Eine Frage (nach) der Geste

Eine Frage (nach) der Geste / 2006

In cooperation with: University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy”, Institutes of Theatre Research and Literary Studies at Leipzig University, Fotohof Salzburg, Edison Studio, Goethe Institute Rome and Vienna Poetry Academy.

>>> Participating Artists

>>> Exhibition

>>> Performances

>>> Video Programme

>>> Film

>>> Research

>>> Other Stations

>>> Thanks


Departing from in recent approaches in cultural studies whose research centres around cultural performativity, we wanted to work together with other institutions in a multi‑sectoral way on the reception and presentation of practices of body language and the action‑oriented, and in way that would permeate as many areas of contemporary social discourse as possible. Our goal was to link our teaching and artistic research with an outwardly directed artistic event to be located in one of Leipzig’s public spaces. Going beyond the visual arts, we wanted to explore the realms of music, literature, film, and dance, in order to investigate transitions, commonalities, and possibilities for complementation. An essential gesture here consisted in opening up our academy door, directing our attention outward towards the immediate neighbourhood, and establishing contacts with institutions whose scopes of activities implied a preoccupation with gesture.


Because gestures are neither formulated nor enacted in a void, but instead emerge only within a specific social and cultural fabric, we sought out a spatial framework for our exhibition project which is present within the cityscape as an architectural gesture. We wanted a location which implied gesture, one specialising in the artistic preoccupation with gesture, one in which the representation of human behaviour is achieved by means of gesture. We wanted a location that would burst the boundaries of the fine arts and would include a stage, would involve the utopian search for a “total work of art”, one where a variety of art forms could converge experimentally.

Our choice was Leipzig’s Opera House, which we were able to secure thanks to the open-mindedness of its General Manager and Director of Public Relations.

The square flanked by the Opera House constitutes the present day gate to the city’s inner consumerist core. Through its architectonic corpus, this building – a formerly Neoclassical structure that was substantially destroyed in World War II, demolished in the post‑war period, and re‑erected on the same site by the GDR in the 1950s – mirrors the traces of its history. Reflected in the new building – itself having in the meantime become historic – are the gestures of power politics exploited by the previous government, which eclectically appropriated aspects of classical art, integrating them into its own cultural policies.

Photos by Alba D’Urbano and Tina Bara

Participating Artists

A Room Of One’s Own   About-Chamat, Adidal   Liisa-Ahtila, Eija   Allamoda, Bettina   Altmann, Susanne   Bako, Martina   Baldessari, John   Banz, Stefan   Bara, Tina   Bayerle, Thomas   Bertram, Eva   Beumer, Isabeella   Bisky, Norbert
von Bismarck, Beatrice   Blach, Katrina   Black, Steven   Bock, John   Breitz, Candice   Brotherus, Elina   Busies, Kathleen
Prof. Dr. Büscher, Barbara   Carati, Daniela   Chabrowski, Yvon   Dr. Darian, Veronika   Dijkstra, Rineke   Doswald, Christoph   D’Urbano, Alba Edison Studio   Escherlor, Judith Miriam Farocki, Harun   Figura, Martin   Firman, Daniel   Frey, Peter Giradet, Christoph & Müller, Matthias   Gmelin, Felix   G.R.A.M.   Prof. Dr. Heeg, Günther   Heinlein, Pia Helm, Sebastian   Hennig, Luise Henry, Julie   Hintze, Christian Ide   Dr. Holschbach, Susanne   Holst-Pedersen, Synne   Huth, Susanne   Hutschek, Bettina   Ingold, Res   Jüttner, Juliane   Kaiser, Susanne Kipcak, Orhan   Kippenberger, Martin   Kozyra, Katarzyna   Lee, Seulgi   Lienbacher, Ulrike   LIGNA   Logen, Dorothee   Lorbeer, Johann   Prof. Dr. Loschek, Ingrid   Loy, Rosa
Lüscher, Ingeborg   Manchot, Melanie   Markowitsch, Rémy   Mauracher, Michael   Dr. Märtens, Gesine   Möller, Regina
Muhr, Paula   Müller, Julia   Müller Waldeck, Regine   Muntadas, Antoni   Neuhäuser, Nadine Nezaket, Ekici   Noack, Marcel   Oyama, Yuka   Pabst, Andrea   Panhans, Stefan   Peanutz Architekten   Ponger, Lisl   Porten, Marion   Reimer, Arne
Reuter, Stefan/Bechtle, Fabian   Richter, Evelyn   Rijkeboer Velsen, Chrystl   Rosenquist, James   Rost, Andreas   Röder, Julian   Sander, Katya   Schad, Isabelle/Good Work Production mit Dalija Acin   Schäfer, Michael   Scherstjanoi, Valeri
Schmiedichen, Cindy Schubert, Sandra   Schulze-Seeger, Jürgen   Seehusen, Jana Sing, Juli Sommer, Rolf
Standke, Yvonne   Van der Stappen, Lieve   Steiger, Charly Steinbrecher, Erik   Stoll, Marianne   Stratford, Helen   Tan, Fiona   Tuymans, Luc   Varady, Dagmar Wawro, Silke   Weinert, Carolin Wesser, Diana Winterhagen, Tobias Wilke, Hannah   Wurm, Erwin   Zmijewski, Artur


