Performance — 8 Aug 2021

On the occasion of the traveling exhibition Et tout ceci est vrai! In Tinguely’s footsteps between Paris, Amsterdam, and Basel by Museum Tinguely, the Stedelijk Museum presents the performance The Lady of the Lake by Keren Cytter.

Museum entrance
Teijin Auditorium
8 Aug, 4 pm until 4.45 pm
Main language
We advise you to be present at least 10 minutes before the starting time of the program. No visitors will be allowed to enter once the performance has started. Visitors are expected to attend the entire performance. 

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Tinguely Museum in Basel, a barge carrying a number of objects from this Swiss museum will travel from Paris to Amsterdam, and back to Basel. From 17 July to 26 September, the barge will dock at places that have played an important role in the artistic career of Swiss artist Jean Tinguely (1925-1991). Two films about works by Tinguely in the Stedelijk Museum’s collection will be shown in the entrance hall. At the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, a sculpture by Tinguely and documentation about his practice will be exhibited on the barge. Three contemporary artists have developed performances specifically for this project, in which they relate to Tinguely’s influential corpus of works. One of these performances was created by Israeli artist Keren Cytter.


The Lady of the Lake is a theater piece consisting of a dialogue between actress Fernanda Farah and actor Damian Rebgetz. The performance incorporates various types of staged arts, such as storytelling, song, dance, and stand-up comedy. The two actors narrate what is most memorable about their lives, such as the story by the actress about having five husbands. The compelling and at times absurdly comical dialogue zigzags from one association to the next. The artist has interlaced the text with her own pithy metaphors and precise analyses of contemporary society. With dry humor and, at the same time, a sense of pain, Cytter’s piece offers us a glimpse of the singularized and performative social context of today. 

Keren Cytter, The Lady of the Lake, 2021 © The artist; Foto: Gianmarco Bresadola
Keren Cytter, The Lady of the Lake, 2021 © The artist; Foto: Gianmarco Bresadola

The Lady of the Lake was developed as a commissioned piece for the traveling exhibition by the Museum Tinguely. Elements such as movement, play and experimentation were of great importance to Jean Tinguely’s artistic corpus. He considered experimental art to be something that ought to be experienced mostly outside the confinement of a museum. Within this conceptual frame, Cytters performance serves as a precise example of how artistic categories may be experienced in innovative ways—especially when humor comes into play. In 2010 Cytter created the Art Projects Era (APE) foundation with Dutch curator Maaike Gouwenberg, in order to develop projects that would not necessarily find a place within traditional and institutional presentation formats and frameworks.


Keren Cytter studied visual arts at the Avni Institute of Art and Design in Tel Aviv. She enjoyed some success in Israel before moving to Amsterdam, where she received a grant to study at De Ateliers. In addition to performance, dance and theater, Cytter often works with film and video art and writes novels. She is mostly known for her textually based video work and her recognizable, mildly anarchistic style. Cytter’s narratives show her characters’ postmodern self-awareness and their typical 21st-century anxieties. The imaginary divides between scripts, storylines, fact and fiction are broken to converge in a fully original visual language. Cytter’s video art, theater and dance pieces, and performances go against the conventional norms of cinema. Her four-channel video installation Avalanche was shown at the Stedelijk Museum in 2011 as part of Temporary Stedelijk 2. Cytter’s work has featured in exhibitions in the United States and various European and Asian countries. 

Keren Cytter, The Lady of the Lake, 2021 © The artist; Foto: Gianmarco Bresadola
Keren Cytter, The Lady of the Lake, 2021 © The artist; Foto: Gianmarco Bresadola

I tried to make a performance that will include as many theatrical elements as possible and be about nothing.

— Keren Cytter


Commissioned by Museum Tinguely, Basel as part of Museum Tinguely AHOY!
Text and direction: Keren Cytter
Song texts: Keren Cytter
Song composition: Andreas Schlaegel
Actors: Fernanda Farah and Damian Rebgetz
Curator, Museum Tinguely: Dr Sandra Beate Reimann

Production Manager: Attila Gaspar


Jean Tinguely played a crucial role in the development of kinetic art in the 1950s. To Tinguely, his work was an act of resistance against a conventional, static art (world): he wanted to put play and experimentation on center stage. He was not satisfied with the notion of visitors watching static paintings from a distance in a sterile white space. Through his do-it-yourself drawing machines, Tinguely critiqued the role of the artist and the elitist position of the arts in society. He rejected the idea of “the unique hand of the artist” by having visitors assemble works themselves. 

Amsterdam and Tinguely share a dynamic history. The exhibitions Bewogen Beweging (Moving Movement) (1961) and Dylaby (1962) at the Stedelijk Museum, both co-curated by Tinguely, testify to their close contact. He did not only bring his kinetic Méta-machines to the Netherlands, but also his international avant-garde network, leaving a lasting impression with the public, which visited these experimental exhibitions in great numbers. Close ties with Willem Sandberg (then director of the Stedelijk Museum) and curator Ad Petersen led to several acquisitions for the collection, including his famous drawing machine Méta-Matic No. 10 from 1959, Gismo from 1960 and the enormous Méta II from 1971. 

In 2016-2017 the Stedelijk Museum organized an extensive Jean Tinguely retrospective entitled Machine Spectacle. In conjunction with the large Tinguely exhibitions in Düsseldorf and Amsterdam, the thirteen three-dimensional Tinguely works in the Stedelijk Museum’s collection were examined and restored in an extensive interdisciplinary project over the course of 2015 and 2016. The videos that were created in this process will be shown at the Stedelijk Museum, where several works by Tinguely are also on show.