The document as performance. The performance as a document. An interdisciplinary artistic research on theatricality and reality.

  • Ketelbuters, Martine (Collaborator)
  • Opsomer, Geert (Administrative Promotor)
  • Tindemans, Klaas (Collaborator)
  • De Roo, Ruben (Collaborator)
  • Van Langenhove, Katrien (Collaborator)
  • Van Dam, Dieter (Collaborator)

    Project Details


    A theoretical starting point for this artistic research project is provided by (the influence of) The Return of the Real, the ground-breaking essay by art historian and theorist Hal Foster on the meaning of 'avant-gardism' today (1996). Foster explains the way contemporary art - whether or not stigmatized as 'neo-avant-garde' deals with fundamental problems of representation and representativity. No matter how diverse its output, contemporary art, according to Foster, runs parallel with two types of 'counter-science' developed in the 20th century: psychoanalysis and ethnology. Art thematizes, since the beginning of the 1990's, the traumatic effects and affections of the unrepresentable 'real' (le réel in lacanian psychoanalysis). Or artists record, document and (re)present, as ethnographers in an urban environment, the (dis)continuities in social constructions, both in physical and mental respect. The pedagogical importance of Fosters analysis - in fact an actualisation of Walter Benjamins illuminating distinction between social criticism and tactile 'choc' within the artwork - speaks for itself. Actual developments in the field of theatre/performance continue to show the relevance of this theoretical approach: the last research project of the RITS, on subversion and subversivity shows some examples: the research of Abattoir Fermé, whether or not in 'digitalized' form, deals almost exclusively with derision and traumatism.
    The challenge for our research projects lies in its translation into relevant 'work units'. We divided our project into five clusters:
    (1) Retool earth tries to conceive the 'open dramaturgy' of globalisation, inspired by The Meaning of the 21st century, the book by James Martin. It will develop 'artistic-scientific' simulations/presentations of future life, focusing on the paradox of globalisation: the omnipresence of 'the earth' as a mediatised entity, and the near absence of artistic - let alone ideological - answers to that challenge.
    (2) Atelier Houtzee focuses on performance art - and certain aspects of theatricality, e.g. Tadeusz Kantor - as the 'art of memory'. Visual artists and theatre makers will start research from questions such as: how can we memorize, artistically, past trauma in 'performance as a monument'? And how can we save these performances from forgetfulness by historicizing them?
    (3) Atelier Document will focus on the relationship between document - as a 'discourse of the archives' -, documentary - as a journalistic genre - and theatricality, as it is reflected in contemporary performance practices. Especially the nature of the 'truth claim' and the 'reality check' of these practises is an important issue in this respect. Artists in residence such as Rimini Protocoll - working with 'experts of everyday life' in very theatrical contexts - and Rabih Mroué - who invests in anti- of post-dramatic devices to stage the Lebanese and European traumas - will develop their work in a broad pedagogical and interdisciplinary context, in house.
    (4) Catalogue résonnante tries to translate the theoretical questions, as e.g. Benjamin and Foster formulated them, into the concrete issues of art history and art historiography today. How can we take into account the notion of 'deferred action' (Freuds Nachträglichkeit), so crucial for modernism and the (historical) avant-garde, when making a 'back up' of our documents/performances? With Benjamins Passagenwerk or Aby Warburg as illuminating examples.
    (5) Atelier Congo resumes the above mentioned issues and redirects them to a very precise theme of repressed history: Congo, Belgium's ex-colony, as a part of our collective subconscious. Both this repression as the almost cliché-like ethnographical/anthropological connotations of this theme, make it perfectly suitable to serve as the meeting point of the afore mentioned issues, as researched in the most diverse contexts. The theme of Congo enables also to link the Document/Performance project with previous artistic research, like the (re)presentation of cruelty and violence - as a experience of the tragic, as a subversive statement.
    Effective start/end date1/10/0830/09/10

    Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

    • Civil and building engineering


    Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.