Due to the current developments in Switzerland concerning the corona virus, we would like to acknowledge and address the risk of gathering while continuing to celebrate sociability and to focus on community. The duration of the occasion has been stretched over several hours to allow visitors to come and go as they please.
Isabel Lewis' occasions can be thought of as a ritual of gathering for the 21st century. They offer a liberalized form of attendance that allows visitors to linger for hours or just pass by. The artist created this format as a way of addressing an idea of composition that embraces rather than represses its lack of autonomy, its porosity, and contingency as a reflection on the nature of reality itself. For the opening weekend of Cabaret Voltaire, the artist responds to the moment by addressing our current fears of proximity and connection and tracing the ways these anxieties are built into a trajectory toward hyper-individualization and social atomization that begins with the rise of the scientific world view, puritanism, and capitalism and persists today in the social and political issues surrounding neoliberalism.
Lewis has since 2014 been developing an idea she calls “radical receptivity” which forms for her an alternative to modes of social interaction rather than conflict, coercion, and competition that seem prominent in the social exchange of capitalist societies. Lewis places a high degree of importance on the rehabilitation of senses beyond the visual as a way to become attuned with our environment and capable of responding to social and ecological crises. Her approach is realistic–there is no denial of the risk involved in making oneself vulnerable to another, to becoming “undone by each other”. In the words of Judith Butler, “one does not always stay intact.”
The occasions (2014–today) of the internationally renowned artist, dancer, DJ and theorist are considered celebratory gatherings of things, people, plants, dances and scents where visitors can drift in and out of attention and sociality. Disinfectants and refreshments are part of the hospitality.