Hospitality, 2024 General Description
Hospitality, coming from the adjective hospitable, describes an environment that is “pleasant and favourable for living.” Medieval Latin hospitare introduces entertainment into the mix, leading us to modern meanings of hospitality, “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” In her analysis of John Berger’s work , Olivia Laing explores the concept’s range, what exists between entertaining guests and taking care of strangers. Laing’s exploration highlights the temporal difference between the experience of “guest”—which implies the existence of an invitation, which implies there being time to prepare—and the experience of “stranger”—the experience of someone who does not know, someone who is not familiar, someone who isn’t accustomed, possibly because they hadn’t had the time to learn, to acclimatise to local custom, or familiarise themselves with local lore.
Another meaning of hospitality comes to us through Middle English, from hospitable to hospital, “an institution providing medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick or injured people.” The sick and the injured, perhaps more eloquently than strangers, speak to the value and importance of hospitality, the practice of making hospitable spaces for those who were not ready to be here, but are. A hospitable space may after all be where even the most distracted of us, be it by pain or fear, eventually find that we are able to relate, and that we have a reason to.
We suggest approaching the notion and the practice of hospitality from the perspective of one of the areas explored at the first LACE Symposium. Namely, the area of MEDIATED TOUCH. What does hospitality, itself an example of a mediating practice, teach us about the conditions that are necessary for one to join in the experience of kinship, the experience of care, the experience of touch? No matter the limit of any one of ours’ current capacities.
In an attempt to highlight the practical aspects of mediation and the process-based focus of this practice, we decided to move from the notion of mediated to the notion of mediating touch. Our aim here is to focus our study on the relational, and the emergent. To that end, we are looking to share with you the work of artists, academics, and activists whose practices exemplify what it’s like to treat value contextually, and see it as a spectrum rather than a standard. All these are details that we think could bring us one step closer to our goal, which is not dreaming as well as experiencing an affective difference in the world.
Follow us on social media @lacesymposium [instagram + facebook] for live updates! Coming soon, we’ll share further reflections on the topics of the next symposium. What is the point of integration and why do we want to work on the interstitial? You can also look for all the available information at www.lacesymposium.com, our official-unofficial website.
 Olivia Laing, 2020; Funny Weather, Art in an Emergency; published by W. W. Norton & Company.