments of transformation processes in Europe and beyond. The programme seeks to determine how legacies of collective movements of the past feed into contemporary or future movements. In extended filmed conversations with witnesses of past movements, the aim is to reflect on “lessons learned”. This allows for an exploration of conditions for successful transformative action.

Initially, this initiative will look at different protests globally, e.g., 1989 peaceful revolution in Germany or the 1956 protest in Hungary, as well as environmental movements as a transformative attempt cutting across a wider time span. Treating change as a generational practice as well as an exercise in memory, it will unveil the pattern of transformative actions, from the initiation of the Club of Rome at the end of the 1960s and their much-quoted publication “Limits to Growth” (1972) to more recent movements such as Fridays for Future.

THE NEW INSTITUTE will preserve important testimonies, intellectual insights and give voice to those involved in past protests that have not yet been sufficiently heard. The result will be a comprehensive collection of testimonies, the beginning of a global archive of change. The insights gained will have the potential to immensely support THE NEW INSTITUTE in drafting a viable agenda for action and change and, thus, in shaping the future responsibly.

For immediate impact, we will work closely with current activists to provide them with research, insights and advice by collective action experts as well as experienced activists. Further, we will engage with artists, filmmakers, activists, journalists, storytellers to conceive of how to narrate these relevant stories in the most immersive kind of way and bring the lessons to life. The programme “Voices from the Past – Lessons for the Future” will be a long-term interest of THE NEW INSTITUTE, triggering media engagement and institutional collaboration, workshops and multiple ways of coming together in the common endeavour to look back in order to forge our path forward.

Where do we currently stand and how to become involved

Working with eminent psychologists, the TNI has by now conducted a number of interviews with activists from different movements, ranging from the anti-nuclear movement, to the democratic movements in the former German Democratic Republic all the way to Fridays for Future. An archive of interviews that goes well beyond oral history and delves deeply into the psychological dimension of protest will be made available by the middle of 2022. If you are an activist and interested in contributing, please be in touch. If you wish to be informed about outcomes and new developments, we suggest that you subscribe to the THE NEW INSTITUTE newsletter.

Contact at THE NEW INSTITUTE: Johanna Gratzel, E-Mail: johanna.gratzel@thenew.institute

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