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Symbiotic Politics

An immersive symposium fusing

art, design, architecture,

sciences, technology and futurology

to facilitate alternative positive futures.
September 7-8, 2023

Closing reception Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m.

(exclusive invitation for press, fellows, partners)

re:future lab I SPREEHALLE


The Experience.

If you are a change enthusiast, HOLITOPIA is for you.

HOLITOPIA is an annual symposium to explore alternative futures and open the vast fields of human fantasy. It has been tailored for innovative businesses, futurologists, strategists, facilitators, applied scientists, creative and cultural practitioners, as well as to curious minds beyond all disciplines.

Forget about the typical gap between stage and audience. 

The experience. 10 top-notch artists and experts (urbanists, anthropologists, economists, system designers, architects, philosophers, nature scientists, and a composer) in one place at one time will share their ideas, visions and expertise—unfiltered

This is a forum to re-think, co-create and dream. A set of undisciplinary discursive formats, art performances, interactive experiments and unpredictable interventions, will be presented to you in an immersive setting. This is a chance to experience art as an equally valuable form of knowledge transfer. 

This year’s theme, Symbiotic Politics, focusses on urban and biological speculations, resonance, ethics and technology, human machine interplay, zero-carbon societies, vertical ecologies, new urban realities, system design, and the catalytic power of art.

Once you enter the space, the story has already begun. 

Sept 7, 2023, 16–19.30

Keynote, panel, shared practice
What Can Art Do for Us?

Enter a forest of wonders. Day one explores the fractal dimension of our realities, the non-linear quality of time, the creative drive of art, and the poietic power of the Unknown. It will delight anyone dealing with innovative projects in the arts, the creative and media industries. While cultural shift is crucial in times of upheaval, what can art do for us? How to widen imagination and install positive narratives?–It's a call for creative intelligence to defy fundamental change.

Sept 8, 2023, 10–17

Keynotes, panels, open debates

How to Unlock Futures?

Day two deals with symbiosis as a co-design process, the perception of interconnectedness in cultural context, and restorative design in complex environments. It will explore Life at the edge of time: human-machine co-habitat, human-nature hybridization, restorative design, and new urban realities. It is suited for architects, urbanists, scientists, and anyone dealing with bio- and green energy, mobility, technology, and social and business transformation. How to form reliable knowledge in the age of AI? How to reconnect with nature, and vegetalize our work, education, and civic spaces?

List of Contributors.

Jan BERGER (strategist and futurologist, Berlin), Prof. Dr. Joanna BRYSON (professor of ethics and technology, Berlin), Prof. Pelin CELIK (professor for industrial design and system design, Berlin), Ludwig ENGEL (urbanist and futurologist, Berlin, Amsterdam, Zurich), Prof. Lukas FEIREISS (curator, editor, researcher, and educator, Berlin), Prof. Sigurd LARSEN (architect, Berlin), Ayumi PAUL (artist and composer, Berlin), Chloe PIENE (visual artist, New York, Warsaw), Madeleine SCHWINGE (curator, futurologist, and facilitator, Berlin), Johanna SEELEMANN (conceptual designer, Reykjavik, Leipzig), Ian Erik STEWART (Neuroscientist, Berlin)


For short bios, see here >


Moderated by art critic and educator Kimberly BRADLEY >

Conceived by curator and futurologist Madeleine SCHWINGE

Program day one, Sept 7

Sept 7, 2023, 16.15–-16.45
Opening Keynote
Madeleine Schwinge, curator and futurologist (founder of re:future Lab)

Creative Intelligence in Epochal Shifts

There is no doubt that we are living in times of major flux. Shaken by polycrises, we find ourselves in the midst of an enormous transformation process. Is there any hope at all? How do we find new orientation, creativity and the courage to build viable alternative futures? Madeleine Schwinge, urges us to install a multi-faceted alliance between art (image), design (form) and architecture (space), forming a united frame to dialog with humanities, natural sciences, and technology. Her stance is to go beyond disciplines and disseminate a holistic model of ‚Creative Intelligence‘, conveying fundamental drivers of radical change: serendipity, symbiosis, interplay, fiction, flux. While bringing together post-disciplinary practice, experimentation, process and the tearing apart of verticals, HOLITOPIA stands as a space of interconnection, co-creation and flux. 

