re:publica co-founder Andreas Gebhard: Going to Detroit is a matter close to our hearts

Andreas Gebhard

An interview with re:publica co-founder Andreas Gebhard.

Why is re:publica going to Detroit?
Detroit has been of great importance to the music and cultural scene in Germany over the past decades. Without the electronic music originating in Detroit there would be no techno; but conversely there would be no Detroit techno without Kraftwerk and Co. from Germany. There has always been a close connection here.

At the first re:publica in Detroit we hope to explore and discuss the situation of a transforming digital society with our participants! By working with our co-curators, who all have their roots in Detroit, we have succeeded in preparing a really interesting, multifaceted and exciting programme.

What topics is re:publica addressing in Detroit?
Detroit is a good example of the power a monoculture of the economy has in shaping a city and its development. We have had similar experiences in Germany. More than 20 percent of citizens have fled or moved away from eastern Germany since 1950 – the problems are very evident. In Detroit, in the city center, 60 percent of the inhabitants have moved away in the same period. So if we look at this from a German perspective, the change in Detroit is three times greater! Unimaginable really!

For some years now, an economic upswing has become apparent in Detroit. Start-ups are settling downtown and creating new opportunities and jobs – at least, judging from afar in Berlin. But the question is, who benefits from these economic opportunities and can participate in them? The same questions also arise in Berlin! Another parallel. More than ever, the fundamental question of access and participation arises both here and there. That's why we are dedicating ourselves entirely to the subject of "access" in Detroit.

Why should people from Detroit participate in re:publica?
We have an outstanding program with wonderful speakers. It is not re:publica that has the answers to the many questions that arise from the transformation into a digital society, but the participants from the USA, Europe and Africa. We have a unique opportunity to talk about issues and solutions. And I think we will have a lot of fun!