The world is getting older. In 30 years, the number of people over 65 will have doubled. In the same period, current forecasts predict, a simultaneous decline in birth rates will create a population with more than twice the number of older people as children under the age of five. In 1990, 54 million people worldwide were 80 or above; by 2019, 143 million will be. That’s almost three times as many. And by 2050, the number of people over 80 will almost have tripled again, to 426 million!
The consequences of this demographic development are becoming increasingly visible, especially in the industrialized countries. All areas of society, across generations, are confronted with fundamental questions about being human, individual living, and creating a fair society.
Japan and Germany are among the fastest aging nations in the world. Although these countries are different in many respects, the problem of an aging society affects them equally. What cultures of aging are found in these two countries? How do they differ, and what might they learn from each other?
Age(ing) is both a profoundly individual and a public matter, a fact and a future shared by all people. But in many ways we know very little about it. This concerns not only the biological aging process, but also, for example, the mental and spiritual possibilities development that come with increasing age, the structures of care that allow old people to both offer and receive support, the (unequal) social conditions under which people age, and the (culturally shaped) ideas, values and images of age(ing) as well as their impact on people’s identities and actions.
With PLUS – A Project for an Aging World we ask: What is age(ing)? How do we want to age? How can we age? What do possible futures of old age and ageing look like? How are our ideas of age(ing) shaped? Do we have to rethink age(ing)? And last but not least: Which questions have we not yet asked ourselves?
The Playing Field
Inter- and transdisciplinary collaborations promote mutual understanding and provide incentives to overcome disciplinary limitations.
Over the course of several months, the project will provide an experimental forum for visual and performing artists, writers, designers, and filmmakers to exchange ideas and address emerging issues of age(ing) with social scientists, gerontologists, physicians, psychologists, philosophers, and all interested parties of all generations.
Building on the facts of scientific research and supported by the contributions of the participating public, artists will attempt to develop new perspectives on an increasingly problematic global development.
In research-based but artistically realized productions – performances, exhibitions, lectures, installations – as well as in workshops, international symposia, and screenings, the project collaboratively and intergenerationally explores the many dimensions of age and aging.
Talks by and with experts and artists are one part of our project. The other part is an ongoing exchange and interaction with those affected, in each generation. All of us.
In several workshops, participants have the opportunity to take part in the creative processes of the artists: As viewers, as co-creators, or as part of a performance.
The events will use digital means to expand the possibilities of participation for all interested parties. Exhibitions and performances will be made accessible virtually and can be experienced independently of time and place on the computer, via smartphone, or as a virtual reality tour with VR headsets. Symposia are broadcast live and offer the opportunity to join in the experts’ discussions.
Illustrations: Miki Kadokura