Updated: Nov 22, 2018
Lots of us question about our world, our identities, technology and science, eventually our future, do you? I bet you are.
I was looking for a location for our Digital Calligraffiti event, therefore I came across to Lutz, a friend who is currently working for visitBerlin. Lutz is a very nice and talented person, he could speak in I don't know how many languages and hold always impressive projects, he also gave us a chance to shoot MC Romano's music video Copy Shop in Hong Kong in 2017. Lutz suggested me to check this event #QBERLIN, I had a look and found out one of the speakers is Joshua Wong.
Immediately I want to get in touch and go to the event since I did a series of artwork "Reinterpretation － Free Men | 重新演繹 － 自由人" last year for the FO YOU exhibition, and the artwork concept is based on the incident that Joshua Wong and his two other pals were convicted and jailed because of their roles in massive protest Umbrella Movement in 2014. I wanted to give him and his friends the artwork to show my respect to their activism, and tell them their braveness and sacrifices have inspired and awaken many young and Hong Kong people. Althrough the artwork wouldn't help much, it was just a sign of support and appreciation. I was in several protests since 2009 in Hong Kong then Berlin, it was nothing compared to their persistence. They paid their price of fighting for democracy in Hong Kong eventually, that's also why Joshua Wong was not able to come, instead, his friend Ivan Lam represented the both of them to attend the event and give a speech to Berlin audiences.
Lutz was very kind, he and his colleague Antonia arranged a ticket for me. Therefore I promised to write a post about the event. I may not cover much but I'm trying my best.
Set over two days, the program of Q BERLIN QUESTIQNS 2018 featured distinctive voices of our time in dialogue with each other and the audience, discussing the questions and challenges of our times. The event held 3 sessions of discussion based 3 different topics. So, whatever your questions are, some might be answered at the event.
Social + Economical Equality
What is the fair balance between individual and collective interests?
Starting with the brilliant ceremony master or session moderator Talia Sanhewe, I did learn a lot from just listening to her, how she connects the audience and how short she could lead you to a story. Following next is Christian Rickerts – Permanent Secretary, Senate Department for Economics, Energy & Public Enterprises. And then next with MELANIE RIEBACK, a female American who lives in Netherlands now and found the world’s first non-profit computer security consultancy company Radically Open Security. And then BJÖRN BÖHNING, the State Secretary and Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. In between another session moderator ALI ASLAN introduced Joshua Wong, who couldn't come as if I mentioned above. Wong appeared on the screens and an about-6-minute speech came along. Ivan Lam was the last speakers of the first session.
Honestly I can't document the whole content and list it here, what I could do is I pick the statement or message that caught my attention the most and share to you here.
"All for one, one for all."
VICENTE FOX Politician & President of Mexico 2000-2006
"Set up a non-profit business."
MELANIE RIEBACK CEO, Co-Founder Radically Open Security
"We are not the one who need to fully obey and loyal to the uprising China model."
Jushua Wong Student activist & politician
I might not fully understand some of what the speakers said, but these are what I got, more, but I try to keep it simple and on point. I hope there will be a video showing you the whole conference and what all the speakers said. First section passed quick, we had a lunch break. Many audience were busy at catching the speakers and continuing their conversations.
Once the first section was over, my eyes kept searching for Ivan Lam, he disappeared fast, and Lutz hook me up with his other colleague and introduced my purpose of joining the event, to pass the artwork to Ivan Lam. His colleague showed me around, we couldn't find him, but she asked another staff and said that he would be at the event until 18:00, so I had time.
"There he is!" Lutz said, he introduced us to Ivan so I and Ivan started chatting. "Oo..waw, In such many people I coincidentally meet a Hong Kong person here!" Ivan found my attendance surprising. "It was not accident or coincidence, I came because of you." I explained to him. I began to tell him why I was there and express my esteem to them. I also explained him the meaning of my artworks and hope that he can pass the artworks to his friends and tell them their volition and persistence are fully respected even in somewhere far from Hong Kong.
In Chinese, 「自由」means "freedom", and 「人」is "human", but if we put「人」inside a big square or a mouth 「口」, like four walls surrounded, then it becomes 「囚」, "prisoner". I built a boxing ring around the three words, the first two words become no word, words that are non-existing, that the young people fight for their freedom, at the end they became prisoners. That's the new interpretation of free men.
At the end I passed the artworks to Ivan and later on he was surrounded by audience around his age. I'm happy that young people are inspired by him and his friends. Although there were quite some food choices and they all look attractive, I didn't grab much but I did try some important things e.g. the sweet stuff.
Anyway my stomach is filled with ideas and information. I couldn't wait for the second section:
Ethics in Science + Tech
What is the moral balance between innovation and human interests?
I went back to the main room and hopefully found better seat and shooting spot to take photos from other angle. This time I sat in the middle. Moritz left after the first section so I was there alone and prepared for what would come next. A Hong Kong person (later on I got to know his name is Jacky) chose to sit close to me, I didn't know he is from Hong Kong until two audience chose to sit in between us, that they asked Jacky if he came to the conference because of the activists from Hong Kong. When Jacky told them yes and he is from Hong Kong, I jumped in their conversation at once "Me too!".
