„WE LIVE IN A WORLD IN WHICH WE ARE BECOMING INCREASINGLY DEPENDENT ON ONE ANOTHER AND YET AT THE SAME TIME ARE TURNING MORE AND MORE AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. WHY ARE PEOPLE HOSTILE TO WHAT CONNECTS THEM, TO WHAT THEY HAVE IN COMMON - THEIR HUMANITY?“(Arno Gruen, „Der fremde in uns“, 2009)_________________________________________________
The festival, based in Leipzig with over 1.500 guests and more than 60 participating international artists, creates an access to the culture of digital art in the form of an exhibition, workshops, performances, lectures and concerts and deals as a platform for networking, knowledge sharing and education.
Under the theme "The stranger within us", based on a lecture of the german psychoanalyst Arno Gruen in 2009, the exhibition invited the guests to experience several interactive artworks from international artists with all senses and to reflect the loss of empathy in our society with the consequently personal and political consequences.
Empathy is a basic quality of all living creatures, protecting us from losing our humanity. It is the core of human nature and thus of our individuality, but when our individuality is scorned and must be split off as if it was not a part of us, empathy cannot develop freely. Our capacity to empathize with others withers away. The process by which one‘s individuality becomes something foreign prevents people from relating to one another in a humane way-with compassion, sympathy, and mutual understanding. Instead, an abstraction underlies our relationships.
The stranger is the real victim within us. The self has been distorted through being obedient, which makes it almost impossible to recognize what is really happening. Obedience, one could say, serves to subordinate oneself to the oppressor but also to disguise his deeds. In other words, obedience reinforces power, making it impossible to direct one's bottled-up rage against those who are responsible for it. But the rage is there, as is the hatred for the victim in us, who must be rejected as foreign in order to accommodate those in power.