Forum on European Culture

Forum on European Culture

This summer, De Balie proudly presents the fourth edition of the Forum on European Culture.

This Forum focuses on the meaning and future of democracy in Europe. Since the war in Ukraine, it has become more and more clear that democracy is no longer an abstract self-evidence, but a fragile construction under pressure. How does Europe deal with technological developments, its history of colonialism, imperialism and autocratic influences? And if Europe wants to be a democracy, what actions are needed? De Balie brings together artists, activists and intellectuals to explore democracy as a cultural rather than a political expression.

31 mei – 04 juni


Wed. 31 May | 20:00 – 21:30 | Agnietenkapel

Fatma Aydemir: The state of European Literature

The State of European Literature is a yearly lecture given by an internationally renowned author or poet. With this year Fatma Aydemir as speaker. The state of European literature raises awareness of the central role of literature in the current and future state of Europe.

Thu. 1 June | 17:00 – 18:00 | De Balie | Grote Zaal

Peter Frankopan: Opening Forum on European Culture

Peter Frankopan, author of the international best-seller The Silk Roads (2015) will open the fourth edition of the Forum on European Culture. During the opening night of the Forum, Frankopan will deliver a keynote address on this year’s central theme ‘a culture for democracy’.

Julian Hetzel

Thu. 1 June until 4 June | 10:00 – 21:00 | De Balie | Pleinzaal

Studio Julian Hetzel: Land of Plenty

In an attempt to shift perspective, Studio Julian Hetzel invites a group of ‘alternative’ experts to engage in a series of dialogues that open up new pathways to escape the status quo.

Over four days of interviews between experts and invited guests, speakers of the forum, audience members and potentially also with you, a choir is being formed. The multitude of voices creates a temporary snapshot of the socio-economic aspects of coexisting in the land of plenty.

Thu. 1 June | 18:45 – 20:30 | De Balie | Filmzaal

Turn your Body to the Sun

The incredible story of a soldier of Tatar origin who was captured by the Nazis in World War II. Now, through his diaries and various personal and public archives and records, his daughter Sana is trying to retrace the trail of her silent father.

Thu. 1 June | 20:00 – 21:30 | De Balie | De Salon

Tino Sehgal: New rituals for 21st Century Europe

At any time and in any place, societies have created rituals to celebrate their own fundamental values: from the tragedies of Greek antiquity to service in medieval churches. But what are the binding forces in today’s highly individualized, fragmented and diversified society? When and where can individuals perceive themselves as citizens of a democratic European society? Because we cannot talk about a culture of democracy unless that democratic culture is felt and internalized by a sufficient number of its citizens. Tino Sehgal will share his ideas of new rituals for contemporary Europe.

Thu. 1 June | 20:30 – 22:30 | De Balie | Grote Zaal

Take the Rubbish Out, Sasha

In the series Endless February, Frascati Productions and De Balie offer a human face to the war in Ukraine. Contemporary Ukrainian plays are presented in collaboration with director Iana Gudzenko and actress Alesia Andrushevska.

Fri. 2 June | 16:30 – 18:00 | De Balie | Salon

A Culture of Genocide

European history is steeped in violence, war and genocide. How have these events shaped the Europe of today? And how should reflection on that brutal past play a role in shaping the future of Europe? During this programme Piotr Cywinski, historian and director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and writer Arnon Grunberg will take a close look at Europe’s darkest hour.

Fri. 2 June | 17:00 – 18:30 | De Balie | Grote Zaal

Peter Pomerantsev: How we connect in the public digital space

For centuries, ‘the Forum’ was the centre of day-to-day life in ancient Rome: the site of processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, and the heart of commercial events. In modern life, we have the Internet. And how’s that working out for us? In this programme, we debate the need for a new online public space as an important element of democracy.

Fri. 2 June | 19:00 – 20:30 | De Balie | Filmzaal

On the state of European Cinema

In times of crises, the scales of film industry always tip towards the commercial side. Cinemas were already struggling with the rise of streaming services, when the pandemic lockdowns eradicated the habits of cinema-going. As a result, the sales agents, distributors and exhibitors became cautious about acquiring any film that doesn’t guarantee profit.

Fri. 2 June | 20:00 – 23:00 | De Balie | Salon

European Literature Night 2023: Between Utopia and Dystopi

Europe has a long tradition of utopian and dystopical novelists. ‘Utopia’ from the sixteenth century by Thomas More or ‘Brave New World’ from the twentieth century by Aldous Huxley. But what future do contemporary authors envision? Should literature alert us, congratulate us, or inspire us with hope?