We talked about the situations in Hong Kong. Jacky explained he came to Berlin with his family, that he also worries about the future of Hong Kong. And I told them what Ivan told me, that it seems like the generation that is younger than Ivan in Hong Kong, they don't concern much about their home city or its politics as much as Ivan and the students around their age do, which is sad, but perhaps they are too young to understand? Also, the younger generation learnt Mandarin much earlier than us I guess, they might don't get why we are fighting for our mother language Cantonese. Just my guess, plus more reasons.
When I went back my home city especially last couple years, I was often told "If you have chance to leave Hong Kong, you should just go.", or "Don't come back! Why you come back?" How could I? How could I not go back, to a place where I grew up with and I love very much, to my home where my beloved family, friends and former colleagues are still living there? People usually misunderstand and they think, "If you leave Hong Kong, you don't have to care that much." They don't understand, that in fact is harder (to me), and painful, to live somewhere else such far, but you care your home a lot and you couldn't do much. That was always one of my struggles. Everyone has their own.
I left before the movement started, which I somehow predicted that if one day something like that as if a protest happened, I would miss something, and it did happen, just the movement scale was much larger than I thought. However, I wasn't sure whether it is a bad or good thing that I wasn't in Hong Kong at that time. As I knew lots of friendships and families were broken because of different political opinions and perspective. I felt really bad that I was not next to my friends and relatives even my brother when they were fighting for Hong Kong democracy or whatever they think that is unreasonable. I also had the idea, "Was that actually better like that way?" Below is another artwork "Umbrella Movement" that I did for the Umbrella Revolution, a movement that occurred in Hong Kong for almost two months in 2014.
Ok, enough for this, let's go back to the topic.
The second section was about the science and technology. Began with JUAN ENRíQUEZ. Juan is a Mexican-American academic businessman and speaker. He works in business, science, and domestic and international politics. I like the example he gave that there are bad cop and good cop wearing black hat and white hat in the classic cowboy movies, and showed the type that is in between who might wear a hat with black and white straps.
After his speech, the 2nd session moderator LéA STEINACKER, raised the first question from the audience, due to Juan showed an image with emoji icons illustrating nowadays how sex is different from the last generations, said that he also couldn't predict what is coming next to us. The questions was "What will sex be in the future?", LéA STEINACKER gave an example and pushed the question further "Will men carry baby (being pregnant) in the future?". Everyone laughed in the room and some women surely would like to know the possibility.
"What if the people from pharma industry want to make money and save life?"
JUAN ENRíQUEZ Mexican-American academic, businessman
"Facebook is worse than a fax machine."
BRUCE STERLING Science fiction author & journalist
"It is not about how to bring back the extinct animals, it is about how to prevent the existing animals towards extinction."
VALERII PLOTNIKOV Department of Study of Mammoth Fauna, Academy of Science, Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
"Online sexual harassment is not less than offline in Pakistan."
NIGHAT DAD Founder & executive director, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)
At the end the four speakers asked question to each other, when BRUCE asked NIGHAT about the situations in Pakistan, NIGHAT mentioned that her female friend got killed couple years ago. This reminded me when I and the WENU crew had the chance to go to Pakistan for a project called "I am Karachi", I did research related to the project and there was a short documentary about a female health worker and her team were threaten by the men who try to stop them from vaccinating children against polio, her children were afraid of their mom will be hurt like her colleague and told her not to go out and work, the woman said in the documentary that if that's her fate, then let it be, it was her duty, and later that woman was brutally shot dead in the public.
It was really sad. My crew mates didn't want to go as they could see how dangerous it is, they concerned their responsibility as being a new father, which I totally understand. They warned me also out of concern. At the end the project didn't happen anyway, due to other reasons.
Another session is finished and a coffee break came after. Jacky, who sat close to me, came to say hello. The conversation with Jacky raised a question to me, even he didn't ask. This question is around my head for days, this question existed before, it came back to me from time to time and I might always know the answer... somehow, I didn't want to have that answer.
Jacky was kind enough to stay until short before the session 3 started. We exchanged contacts and he became the 3rd person I met in Berlin who lives in Berlin that speaks Cantonese in the past 6-7 years. Well I should really speak German tho, but my life somehow doesn't allow me to learn seriously e.g. to take a course. (I did actually 13 years ago) I have to say it also because I put other things in higher priority in last several years. Maybe one day.
Last but not least, the final session of the day had come.
Cultural Identity + Empowerment
What is the personal balance between thinking differently and mutual understanding?
"If people tell you NO, just keep doing it."
CHAD SANDERS, Tech Entrepreneur, author, executive producer
"Try to spare a life of a mosquito."
DANIEL DOMSCHEIT-BERG German Activist & IT Security Expert
"This country needs us to tell the truth."
Styli Charalambous Publisher & CEO Daily Maverick
The session ended with LEONA BERLIN, a vocalist from Germany, with the performance of two songs from her "Feel The Love" and "Free".
The event program didn't end with that. Dinner and more performance were awaiting. At the end our friend MC Romano came to perform whose had his birthday that day. The host prepared a cake and it was given to Romano. It was indeed such an amazing event with full of inspiration and eventually more questions that I brought back home. If you want to participate in the next Q BERLIN QUESTIQNS, keep an eye on their website. The host announced that the event might go to other city next year, who knows, maybe yours.
I didn't have time to edit all the videos I filmed at the event, but here is a very short one. I hope you get this strong message from the former president of Mexico.
Thanks Lutz again for the invitation and of course, anyone who made this event possible!!