Sept 7, 2023, 17–18.30
Shared practice
Ayumi Paul, artist and composer

All Eyes Hear

All Eyes Hear is grounded in the artist's continuously expanding archive of rituals and practices of wholing. The shared practice invites participants to explore the fractal dimension of our realities and the non-linearity of time to co-develop languages that elevate our states of sensitivity. Recognizing our bodies as interfaces that connect beyond matter, the edition created specifically for the symposium is dedicated to the birch tree and its tongues and includes a concert and practices such as lucid dreaming and a participatory ritual-performance. In Paul's work co-shaping in the invisible realms is manifested as an artistic practice of creating relationships. It asserts that the 'intelligence of the we' must be recognized, and can only be transmitted through the experience of it. Inventing and being invented simultaneously.

Sept 7, 2023, 18.45-19.30
Chloe Piene, Madeleine Schwinge, Prof. Lukas Feireiss

We are the revolution

Art is a proposal to re:think! The artist and the public conceive their practice of art as a constructive creative activity. This is the exercise of a poietic power. Aesthetics experience can lead to symbolic action. Art can exert a whole range of norm creating effects in society. Thus, Art in the 21st century is more than ever a social practice—and a call to act! 

Program day two, Sept 8

Sept 8, 2023, 10.15–-11
Ian Erik Stewart (Neuroscientist, PhD researcher, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Biology, Berlin)

Optimistic Synergies between Art and Neuroscience

Science and art have reinvented themselves over and over in the last decades, and in doing so, more and more reinvented our lives and their meanings. The impact of neuroscience on our (self-)understanding as individuals and in society looms large. How can we steer towards an optimistic outcome, and how can synergies between art and (neuro)science bring us forward? From the perspective of a societal impact, what prospects and concerns emerge from commercial applications of neuroscientic knowledge? How can art exist in a synergistic feedback loop with science, to achieve the need for inclusive, transparent and experiential scientific promotion?

Sept 8, 2023, 11–11.45
Prof. Dr. Joanna Bryson, anthropologist, professor for ethics and technology (Hertie School—Center for Digital Governance, Berlin)

The Incredible Algorithmaticity of Being

Life is the algorithm that perpetuates itself—all our sociality and phenomenology come down to this. We can trace through the utility of cooperation, competition, emotions, perception. So what separates us from machines? Can machines have a place in the human social order?

Sept 8, 2023, 11.45–12.15
Jan Berger
(Strategist, Founder Themis For
esight, Berlin)

Zero-carbon Ecologies

By 2030 zero-carbon solutions could be competitive in sectors accounting for over 70% of global emissions (United Nations). This implies fundamental spheres such as energy, transport, built environment, and resources. Yet, severe issues remain to harness bio-fuels, deliver safe cycling routes, scale-up workplace retrofitting, develop green spaces and streets. While in megalopolis such as London, Paris or Berlin, zero-carbon is inscribed in the mayoral term, how to convert potentialities into realities?

Sept 8, 2023, 11.45–12.15
Prof. Dr. Joanna Bryson, Jan Berger, Ian Erik Stewart


‘Even if humans become to machines what domestic animals are to humans, they will still live. Man will probably be better off in the domesticated state than in the wild state in which he now finds himself.’—Samuel Butler (Erewhon, 1872) 

Sept 8, 2023, 14.15–14.45
Prof. Sigurd Larsen, architect, professor for Interior Architecture & Design (Berlin International University of Applied Sciences)

Creating in Complex Environments

Architect literally means “master” (arkhi) “builder” (tekton).  In highly turbulent and unstable contexts, architects can no longer ignore the environment, they now inscribe their practice into a composition in interaction with space and nature. In times of restriction, precaution and frugality, the new generation of architects is taking on a new thought-provoking role: (re)composing and (re)building. What if scarcity was a source of inspiration? How to renew in times of restoration?