Fri. 2 June | 20:30 – 22:00 | De Balie | Grote Zaal

Eline Arbo & Natalie Haynes on European Tragedy

Ancient European myths and stories tell us about the history of Europe and its people. These stories have shaped our European identities. Together with classicist Nathalie Haynes and director Eline Arbo we talk about what these ancient stories can tell us about Europe today and the world we live in. Can we draw moral lessons from them? And how do we deal with their predominantly male perspective? The conversation is going to be shaped by the fragments of classic texts that will be read during the programme.

Het Tula Monument op Curacao ANP/Hollandse Hoogte/ Robin Utrecht

Sat. 3 June | 15:00 – 16:30 | De Balie | Salon

How Europe says sorry

Last December, Dutch prime-minister Mark Rutte formally apologized for the colonial past of The Netherlands, after years of grappling with the colonial legacy. He acknowledged the damage our state has done to enslaved people for hundreds of years and the effects this still has. Is apologizing the right approach to take and if so, what is the right way to apologize? With leading thinkers from different European countries, we’ll discuss how we are to deal with the crimes of Europe’s colonial past.

Sat. 3 June | 16:00 – 18:00 | De Balie | Grote Zaal

The Killing of a Journalist

“The Killing of a Journalist” tells the story of the 2018 murders of OCCRP’s Slovak colleague Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. An investigative journalist who used leaked police files from the murder investigation to uncover vast corruption at the highest levels of Slovak society.

Sat. 3 June | 18:00 – 19:10 | De Balie | Filmzaal


In Housewitz, daughter and filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk investigates why her mother Lous has refused to leave her house for decades. Lous is a typical “Yiddish mum”, an eccentric, smart, compelling mother with a cutting sense of humour. In her own created isolation, she travels the world via her TVs and computers. At night, she watches the programme die Schönste Bahnstrecken to keep recurring nightmares at bay. Nightmares that keep taking her back to the day she was taken from her home as a Jewish girl and put on transport. Towards the end of her life, Lous opens the door and lets her daughter in with her cameras.

Sat. 3 June | 20:00 – 21:30 | De Balie | Salon

Ece Temelkuran: The dilemma of climate democracy

While some propose new institutional forms of public consultation to circumvent political inactivity, others believe it is necessary to act more quickly. In her writings and speeches, journalist and author, Ece Temelkuran, emphasizes the urgent need for global action to address this existential threat to humanity. During this programme, the following question will be examined: can we save the planet without breaking the system?

Sat. 3 June | 20:30 – 22:00 | Grote Zaal | De Balie

Theatre of War: The Persians

With every war, the first stories we hear are the ones of the direct victims, the people who fled or try to survive in their home country. But what are the perspectives and thoughts of those who come from the occupying state that launched the war? Listen to The Persians, the most ancient work of European drama, performed by actors Victoria Koblenko, Gijs Scholten van Asschat, Janni Goslinga and Hans Croiset.

Sun. 4 June | 13:30 – 15:00 | De Balie | Salon

Simon Schama: What history teaches us about pandemics

Three years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world and left a deep imprint on society. But the wave of panic, competitive vaccine research, economic impact, and distrust in medical science have already occurred. In his new book Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations (2023) the internationally renowned historian Simon Schama shows how the world has survived similar pandemics before. How should we look back on the way we dealt with COVID-19? And how can societies prepare themselves for new viruses to come?

Sun. 4 June | 14:00 – 16:00 | De Balie | Grote Zaal

Letters on Democracy

How can the future of Europe be imagined? What are threats to European democracy, and what should we pay attention to? We asked five writers to envision the future of Europe. Whilst looking at the past writers from all over Europe predict the present in a letter on democracy.

Sun. 4 June | 15:30 – 17:10 | De Balie | Filmzaal

The Lost Leonardo

In 2005, an oil panel depicting Christ attracts the attention of two art dealers. Behind the shoddy restoration, they believe they see the hand of a master. For $1,157, they buy the work. Within 12 years, it is worth $450 million. The most expensive painting ever sold.

Sun. 4 June | 19:30 – 21:00 | International Theatre Amsterdam | Grote Zaal

Sign of the Times: A Culture on Democracy

De Balie and ITA present a one-off collage performance directed by Ivo van Hove about the state of democracy in Europe. With a special performance of one of the most famous historians worldwide: Simon Schama.

Sun. 4 June | 20:00 – 22:00 | De Balie | De Grote Zaal

Film + Q&A: How to Blow Up a Pipeline

European society is torn between eco-activism, climate change denial, reckless consumerism and fatalism. As various climate tipping points are nearing and the experts warn us that time to act is slowly running out, some people have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Sun. 4 June | 20:30 | Frascatie

Olivia Laing: The struggle for bodily freedom

In ‘Everybody: A book about freedom’, Olivia Laing charts an electrifying course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to explore gay rights and sexual liberation, feminism, and the civil rights movement.

Illustrated by fragments of new work by performers interacting with Laing’s philosophy and sharing their visions for the relationship between bodies, politics and freedom.

More information on the website of the Forum on European Culture.