Philipp Farra and Class for Performative Arts with Tobi FabekVenue:HGB gallery
Re:Relevance shows the re-staging of a symposium that took place in the winter of 2015/2016 in the Festsaal of Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig. Under the title “Relevance of Art - Art of Relevance”, artists, scholars, and curators discussed the necessity of and criteria for legitimizing art in the face of political and ecological crises of the 21st century: Does art have to meet ethical criteria to claim relevance?
Is relevance primarily established through thematic topicality? Is relevance a market factor? The debates in this series of talks were recorded and transcribed from audio files. The transcripts were then condensed into a theater text which was performed in front of an audience, again in the Festsaal of the HGB, in March 2022. The work on the production was accompanied by two camera teams, whose rehearsal and performance documentation were finally edited into an independent audio-visual dramaturgy.
The re-staging of the symposium is an examination of the relevance producing capacity of art and educational institutions, especially the institution of the art academy. Re:Relevance works with practices and media of repetition and recontextualization and focuses on one of the smallest units in which institutional language and habitus are represented, rehearsed, and (can be) subverted: the panel. The form of the symposium is traced back to one of its primal scenes: The prestigious hall of the HGB becomes the setting for a casual yet not informal dinner among friends. In a more or less cultivated conversation, boundaries are drawn and undermined - between private thoughts and public debates, personal preferences and political convictions, seriousness and play. Who sets the table? Who sits next to whom? Which drink goes with the menu? The production uses the theatrical technique of the staged reading and/or rehearsal reading: a text is presented to the public (perhaps for the first time) and tested for its suitability for the stage by performers who always identify and present themselves as such.
In the process of re-staging an institutional scene, Re:Relevance deals with how political and aesthetic debates condense over the years (like in the course of a friendly dispute) – or seem to disappear, only to suddenly resurface in the middle of the room as a stale memory, a mysterious dream, or a repressed phenomenon, unresolved and demanding attention. Thereby, it is put up for discussion, under which conditions the work on discourses about cultural production and artistic relevance takes place - which, similar to that on history, only happens to a limited extent “of one’s own free will [and] not under self-chosen, but under immediately found, given and handed down circumstances”. (Thekla Sophie Neuß, 2022)