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The search for truth is probably as old as mankind itself. So are lies and deceit. Secrets and conspiracies are uncovered or swept under the table. Like a red thread, the human game between truth and falsehood runs through history. According to his apostle John mighty Jesus also knew about the revolutionary potential of truth: "It makes you free" was the message. Catch 22: To be God's disciple was the condition. Can man lease the truth? Like a timeshare principle? As the Roman author Aulus Gellius stated already around the 100s, who constituted the truth as "daughter of time"? Every epoch, every generation plays anew. Only the basic conditions change, the basic principle remains the same: truth or dare?
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
― Oscar Wilde
Fast Forward to 2019: A new level in this game, including a threatening boss, is upon us: The destruction of our natural resources on this planet by the ongoing climate crisis. It seems paradoxical: Overall, humanity has probably the best level of education to date, the technical possibilities to share knowledge, regardless of location, almost free of charge, and through projects like Wikipedia more open than ever before. Nevertheless, humanity is stumbling into a danger zone from which there is no turning back. Driving against the wall at full throttle is an understatement. But which mechanisms - which power mechanisms - prevent the unfolding of the long known potential of shared knowledge? Which interests stand in contrast to the manifold and promising solutions in the fight against the boss? Power and truth - the core of the conflict?
"Knowledge is power, and not knowing does not matter". That was postulated by Spontis in 1970s Germany. In times of a networked and mobile information society this would probably have to be modified: "Knowledge is power, knowing everything doesn't matter either". This impression can arise, because despite the almost barrier-free access to an infinite amount of factual knowledge, misbelief, esotericism, religious fanaticism and sheer ignorance are still widespread. Or is the nonsense only more visible because the so-called social media are so easy to use, because Silicon Valley data billioneers can invest a lot of money in idiot-proof user interfaces? And what role do mainstream media still printed on paper play in this game? Or is it the commercial television garbage of the 80s and 90s that is at fault? The educational systems of the 21st century should also look in the mirror and recognize that radical changes in media and technology must also lead to radical changes in educational mediation.
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
― Mark Twain
"Lies have short legs" is the saying. But they seem to run faster than the truth, said Mark Twain. Did he expect that 200 years after his death this would be valid in fact? The launched falsehood, which is causing a sensation, is racing digitally around the globe, while the corrected statement is still tying its shoes, and is thus drowning in the race of information sovereignty. Message control and framing are some of the tools used by small bosses in the great game of power. Who will win? Or is the only profitable move the one not to play?
"The Truth is out there."
― FBI Special Agent Fox William Mulder
Elevate does not search for the extraterrestrial, but Mulder is right: The truth is out there, and there is a lot to discover in the festival's discourse programme, because the themes are multi-layered and above all worthy of intensive exploration.
The grand opening at the Orpheum in Graz on Wednesday evening will focus on activists who are committed to important socio-political issues in the spotlight of the public. The star guest of this year's festival is Pamela Anderson, actress and model with an enormous global reputation. Some know it, but for many it's new: Pamela Anderson, known for years as an animal rights activist, has been campaigning for other topics as an activist for quite some time and has thus attracted a lot of attention. Recently, she criticized the political development in Italy and took on the right-wing Foreign Minister Salvini; she commented very aptly on the Yellow West protests in France and regularly communicates topics such as the climate crisis or migration via social media. She makes clever use of her celebrity status and thus reaches a large public. The Croatian philosopher Srećko Horvat, on the other hand, as co-founder of the DiEM25 movement, is very active in European politics and will speak about philosophy, truth and activism at the festival. An ARTE team will accompany Pamela and Srećko "through the night" in Graz. Nnimmo Bassey from Nigeria, winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize "Right Livelihood Award", has been campaigning for years for environmental protection and against climate change and will speak at the Elevate Festival about the developments of recent years and the African perspective: Is it still possible to avert the climate crisis?
Philosophy, media and journalism will open the discursive cycle at the Elevate Thursday. University Prof. Dr. Peter Strasser starts his search for the truth after the truth after the truth in his introductory lecture at 12 noon... Afterwards, Julia Herrnböck and Florian Skrabal from Dossier will provide deep insights into the methods and possibilities of investigative journalism and explore the potential of international research cooperation with Romanian corruption investigator Paul Radu, who will also be able to answer questions on the subject during a Q&A for the Austrian premiere of the documentary film "The Panama Papers". The role of language itself, as well as questions concerning the media, journalism and trust, will be discussed in two high-level panel discussions. In the evening we return to the beginning of the day and thus to philosophy. The Croatian philosopher and DiEM25 co-founder Srećko Horvat titled his lecture "The Truth Will Set You Free?", with a question mark.
