Humboldt Forum

Humboldt Forum Highlights Talk #5: Experienced – Recounted – Claimed

Press release

Berlin, 21 January 2019

On Monday, 18 February 2019, at 7:30 pm, as part of the Humboldt Forum Highlights season, the Humboldt Forum will host the discussion Experienced – Recounted – Claimed at Podewil, Klosterstraße 68, 10179 Berlin. Six experts will take two Humboldt Forum Highlights – a Mayan war vase and a statue of Prince-Elector Frederick III – as their starting points to discuss methods and half-lives of historical narration. The discussion will be moderated by actor and journalist Paula D. Koch. The event is part of the 100 Years of Revolution – Berlin 1918/19 commemorative season.Admission is free of charge.

You can register to attend until 17 February 2019 at Media representatives should please contact Michael Mathis at for mandatory accreditation.

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. A fact is a fact is a fact. Although the repetition is intended to stress the meaning of these words, nothing is really gained. In absolute terms, language does not allow for plural version of truth, nor any graduation of correctness. “Truths” or “more correct” ought not to exist. And yet truth is experienced and interpreted differently, and differently communicated depending on the aim and intention, whether in verbal anecdotes, written in letters, newspaper articles or tweets, or captured in pictures, engraved on objects, manifested in statues or on Wikipedia. The flow of information may often be initiated conscientiously and to the best of the initiator’s knowledge, yet as often as not is also manipulated, distorted and abbreviated in the advancement of one’s own interests, or those of others. That is, and has always been, the case in all cultures and at all times. But how were stories communicated in the past? What special practices and options exist today for relating truth? How are events interpreted as truth at all? These questions will be examined by six experts in three discussions inspired by two objects that are to be presented as Highlights in the Humboldt Forum.

The first discussion will be on the subject of Revolutions Past and Present. Martin Düspohl, curator of the Revolution Room in the Berlin Exhibition, will be talking to filmmakers and directors Moritz Riesewieck and Hans Block on the mechanisms of revolution. What triggers revolutions and how are they prevented? What was this like in the past, and how does it work today? The second discussion focuses on the Mayan war vase. How did the Maya record their history? Who commissioned the work? How do we record history today? Who are the chroniclers of our times? This will be the topic of conversation for Nikolai Grube, Mayan expert at the Universität Bonn, and Franziska Heine from Wikimedia Deutschland. The statue of Prince-Elector Frederick III by the Dutch sculptor Bartholomäus Eggers is the subject of the third discussion. How do rulers and elites change, stage or manipulate the history books in order to create facts that work to their advantage? Where do journalists act to correct the picture, or fan the flames? These will be the topics for Thomas Biskup, a historian from the University of Hull, together with Kristin Joachim, a television correspondent at ARD’s Capital Studio in Berlin.

Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck are theatre and film directors who develop cross-media narrative forms under the name Laokoon. Their debut film The Cleaners had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2018 and won numerous awards. Martin Düspohl is the curator for the Revolution aspect of the Berlin Exhibition in the Humboldt Forum. In the past he has organised exhibitions on Berlin’s urban development, and the social and migration history of the city, and most recently was co-curator of the exhibition Berlin 1918/19 – The Long Life of the November Revolution at Märkisches Museum. Nikolai Grube is professor for Ancient American Studies and Anthropology at the Universität Bonn and has participated in various research projects in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras. He was also involved in numerous exhibitions and publications as a scientific advisor for Mayan culture. Franziska Heine is the head of software development at Wikimedia Germany. She has conducted scientific research into software for analysing video recordings, has worked for eBay and HERE Technologies and is active in the Arbeitskreis gegen Internetsperren und Zensur (Working Group against Internet Blocking and Censorship). Thomas Biskup is a lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Hull in Great Britain. His research interests include the political culture of European courts – with a special focus on the Prussian monarchy – as well as the history of science from a postcolonial perspective. Kristin Joachim is a television correspondent for ARD’s Capital Studio. She reports on subjects of national political relevance for the ARD programmes Tagesschau, Tagesthemen and Mittagsmagazin as well as presenting Bericht aus Berlin.

Inspired by the eponymous Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt and their delight in exploring the world and comprehending a system linking nature and culture in myriad ways, the Humboldt Forum will establish a new venue for experience, learning and encounter in the heart of Berlin. The presentations by the various Humboldt Forum institutions will bring together a wide range of topics from science and art, nature and culture, history and society, accompanied by many different perspectives from past and present, near and far. As a foretaste, the Humboldt Forum is already exhibiting fifteen Highlights: eight are on show on Berlin’s Museum Island and at the Kulturforum, while a further selection of objects are to be the focus for eight discussions held at locations throughout the city. Details of all fifteen Humboldt Forum Highlights as well as the full programme can be found at

Date Monday, 18 February 2019
Time 7.30 pm
Venue Revolutionszentrum in Podewil, Klosterstraße 68, 10179 Berlin
Language German
Admission free of charge
Registration by 17 February 2019 at

Block 1 Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck and Martin Düspohl
Block 2 Kristin Joachim and Thomas Biskup
Block 3 Nikolai Grube and Franziska Heine
Moderation Paula D. Koch, actor and journalist

Drinks and snacks will be on offer before the start of the event and during an informal conclusion.

Organizer Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss

Participating institutions Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz with the Ethnologisches Museum and the Museum für Asiatische Kunst of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kulturprojekte Berlin with Stadtmuseum Berlin, and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, with the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss at the helm.


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Press contact

Michael Mathis
Press Officer Cultural and Digital Communication
+49 151 1617 97 27,