Disruptive Fridays: a new cultural format Back

Disruptive Fridays: a new cultural format

Disruption Network Lab is an on-going platform of events and research focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. It is a Berlin-based non-profit that since 2014 organises participatory, interdisciplinary, international events on human rights and technology with the objective of strengthening freedom of speech, and exposing the misconduct and wrongdoing of the powerful. They develop work that advocates for the globally marginalised. Disruption Network Lab organises inter-disciplinary conferences at the interface of scholarship and politics, and local meetups. In 2020 they started a new on-line program: “Disruptive Fridays”, that allows them to keep working and developing new formats for cultural collaboration.

The goal of Disruption Network Lab is to present and generate new possible routes of social and political action within the framework of digital culture and information technology, shedding light on interventions that provoke political and social change. They offer a platform of discussion for artists, human right advocates, computer scientists, journalists, lawyers and activists to present their experience, their research and their actions – with the objective of sharing ideas and visions for a free internet and a modern democracy and strengthening human rights values and freedom of speech.

We spoke with Elena Veljanovska, responsible for the project ‘Disruptive Fridays – Tactics of Empowerment’ with which Disruptive Network Lab applied to our Culture of Solidarity Fund. She tells us this new format is a direct result of the pandemic. It started in April 2020 during the time of total lockdown in Berlin and by December 2020 it reached its fifteenth edition. The main reasons to move online were the impossibility to have analogue events and the growing need for discussion and exchange of experience.

Each edition of ‘Disruptive Fridays’ covers a topic like grassroots data analysis, leaking and whistleblowing, legal and human rights mobilisation, anticorruption, health promotion interventions, or the effects of information technology on civil society, politics, culture and the arts. Their goal is to continue the dialogue among curators, programme participants, researchers, experts and practitioners interested in media culture and social justice, as well as to foster the understanding of the impact of technology and politics on society.

During 2021, they plan to realise twelve editions of live streamed discussions, with three speakers per edition. Geographically they will focus on Central and Eastern Europe, but also expand the discussions to the USA, China, India and African countries.

“Disruptive Fridays” analyse matters of self-organised and technologically-based tactics of producing justice and promoting accountability. Their future live events will have a hybrid shape of direct and digital presence.

Their project contributes to a Europe-wide debate on current challenges and offers cultural responses. Cross-cultural dialogue is an immediate result of this programme, with deeper knowledge about European diversity being a great side-effect.

A shared European digital public space
With this project Disruption Network Lab are enabling spaces of care and solidarity to emerge; spaces open for thinking, sharing and discussion. “We are passionate about our work because it makes us believe that change is possible. We meet extraordinary people who risk everything because they believe in change and justice. We discover new fields of actions and build up contexts of social sharing by providing literacy and critical information on complex topics that are often difficult to understand, but deserve to be spread more widely,” Elena says.

Their interdisciplinary background enables them to shift between various topics on the intersection of art-culture-technology-investigative journalism-social justice.

As you might have guessed, they created a safe digital environment for participants, as they often work with sensitive information. Their independent digital environment is based on open-source software, to guarantee data safety but also to control the aesthetic end-result of each edition. Additionally, the technological independence allows people with poor internet connection to take part in the programmes, thus avoiding digital inequality. They invite you to join an upcoming session.

Granted: 24.000 euros