Sept 8, 2023, 14.45–15.30
Prof. Pelin Celik, professor for Industrial Design, and System Design at (HTW University of Applied Sciences, Berlin)

System Design, a model to world-building

System designers do not solve problems, they manage messes! 

Interdisciplinary at its core, System Design seeks to create desirable and sustainable changes in behaviour and form, of individuals, systems and organisations. It embarks on the extension of design skills in non-traditional territories, thus resulting in non-traditional outputs (new roles, systems, or policies). Even though ideation and decision-making are a tricky task when operated in unexpected and unpredictable situations, such situations can be sources of opportunities.

Sept 8, 2023, 15.30–16.15
Ludwig Engel, Johanna Seelemann, Thanos Petalotis

Matters of Co-Habitat in Vertical Sociotopes

‘Cohabitation, characterized by mutual help or fragile truce, can result in symbiogenesis, the appearance of new bodies, organs, and species—in other words, evolutionary novelty.’ Lynn Margulis (Symbiotic Planet: A New Look At Evolution, 1998)

There is great value of transforming urban landscapes. We spend over 80% of our time indoors. The enrichment of our work, education, retail and civic spaces offers benefits to both people and business. As well outdoor, living walls are proven to reduce air pollution, aid biodiversity, uplift people, and meet sustainability targets. This panel brings together a futurologist and urbanist, a conceptual designer, and the co-founder of a sourdough bakery that focuses on natural fermentation and local sourcing to discuss vertical communities in a cohabitation perspective.

Sept 8, 2023, 16.30–17.30

Collect and Reflect

Debate and discussion.

Sept 8, 2023, 17.30–18.00

Chat and network

Open end.

The Venue

HOLITOPIA takes place in SPREEHALLE, site of the re:future lab, on the grounds of former AEG transformer factory. The halls are located in a vast industrial building complex on the banks of the Spree, in the district Berlin-Schöneweide, designated as one of Berlin’s „Zukunftsorte“. 

The SPREEHALLE building complex was renovated by London-based architectural bureau FeildenCleggBradleyStudios, receiving in 2018 the Otto Borst Prize for Urban Renewal and nominated for the BDA Architecture Audience Award.

The premises have become a vibrant creative hub, housing artists' studios, exhibition spaces, and creative agencies. Besides being an attractive location for academia, business, and technology, the area Schöneweide-Adlershof combines the groundbreaking and new with the old and established when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit and urban planning and architecture—which makes it a most fitting location for HOLITOPIA.



valid until August 20, 2023 

199 euro + VAT 19% 



from August 21, 2023

269 euro + VAT 19%



Limited amount of ticket for students under the age of 28. If you feel you are eligible too, drop us an email >

99 euro + VAT 19%

If you prefer to book outside the e-shop, drop us an email >

Get in touch with us for the circle bundle offer, a member of our team will contact you to present all benefits and features. Don't miss your chance, drop us an e-mail >

You feel a sense of kinship with us?

re:future lab brings a super-culture shift to innovative companies, creative industries and art institutions that feel hamstrung by over-calibrated, standardized process and solutions.

Our strength lies in our ability to fuse the most avant-garde discourse and practice in art, design and architecture with futurology, science and technology.


Rooted in a model of Creative Intelligence, we offer undisciplinary services in the form of research, advisory, facilitation and curation.

Join a community of trailblazers.

Find out more >

"Art has a fundamental role, as a space for experimentation of the social"

Dr. Emanuele Quinz / art and design historian, curator
University Paris 8

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