This online publication assembles the results and outcomes of the multi-disciplinary and long-term project “Dealing with Fear,” undertaken by Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart within the years 2007 to 2009.

The idea was to trigger a debate that would not necessarily provide efficient answers to practical questions, but create a space for reflection whose results could give insight into various understandings of the term “fear” and the idea of “dealing with fear.” The project comprised two international symposia, a group exhibition, and the so called 52-hour-lab, a weekend full of performances, workshops, one-on-one meetings, etc. dedicated to analyzing, discussing, articulating the different variations, languages, and expressions of fear.
The cross-disciplinary exploration involved current and former Solitude fellows, jurors of the institution, and guests—all specialists in various fields of the arts, humanities, sciences, and the business world. During the process of artistic practice, scientific research, and the common dialog on the notion of fear, the view on the central topic turned from a cultural and historic perspective on threat and fear as Angst or Furcht into a positive understanding of fear in terms of productivity for change and attempts to shape the future. “Dealing with Fear” was initiated as a central topic by Solitude’s jury chairperson Philip Ursprung, who we cordially thank for this stimulating impulse. The theme provoked a collective activity and with this documentation we invite all interested people to share the multi-faceted outcome.

Symposium I

Dealing with Fear:
What Holds Societies Together

Fear of unemployment, natural catastrophes, terror, and illness is interwoven with everyday life in today’s industrialized nations. Faith in the future, which inspired people after World War II, has been replaced with a diffuse fear of the future and change. What are the causes for this? Is fear the downside of the economic and military globalization process, an indication of its brutality and exclusivity? Do rulers stoke and exploit fear to keep societies in compliance with ideological pressure? How do insurers, investors and economists—the administrators of risk—react to fear? How do scientists deal with fear? How do artists, architects, musicians, filmmakers, and poets articulate this phenomenon? And how can this dynamic be analyzed and localized from a cultural and historic perspective?

As an initiative event, the three-day symposium Dealing with Fear: What Holds Societies Together took place October 18–20, 2007 at Akademie Schloss Solitude. On Thursday evening, the symposium was opened with the introducing lecture “Since When and Why Do We Fear the Future?” by Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Stanford University. On Friday, guest speakers focused on specific aspects of the central topic and discussed them with the current jurors. On the third day, fellows from various artistic and academic disciplines presented their work related to the question of dealing with fear, insecurity, and safety.


Symposium II

Dealing with Fear:
Part 1: The Artist’s Fear of Her-/Himself
Part 2: Fear of New Technologies by the Public

The second symposium explored two special aspects of dealing with fear: a subjectively experienced fear of existence and a socially experienced fear of the future.

The recognizability of the artistic author is the precondition of success in today’s cultural world, although or even because everything seems to be possible. Only those who find their own position—and can hold onto it—will find their audience. In addition to the type of artist who wants to be recognizable by specification, there are those artists who like to keep adapting themselves by changeability. But while the first type can no longer seek the “other” in his/her work, the “self” is excluded from the second type. The fear of establishing an artistic identity, which is too narrow or too open, too easily exchangeable with others or too far outside of conventions, is therefore always present during the careers of artists. What happens if the criteria of value change? Is misconduct in the cultural field—unlike in politics and economy—irreversible?

Since the 1990s, fear of new technologies is one of the major phobias, culminating in the turn of the century when the public was holding its breath in expectation of a world-wide computer breakdown. Besides a resistance to using machines, the public is afraid of engineering developments and scientific research in the fields of nano-technology, nuclear energy, genetic research, etc. and its possible manipulations and unknown invisible impacts on everyday-life and future generations. People do not look at technology as a product of the human intellect—like music, literature, philosophy, architecture—but rather as independent, as far from the differentiated reality of human nature and, in this sense, as a constant threat. What are the causes for this cultural fear of technology and how can one establish trust as the opposite of fear?

The symposium Dealing with Fear II was hosted by Akademie Schloss Solitude on October 30/31, 2008. It began with the lecture “‘faire l’âme monstrueuse.’ Produktionsstrategien der Angst in der künstlerischen Avantgarde” (Production Strategies of Fear in the Artistic Avant-garde) by Thomas Macho, Humboldt University, Berlin. In the following lectures and panels, a number of fellows, jurors, and guest speakers who participated in the two-day symposium posed the above mentioned questions and tried to find answers through their scientific research or artistic practices.


Exhibition / 52-Hour-Lab

[promise, practice, protocol—
performing future presences]

“The origin of hope is fear, and fear is still adapted to danger towards which, in every epoch, the arts are called so that they may forge another world. Always and no matter how: another world.”
(Romeo Castellucci)

[promise, practice, protocolperforming future presences] was a staged group exhibition in three episodes: opening, 52-hour-lab, and archive including research and practice by fellows and guests. At Akademie Schloss Solitude between May 14 and July 4, 2009, a multi-lingual temporary space was offered—a closed micro-universe that included its documented process. [promise, practice, protocolperforming future presences] was in search for moments of individual and social transformation—and how fear could be turned into a kind of hope in these moments.

The first opening did not show the status quo but the promise of what could be. The visitor was asked to move through a series of installations, a lab of fragments that were later open up for 52 hours promising an emergence of diverse processes, different positions, controversial discussions, and fragile hope.

During the 52-hour-lab from Friday, May 22 at 6 pm until Sunday, May 24 at 10 pm, the exhibition spaces and other rooms of the Akademie were occupied by artists, philosophers, scholars, and scientists. In workshops, lectures, presentations, round tables, and performances such questions as follow were posed: What am I doing here? Who speaks when I say “I”? What kind of “We” is produced in alternative structures of collaboration? This time, the visitor was invited to actively participate in the discursive, performative, and installative formats of dialog and cross-disciplinary practice.

With the second opening, the protocol of these activities was made public. During the 52-hour-lab, an open multi-media archive grew continuously and the final objects, art works, and left-overs of the various encounters, as well as, the documented live-performances were presented. This archive extended the previous exhibition and allowed the visitors and participants to search for traces of individual and collaborative approaches to the promise and the practice of dealing with fear.