A relation is an unusual sort of thing. Lived in real time, it exists in a space between, dynamically responding to bodies embedded in feedback loops that encircle not just one another but a milieu rich in unpredictable stimuli. The promise of sympathy is this common ground, at once assumed and remade in the trading of affects.
We tend to think of sympathy as a relation between persons. But in the fourth century BC, Greek philosophers started to talk about sympathy as something diffused throughout the world, affecting human and non-human bodies alike. What is at stake in expanding our own concepts of sympathy today, beyond communities imagined in human terms? In doing so, what kind of relation do we open up with the past and those long dead? How do these experiments in sympathy affect, in turn, how we come to be with one another – our living in shared space? And in ways might these questions help us, according to the rallying cry of the Association’s 2018 Annual Meeting, to “look out!”?
“On Sympathy” explores these themes on the occasion of an occasion hosted by acclaimed artist Isabel Lewis; the event is a collaboration with Brooke Holmes and Michael Squire, who have respectively led projects on “Liquid Antiquity” and “The Classical Now.” “On Sympathy” forms an experimental, collaborative and performative part of the respective research projects on Postclassicisms (Princeton University) and Modern Classicisms (King’s College London).
Lewis’ occasions are immersive, multi-sensory, ecological experiments in the cultivation of conditions for working through, collectively, the questions of living well and living together. Participants are welcome to join us at any stage during the festival (12:30–3pm), and to come and go as they please; the direction of the event will be led by Isabel Lewis, with the participation of Holmes and Squire, who will be joined by Chiara Cappelletto, and Esther Choi.
Isabel Lewis (b. 1981, Santo Domingo, DR) is an artist who works with sound, smell, installation and dance to create spaces of sociable encounter that accentuate bodily forms of knowledge acquisition. Lewis’ sensorial hosted occasions have been presented internationally – recently at Tate Modern (London), Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai), and Martin Gropius Bau (Berlin).