In this Chinese-German dialogue series scientists and artists from both countries enter an interdisciplinary exchange on essential issues regarding the Anthropocene. The focus lies on the element of water, which is the topic of ecological and philosophical debates as well as the subject of artistic works.

The online dialogue series is organised by the “Chinese-German University College” of Tongji University Shanghai and the “Theatre of the Anthropocene” of Humboldt University of Berlin. Project partners are the Chinese-German University and the Chinese-German Campus of Tongji University, the Alfred-Wegener-Institute and the Shanghai Theatre Academy. The event series is financially supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


of humans and the sea

Guests of the first Sino-German Dialogue are the polar researcher and director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Professor Antje Boetius and Professor LU Zhibo, Vice Dean of Environmental Sciences at Tongji University Shanghai, who jointly discuss “The role of the ocean for life” and “ Human impact on the fragile ocean ”. The academic exchange is accompanied by dance and song performances of the Shanghai Theater Academy and a musical reading by actress Bibiana Beglau and harpist Amandine Carbucci. You can see and hear texts of Charles Baudelaire, Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Hebbel and Friedrich Hölderlin, as well as music of Claude Debussy and Albert Zabel. This creates an interdisciplinary and cross-border exchange with the sea, which is dedicated to the challenges that the age of the Anthropocene presents to mankind.

See here the scientific-artistic contribution of Prof. Antje Boetius, the actress Bibiana Beglau and the solo harpist of the Bremen Philharmonic Amandine Carbuccia in German translation. With texts by Charles Baudelaire, Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Hebbel and Friedrich Hölderlin as well as music by Claude Debussy, Kurt Weil and Albert Zabel.

the knowledge of water / literary seafaring

The event leads from the water of knowledge into the world of literary seafaring. The focus is on the element of water, the transformable substance of life that shapes our planet and has inspired art and philosophy.

Guests are the German literature and cultural studies scholar Professor Joseph Vogl from the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin with a contribution on “the significance of seafaring for European culture” and Professor YU Mingfeng from the philosophy faculty of Tongji University with a lecture on “water as the archetype of Chinese thought”.

The academic exchange is complemented by a multimedia performance, that features a solo dance by Ziv Frenkel on motifs from the Daoist story “The Frog in the Old Well Hole” by Zhuangzi. The film sequences are shot by the underwater photographer CAI Songda at the Institute of Environmental Sciences of Tongji University. The German text is spoken by Claudia Burckhardt, a long-time actress with the Berlin Ensemble. The Berlin-based student WANG Xinyuan and the Guqin teacher YANG Linchi accompany the performance musically. In this way, an interdisciplinary and cross-border exchange is created that addresses the challenges that the age of the Anthropocene poses to humanity from the perspectives of both science and art.


resource of life

The third German-Chinese online dialogue “Me(er)tamorphosen” focuses on socio-ecological issues concerning the element of water.

Professor LI Fengting, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tongji University elaborates on the potential of a triangular cooperation between Germany, China and Africa in the field of water management. The environmental scientist and anthropologist Professor Jörg Niewöhner, Director of the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys) at the Humboldt University of Berlin, will then present the various functions of water for different social actors in hydro-territorial spaces.

Following the scientific exchange, there will be a screening of the experimental short film “Medea” by the renowned Chinese avant-garde director SU Xiaogang. The film was inspired byHeiner Müller’s piece “Despoiled Shore / Medea Material / Landscape with Argonauts” and transfers the myth of the Medea and the seafaring Argonauts into a Chinese setting. In SU’s work, which was produced exclusively for the German-ChineseDialogue of Science and Art, a dry volcanic landscape of Inner Mongolia serves as the backdrop of the story. The contrasting elements of fire and water create a dynamic tension, that also raises the question of man’s relationship to the forces of nature.