The spacious rooms of the Opera House represented a challenge that was not easily overcome: art was to be integrated in a way that avoided destroying the atmosphere of the architecture while at the same time appropriating and occupying the space. We worked by integrating the works of art into the architectonic surroundings while simultaneously incorporating the concurrently scheduled performances.

Diana Wesser shifted the “stage” to one of the buffet rooms and choreographed a performance dedicated to the excessive and mythic gestures exchanged between worshipful public and stage artist.

Found on the staircases leading to the upper concert foyer were a series of video works which reflected on social and political themes related to migration and gender and in the second story, this field was broadened out: here, gestures related to sports and religion, existential to military gestures and those of human violence. Gender coded communication between people was interrogated for its feminine and masculine connotations; advertising gestures were converted into youthful poses and entered boundary areas where artistic gestures and those of the artist could assert themselves, all the way to demonstrative gestures of power as the contentual closing off of discourse, all of these intended to allude as a whole to the diffusive character of gesture, its connection to and effectiveness in all social fields. With her performative lecture and guided tour through the interior rooms of the Opera House, set amongst of the works of art, Helen Stratford succeeded in conveying research results, intuitive responses, and presentational practice in a way that was both informative and entertaining.

Since the exhibition project as a whole was conceived as a performative spatial event, we also attempted to integrate performances within the exhibition in the form of several parallel events staged by our partners from the research sector. Christina von Braun, for example, delivered a lecture in the concert foyer on the theme of “Das Weib als Klang. Oper, Text und Geschlecht” (Woman As Sound: Opera, Text and Gender), which was part of Barbara Büscher’s event “Gesten des Melodramatischen“ (Gestures of the Melodramatic). In one of the refreshment rooms, a part of the symposium “Verhaltene Beredsamkeit. Politik, Pathos und Politik der Geste“ (Restrained Eloquence: Politics, Pathos and the Politics of Gesture) was organized under the direction of Veronika Darian.

Photos by Alba D’Urbano, Tina Bara, Arne Reimer and Marcel Noack


For events which could not be presented within the exhibition itself, we used the basement theatre of the Opera House: held here were the main portion of the Theatre Institute’s symposium as well as a stage and video program – events requiring the presentational mode of the illusionist black box.

Tina Bara / Alba D’Urbano: Überleitende Worte
Concert foyer, Opera House, Leipzig
Photos: Martin Jehnichen, Nico Reichelt

A:N:Y: Tableau Kunstkleider
Leipzig Opera House, Parquet foyer
Photos: Edwin Roelofs, Tina Bara

Isabeella Beumer
Photo: Friedrich Block

Edison: Caligari
Photos: Marco Rovetto

Ligna Radioballett: Normierte Räume – Abweichende Gesten
Augustusplatz, Leipzig
Photos: Nico Reichelt

Johan Lorbeer: Rothko Fax
Leipzig Opera House
Photo: Nicolas Reichelt

Valeri Scherstjanoi
Photo: Gerald Zörner

Dalija Acin in „There is no exception to the rule because I am never what I have“
Photo: Annika Lewis

Helen Stratford: Zwischen Haus und Heim
Opera House, Leipzig

Diana Wesser: Situs Opera
Leipzig Opera House, Buffet, 2nd story
Photos: Karsten Wendt / Best Picture Point

Video Programme

Presented in the video program were works from the art context having narrative characters, and with documentary and conceptual backgrounds: works which raised questions of gesture in the context of a variety of aims, and which required concentration for extended periods of time.

Fiona Tan: Kingdom of Shadows, 2000/2002

Katya Sander: Exterior City, 2005

Lisl Ponger: Phantom Fremdes Wien / Phantom Stranger Vienna, 2004

Harun Farocki: Die Bewerbung / The Application, 1997

Tina Bara / Alba D’Urbano: Fedaluna, 2006


A confrontation with the film medium was extended in the framework of the event “Gesten des Melodramatischen“ (Gestures of the Melodramatic), organized by the University of Music and Theatre. Barbara Büscher curated a film program, which began with films by Douglas Sirk in order to stimulate renewed discussion of films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Christoph Schlingensief and Alexander Kluge. Unfortunately, it was impossible for technical reasons to show the films in the Opera House itself, but we were thankful for an opportunity to screen them at the Schaubühne Lindenfels.