The Edge of Knowledge (TEOK) is an informal lecture series, where uncommon, unexpected topics are presented in someone’s living room. Short presentations are interspersed with video breaks and drinks, with topics ranging from food to the cosmos, internet memes and personal obsessions, seeking to offer an alternative look at the cultural outputs of the contemporary – and a window into the fantastic, rich ensemble of people that live and work around us.
TEOK was founded by Juan Palencia and Vera Sacchetti in early 2014; the series’ inception was sparked by curiosity. As expats living and working in Basel, the TEOK co-founders were genuinely puzzled by the amount of interesting people to be found in the city, not to mention its cultural capital and international aspect.
The foundation of TEOK hinges on the belief that all of us, in the cities we live in, know more about something than anyone else around them; should they share their knowledge, the lives of those who surround them will become better. The event series advocates the dissemination of knowledge in its most pure incarnation, and no topic is considered unfit for a TEOK lecture. Sharing is caring and TEOK is the living proof of this assertion.
Throughout the years and until this day, TEOK has grown in scope and complexity, with the community around the project growing organically. The original concept of an intimate event is still maintained and continued in Basel, while simultaneously developing partnerships and collaborations with cultural institutions in the city. Furthermore, TEOK’s impact has outgrown the city of its origin: Today, TEOK is present in Madrid, Santiago, New York, Berlin, Rotterdam, Lisbon and A Coruña. New expansions are currently under development, reinforcing existing networks and uncovering new possibilities of collaboration, creating new modes of inspiration and spreading what we’ve come to believe is a good virus — and it all started in Basel.
Up to this day, more than 65 events have been organized, involving 120 lecturers and hosts, partnering with 3 cultural institutions, and impacting a community of over 1,300 people in the different cities where TEOK is based. Drawing initially from the interests and intellectual pursuits of those nearer to the co-founders in Basel, we ended up getting in touch with several fascinating individuals and institutions, all of which merely confirmed the suspicion that gave rise to TEOK in the first place; we find that what we are actually doing is a survey of the cultural outputs of the contemporary, creating a window into the fantastic, rich ensemble of people that live and work in our cities.
While TEOK gains a standing in other contexts, reinforcing existing networks and uncovering new possibilities of collaboration, it simultaneously creates new modes of inspiration and spreads what we’ve come to believe is a good virus. This immaterial impact, intangible and immeasurable, is for us the most rewarding aspect of TEOK.
The repeated observation that the events stay in the minds and hearts of people has made us wonder if in contemporary society, where the Taylorist conception of work and production is currently falling into decline and constantly being questioned, there can be new models to inspire and encourage work and production – in our particular case, the production of knowledge. And if TEOK is not just an opportunity to disseminate, but to generate knowledge itself, capturing the essence of the contemporary.