Karneval der Kulturen


THE IDEA BEHIND THE Karneval der Kulturen

Every year the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN celebrates one of Berlin's landmark events, the Karneval der Kulturen (KdK) - or: Carnival of Cultures. Regularly exceeding one million visitors, the event is a four-day urban festival of cultural riches and a platform for the proud expression of a myriad of cultural identities Berlin has come to represent.

The aim is not only to showcase different cultures but also to promote intercultural exchange. With the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN as the organizing body, the KdK seeks to provide a haven for cultural multiplicity and intercultural exchange. The public space becomes a place for self-(re)presentation and playing with cultural identities.

On stages and in the streets, world-renowned and up-and-coming bands and artists perform a variety of music styles: from reggae to chanson to classical sitar music.

Music and dance groups, both professional and amateur, and children and adults take part in the parade through Kreuzberg. From anarchic performance to traditional dances to mash-ups and remixes; whether high culture or popular culture, the Karneval der Kulturen carries many meanings.

Whether association, institution, theater, art school, youth or community club, ethnic organization, individual artist, musician, band or DJ, people and groups of all walks of life can participate.

The diversity of Berlin's artists and protagonists makes the KdK a place of emancipation and empowerment, enabling the formation of a public sphere characterized by heterogeneity, hybrid identities and plurality.

Karneval creates City.

Since 1996 the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN has been organizing the Karneval der Kulturen, a four-day festival, open to all, in downtown Berlin.

The KdK was established, on the one hand, to reflect the growing internationality of the city, and on the other hand, as a reaction to the increase of nationalism and racism within Germany in the 1990s. The aim of the KdK was to celebrate the city’s diversity, as well as allowing for minorities to make themselves more visible in the public. It was a clear positioning for the construction of a city based on inclusion.

Although the political situation has changed since the KdK's conception nearly 20 years ago, a pluralistic society has not yet been achieved. Racism is still an every-day experience. Not only is the current European political landscape being challenged by the resurgence of the far right, German society seems to not yet be in the position to treat the various cultural traditions and heritages of its residents equally. This becomes noticeable, for example, through the success of books such as Sarrazin’s 'Deutschland schafft sich ab' (eng. Germany Abolishes Itself), the tiresome debate on German 'Leitkultur' ('leading-culture') or the helplessness of the German language to describe a society not based on ancestry and ethnicity. It is easy to experience the mechanisms of discrimination in every-day life.

Today, the Karneval der Kulturen continues to create an artistic space that enables a plural, heterogeneous and open public sphere, even if only for four days a year.

For more information, visit the Karneval der Kulturen homepage at www.karneval-berlin.de

Karneval der Kulturen
c/o Werkstatt der Kulturen

Vassiliki Gortsas, Stefanie Schatte & Juana Awad

Wissmannstraße 32

D-12049 Berlin

Tel.: +49 (0)30 60 97 70 - 0
       +49 (0)30 60 97 70 - 22

Fax: +49 (0)30 60 97 70 - 13