Fascination with the Unknown

The Other

Workshops, Performances and Symposium

27 to 29 October 2016 | Leipzig

Conference | Fascination with the Unknown: The Other

Understanding others is one of our basic abilities and fundamental to social life. Yet, the question of how we understand and feel with others has been approached and answered differently by the scientific disciplines. The arts follow different strategies in putting their respective audience in the position of others.

The conference “The Fascination with the Unknown: The Other”, organized by members of the German Young Academy, brings together artists and scientists from different fields to enter a dialogue on the common yet mysterious phenomenon of understanding each other.

With the workshops, performances and talks, the symposium aims at integrating each participant’s valuable insights into an experience that is more than the sum of the individual contributions.


Friday 28 October 2016, 9:30-18:00

Location: Haus Steinstraße

Selected participants will be able to explore different ways of empathizing with and understanding the other in workshops under the guidance of professional writers, dance choreographers, theatre directors and meditation teachers to ground the theoretical exploration in experience. The workshops aim at enabling an experiential, very personal approach to the phenomenon of other minds.






Friday 28 October 2016, 20:00-22:00

Location: Die naTo

The performance session is open to the public and offers two artistic perspectives on the phenomenon of "the other". Martina Hefter and Gal Noar are performance artists with backgrounds in poetry and sign language interpretation, allowing for unique views on what separates and connects us. The live performances are framed by two short films, which both, in two diverse settings, transmit being a complex other in a strong social discourse and are selected exclusively for this evening from contributions to the short film competition "be a better being" ahead of the film festival in Berlin in November.


Saturday 29 October 2016, 09:00-18:30

Location: Die naTo

The scientific section of the symposium opens the discussion to the public. Psychologists and neuroscientists will describe the routes to how we understand and empathize with others, e.g. how children learn to infer what others think or believe, and show how differently empathizing and mentalizing can work across cultures. Philosophers will talk about the importance of pre-rational responses to others in ethical behaviour, and postcolonial researchers will address how literary representations of other ethnicities have tended to turn others into exotic representatives of hybridity or pre-modernity.