Dorothea Rust – Re-enactment; comparison of an audio recording with two picture series

by Irene Müller

case study of the performance «Re-enactment», published on www.archiv performative, May 2012, p. 33—38

about the project

«archiv performativ»
Ein Modellkonzept für die Dokumentation und Aktualisierung von Performancekunst
(a model concept for the documentation and the actualisation, up-dating of performance art)
Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts (ICS) (bis 2019)
project lead: Pascale Grau | team Irene Müller and Margarit von Büren

The project «archiv performativ» closes a gap in the research field between performance and documentation. It makes a fundamental contribution to the current discussion on time-based art and its archivability, whereby the current theoretical discourse on methods of documentation from related fields is included in close relation to practice.

the case study by Irene Müller of Dorothea Rust's performance «Re-enactment»

«3.2.3 Dorothea Rust, Re-enactment; comparison of an audio recording with two picture series»

Comparison of artefacts of a performance by Dorothea Rust on 2 nd September 2011 during the exhibition and mediation project archiv performativ: a model in the Klingental exhibition space, Basel

A) Synopsis of the performance Re-enactment

The point of departure for Dorothea Rust’s performance was a statement she made about her research interest in the model archive. Here, she proposed inquiring into the extent to which the relics of a performance can “together with a short description, text fragments, sketches [...] revitalise a memory and trigger new [ideas].” 63
Later on in the statement she defines her concept of relics, which includes all “objects / materials, mostly everyday objects, as they are or modified” which she uses for her performances. Rust sees theseobjects as “extensions of the body” and her body as an “extension of material”. The objects can have an autonomous character and be bearers of memories at the same time. In concrete terms, the artist based Re-enactment on an eyewitness report of 2008 on one of her own performances in the archive of the Kaskadenkondensator. 64 Referring to this and her own memories and some of the utensils she used at the time, Rust developed a performance for Re-enactment which formed a complex fabric of spaces, times and actions, presence, repetitions and imagined ideas. The descriptive-interpretative text of the eyewitness report was used on the one hand as a script, as the basis for dramaturgical action. On the other hand, it was used as functional material, as the performer involved it or ‘played on’ it along with other objects and utensils (including green wellington boots, a potato fork, music from a laptop and a sack of apples). By so doing, Rust drew the spatial coordinates of the venue and its various internal and external spaces into the performance and set the audience physically in motion, calling on them to actively take part. The central elements of the approximately 40 minute-long performance were the text read out by the performer, her extempore speaking and her different actions and movements which constantly counteracted the effect of what she said. ...

full text on all the case studies

archiv performativ: On the transmission of performance art