At Kunsthaus Space04, however, there is a new edition of Elevate's cooperation with the representation of the EU Commission in Vienna. A panel discussion on a current topic of EU politics: "Fake News and Disinformation Campaigns" and their influence on political opinion-forming processes. Shortly before the EU elections the planned measures of the EU Commission are very topical and will be discussed critically in this open forum.
The Friday programme focuses on topics such as science, art, technology, fiction and immersion. A series of lectures on the one hand critically deals with technologies and scientific developments, on the other hand the potentials and connections of different methods are discussed. The lecturers and discussants are particularly colourful, and thus the only obstacle to an inspiring and interdisciplinary exchange between artists, scientists, activists and nerds is the time limit of the programme. From 10 am in the morning (workshops with Xenia Ermoshina and InterACT - Laboratory for Theatre and Socioculture) until the end of the documentary film "Trust Machine" at about 11 pm, there will be a dense programme of 10 events.
At the Elevate Saturday, the programmatic pendulum will again strike in other directions. Two workshops focused on self-empowerment on the topics of democracy and community building offer a positive introduction to the day when a few tough nuts will have to be cracked later. Right-wing extremist structures in Austria and their networking to an "Internationale of the Nationalists" are the focus of Andreas Peham, an expert in his field working at the DÖW. Thomas Moser, one of the best informed experts on the NSU complex, will then report on how quickly right-wing extremism can become right-wing terrorism and what the truth is about in the investigations of the worst right wing terrorism series of the 21st century in Germany. The author and journalist Mathias Bröckers then provides conceptual and historical clarifications on a combat concept of psychological warfare. Conspiracy theories are not only a problem in right-wing extremism, but have also become much broader in social terms. A fishbowl discussion following this lecture will deal with ways and means to take the wind out of right-wing extremism's sails. But that's not all: Two more evening panel discussions will follow, high-level and potentially controversial with renowned personalities. From the Intelligence Community researcher at Graz University, Siegfried Beer, the up-and-coming German philosopher Jan Skudlarek, the anti-corruption veteran Peter Pilz, the filmmaker Paul Poet, to the sociologist Laura Wiesböck from Vienna University: the topics range from the Echo Chambers of communication to secrecy and the suspicious shredding of secret service files to preserve "national security".
Sunday will then be dedicated to, among other things, the aforementioned boss: the climate crisis and its already serious consequences for many people, which can manifest themselves in armed conflicts and trigger flight movements. As always, we will start in the morning with a workshop with the Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey. The second workshop on Sunday is thematically unrelated, but all the more exciting: Together with Wikimedia Austria, Elevate presents a session on a relatively new project from the Wikiverse: WikiData. In the afternoon there will be four more events on the topic of climate crisis and migration. The first will be a discussion on climate truths and climate lies, which in contrast to the historical parallel of fact- doubt-opinion manipulation by tobacco companies in the 1970s and 1980s is likely to have much more serious consequences. The Professor of International Politics, Amanda Machin, conducts research on climate policy, the renowned climate expert Gottfried Kirchengast heads the Wegener Centre for Climate and Global Change, climate geographer Mathis Hampel conducts research on the interaction between climate science and climate policy, and Mira Hapfinger is an activist in System Change not Climate Change. Roxana Baldrich is a member of the International Climate Policy team at the NGO Germanwatch and works on topics such as climate-related migration, displacement and climate lawsuits. She discusses with Nnimmo Bassey climate change as a reason for migration. The Graz-based human rights activist Doro Blancke talks about the reality of the tightened conditions in the Austrian asylum system under the current right wing government.
Many topics in a total of 33 events of the Elevate discourse program, which, by the way, will exceptionally introduce the Elevate Week with a world premiere of the documentary film "The Mission of the Lifeline" at Schubertkino on Monday, February 25.
"The truth is you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed."
A lot of substance and intellectual debate in the discourse programme, a lot of inspiration, exciting encounters and above all a broadening of consciousness - with the expanded art programme and an overwhelming music line-up - in the Free Space of the Elevate Festival Experience this will certainly succeed.
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