© Ivana Franke Studio "Retreat into Darkness. Towards a Phenomenology of the Unknown", ScheringStiftung, Berlin

AoN Symposium "Strategies of Wonder" organized by the Einstein Group “Consciousness, Emotions, Values” & the Berlin based Association of Neuroesthetics (AoN_Platform for Art and Neuroscience)
on the occasion of the 57th Venice Biennale of Art

This year's symposium of the Einstein Group Jesse Prinz explores art’s transformative capacity and the poetics of wonder. The experience of wonder arises when we are transported from our usual modes of interaction into an alternative realm, where things are imbued with new meaning and new possibility. Wonder can be induced by spectacle, ritual practices, but also poetic minimalism—by anything that defamiliarizes us with the commonplace or evokes a sense of reverence and mystery.


This AoN symposium invites artists and curators that have employed strategies of wonder or enchantment in their works and exhibitions. They will discuss their practices and engage with neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers that have worked on intense aesthetic experiences and emotions such as awe and wonder and their relevance for our life, for art, and for science.





3.30 pm

welcome and introduction

Elena Agudio & Joerg Fingerhut


3.40 pm

first round of presentations


Jesse Prinz & Joerg Fingerhut (philosophers)

Georges Adéagbo (artist) & Stephan Köhler (art historian and curator)

Stefanie Hessler (curator)

Ed Vessel (neuroscientist)


(short break)


5.00 pm

second round of presentations


Ivana Franke (artist) & Elena Agudio (art historian and curator)

Beatrice de Gelder (neuroscientist)

Jelili Atiku (artist)

Jeremy Shaw (artist)




The Einstein Group “Consciousness, Emotions, Values”, Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Association of Neuroesthetics



Georges Adéagbo (artist), Elena Agudio (art historian and curator), Jelili Atiku (artist), Joerg Fingerhut (philosopher), Ivana Franke (artist), Beatrice de Gelder (neuroscientist), Stefanie Hessler (curator), Stephan Köhler (art historian and curator), Jesse Prinz (philosopher), Jeremy Shaw (artist), Ed Vessel (neuroscientist).




Serra dei Gardini, Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, Venice, Italy

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Georges Adéagbo is a sculptor known for his work with collected objects he found on walks. He produces site-specific installations, in which he creates a relationship between his own personal history and the cultural and political history and current events of the place where he is working.


Elena Agudio is a Berlin based art historian and curator. She is artistic director of the Association of Neuroesthetics. Since 2013 she is artistic co-director of SAVVY Contemporary, a non profit Berlin based art space, where she is curating and co-curating exhibition projects, discursive programms and series.


Jelili Atiku is a Nigerian multimedia artist whose performances are concerned with issues of human rights and justice. Through drawing, installation sculpture, photography, video and performance, he strives to help viewers understand the world and expanding their understanding and experiences, so that they can activate and renew their lives and environments.


Joerg Fingerhut works at the intersection of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. He coordinates the research and activities of the Einstein group with a personal focus in research on "Aesthetic Psychology" and "Embodied and Embellished Perception".


Ivana Franke is a visual artist who often works with light installations investigating the limits of our visual and spatial perception. She employs complex geometric structures and light to create phenomena that often appear ephemeral, ambiguous, puzzling or ‘mysterious’. Her works exist at the interface between physical and mental space, and pose profound challenge to our habitual ways of seeing and understanding of the reality.


Beatrice de Gelder is a cognitive neuroscientist and neuropsychologist. She is professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the Tilburg University (Netherlands). Her current research focuses on face and body recognition and the neuroscience of art. 


Stefanie Hessler, based in Sweden, is a curator and writer from Germany. She is the co-founder of the art space Andquestionmark in Stockholm. She is interested different modes of velocity, and how our perception of time is influenced by technologies, such as the Internet and chemical substances. 


Stephan Köhler is a media researcher, photographer curator. He closely works with Georges Adéagbo and runs an artist’s residency in Benin (West Africa) since 1999.


Jesse Prinz is a philosopher at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He works with the Berlin School of Mind and Brain as an Einstein Visiting Fellow participating in research meetings and teachings in the doctoral program of the School. His research interests include emotion, consciousness, cultural cognition, concepts, perception, moral psychology, and aesthetics. 


Jeremy Shaw is a Berlin-based multimedia artist form Vancouver. He is interested in altered state experience and explores the cultural and scientific practices that aspire to transcendental experience. A lot of his work plays with the area between science and mysticism. He creates and reflects extraordinary experiences and shows how art can translate what is challenging to articulate. He also incorporates his music into his work.


Ed Vessel is a research scientist at Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. He is interested in the neural basis of aesthetic experience, visual preferences, the neurobiology of information foraging and brain imaging methods.