Masterclass: Performing Theory with Constanze Ruhm

7 June, 2019
– 7 June, 2019
Birkbeck Cinema
43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

Performing Theory is a series of masterclasses that aim to present a wide variety of approaches to the artistic production of ideas in audio-visual form. We are inviting performance artists and moving image makers whose work (written, performed, filmed) manifests theoretical innovation. The latter part of the 20th century produced body of Anglo-American writing and work that are recognised today as canonical as with Hollis Frampton, Maya Deren, Peter Gidal for example. With this series we want to produce a sample of this kind of interplay between ideas and creating that are underway today. In so doing, we hope to open the field of play between theory and works to create new conversations.
Please join us for a Master Class with Constanze Ruhm who will be discussing her work.
Her installations, films and publications investigate the relation of various time based formats between cinema and new media, their history and theory often with an emphasis on the subjects of casting, rehearsal and scripts, as well as a focus on issues of representation, performativity and the archive from a feminist perspective.
Performing Theory is conceived and convened by Prof. Rachel Moore (Goldsmiths) for CHASE in collaboration with BIMI and LUX.

Further Information

Re: Rehearsals (No Such Thing as Repetition)

These are my neighbors, these odd people. In constantly changing costumes. What are they doing there, I often ask myself. For some reason, they have decided to halt time in order to do certain things again. It’s almost as if they wanted to limit themselves to give themselves less time. And since only finite things are given a body, they have perhaps resorted to this habit of repeating everything, because limitation through death does not suffice.

Porträt aus Desinteresse, René Pollesch (2008)

Despite the popularity of the format of rehearsal in film, theater, music, and fine art, it has been scarcely considered as a theoretical topic in contemporary art discourses. In the framework of this event I will discuss an ongoing research- and practice-based project on this subject with a focus on my own filmic productions. This long-term project was launched together with art historian Sabeth Buchmann and later curator Ilse Lafer, taking the form of exhibitions, lecture series, screening programs and a book publication[1]. It investigates the role as well as the function of the notion of “rehearsal” understood as a methodology, a modus operandi, a medium, a site of representation and reflection for artistic production processes, and as an instrument of critique of institutional power relations.

“Doing the same thing repeatedly in order to bring it to a point of perfection and develop routines would seem, at first glance, to conform to the logic of efficiency and the expectation of self-optimization that characterize today’s working conditions. In contrast, strategies of rehearsal, which have long been enacted in artistic work, reveal that routine and repetition can possess a subversive potential. (…) Precisely the (…) relationship between decision and rule, produc­tive repetition and stagnating routine, is the core subject matter of the rehearsal. As an artistic format, the rehearsal has become a popular means of the cross-media and cross-institutional linking of visual and performative forms of presentation. The format of the theater or music rehearsal is employed, for example, in (installation) films and performance videos, where it is understood as an integration of potentially dysfunctional methods that tend to challenge the rules of their own genre and question or replace what is all too skillful and virtuoso by the visible testing of new rules. In doing so, artistic production often performs itself as a structurally open-ended learning process in front of the running camera. (…)  While on the one hand the format of rehearsal aims at linking distinct media and genres (dance, film, photography), on the other it is the mixing of private and public spheres of production that focuses on moments which are usually not included in the final product: moments of waiting and observing, of making mistakes and failing, of hesitating and repeating. Such experi­ences typical of artistic producers are staged in relation to social, emotional, and media-related behavior and role patterns. They frequently appear in the form of a both planned — because script-guided — and situation- and process-dependent making of identities, affects, movements, gazes, and actions.” [2]

[1] PUTTING REHEARSALS TO THE TEST. Practices of Rehearsal in Fine Arts, Film, Theater, Theory and Politics. Eds. Sabeth Buchmann, Ilse Lafer, Constanze Ruhm. Sternberg Press 2016

[2] In: “Subject Put to the Test”, Sabeth Buchmann, Constanze Ruhm First published in: Texte zur Kunst, No. 90, 2013.

Excerpts of the following films will be screened:

X Characters / RE(hers)AL 2004

X Love Scenes / Pearls Without a String (2007)

My_Never_Ending_Burial_Plot (2010)

Cold Rehearsal (together with Christine Lang), 2013

Suggested reading:

PUTTING REHEARSALS TO THE TEST: Practices of Rehearsal in Fine Arts, Film, Theater, Theory and Politics, Eds. Sabeth Buchmann, Ilse Lafer, Constanze Ruhm. Sternberg Press 2016

Born in Vienna and lives between Vienna, Berlin and Paris. Artist, film maker, author, curator. She graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts (Vienna/Autria) and Städelschule / Institute of New Media (Frankfurt/Germany). Since 1996, she has been teaching internationally as professor for Film and Video (Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach; Merz Akademie Stuttgart; Art Institute Boston/Lesley University); since 2006 she is tenured professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. She has been exhibiting internationally as well as curating numerous exhibitions, most recently PUTTING REHEARSAL TO THE TEST in collaboration with Sabeth Buchmann and Ilse Lafer (VOX Centre de l’image contemporain / Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery / SBC Gallery Montréal 2016 ). She curated numerous film programs and screens her works in international film festivals on a regular basis. She organised as well as participated in symposia, gave workshops, presentations and lectured in Europe, the USA and the Middle East.


Skip to content