The themes of this year's forum are food, space, artificial intelligence, water and communities. In each of these topics, we seek pathways to a freer and more just world. This year's program emphasizes interconnectedness more than ever before - not only how multiple crises are related, but also the importance and inevitability of both interpersonal relationships and those within a more-than-human world. No being is an island!
We’re opening the first day of the festival with an invitation to the table, to good food and debate, and the theme will be – you guessed it – food. Food is not just the satisfaction of a basic physiological need – it becomes a social event, an emotional, social and political phenomenon. Food shapes us not only in a biological-chemical sense, but also in a communal sense - through where we get our food, how we consume it, with whom we sit down at the table and what we don’t eat, we create and reproduce a network of necessary relationships that can be caring and sensitive. Through food, we encounter other people and the more-than-human world. Through it, we can care not only for ourselves, but for the whole community, which is made up of everything – from water and soil to insects or livestock to producers, suppliers, vendors, cooks… At this year's forum, we won’t just talk about food and sharing it; we’ll also be cooking, smelling and tasting to be closer to each other through it. We'll be asking about the possibilities of localism and how to provide enough food for everyone and save the planet in the process. To “put our money where our mouths are”, we've been exploring the topic of food and sustainability in our festival practice as well, allowing us to invite you to a festival that’s a little more palatable. You can look forward to vegan treats, edible merch and a unique festival dish made from local ingredients.
On Wednesday, we'll be taking visitors into space. Today, we have the opportunity to take part in the goings-on of the cosmos with increasing intensity. Far from simply visiting space to see what the world beyond Earth is like, modern technology offers us much more in this regard. And while we focus on how to keep our planet livable, it’s good not to lose sight of what’s happening beyond its borders. Let's explore together, through the Forum, how space research can help solve Earth's crises. And how can it be made to do so when it’s currently motivated primarily by profit? Where does the Czech Republic stand in space activities in the context of science, geopolitics and business? What can we learn from deep space and what does space research tell us about life itself?
Did you know that more than half of the human body is made up of water? We’ll be reminded of this on Thursday when we talk about water in all its forms. Despite the absolutely vital importance that water has for our world, we still tend to see it as a distant, disconnected entity from humans that we can exploit and one that will simultaneously devour and dissolve our mess in its oceanic mass. We see water as an inherently inexhaustible resource that we can use as we please while consistently ignoring the increasingly obvious warning signs that the opposite is true. How do we change our relationship with water and our relationships through water? What is life like below the surface and what impacts can deep sea mining have on it? Where and why are we lacking water and how are we dealing with this? And how are people's narratives about water changing over time?
On Friday, we'll talk about communities – a concept that, despite some lack of meaning, has come to symbolize for many a hope for overcoming current crises and a more just future. Whether we understand community as one formed to meet a practical need, as an activist association of like-minded people, or as a local community, such association presents many advantages but also potential pitfalls. Communities can mobilize resources and relationships more effectively than the state, they can have the necessary local knowledge and can nurture their members in a healthy way. But we also know communities that are exclusionary and destructive. Can community be the foundation of a truly resilient society? How can democracy be strengthened in and through communities? What does it mean not to belong to a community? Can the emerging community of cultural journalism transform the narrative of culture as a commodity? And what is the relationship of communities towards the institutions whose traditional roles they take on in some cases, i.e. the institutions of the family and the state?
At present, there is great reason to believe that artificial intelligence will continue to transform the world in fundamental ways. For us, this means a period of uncertainty and rapid, unprecedented change, the true shape of which no one will be sure of in advance. AI will undoubtedly transform the way we work with text and data, but it will also transform the role of the media, the nature of work and employment, social control and ownership. It can also be expected to have an impact on what we call democracy. In this year's forum, we’ll work together to imagine what the future will look like so that we can prepare for it; not only personally, but also civically and politically. On Saturday, we'll be asking each other what the implications of AI will be for our work, how to maintain control over it, and who actually understands it.