Performance — 17 Jan 2013

The Stedelijk Museum proudly presents Stage It! (Part 2), an all-night performance program with Pablo Bronstein, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and Sharon Hayes & Brooke O’Harra.
17 Jan 2013, 5.30 pm

Location: Teijin Auditorium, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Language: English
Entrance: Entrance fee Stedelijk Museum 
Reservations: this event is fully booked, reservation is no longer possible

The Stedelijk Museum proudly presents Stage It! (Part 2), an all-night performance program with Pablo Bronstein, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and Sharon Hayes & Brooke O’Harra. Inspired by the dramatic gestures and theatrical stages of the Stedelijk Museum’s architecture, Stage It! (Part 2) investigates the relationship between theatricality, performance, and architecture against the backdrop of performance histories. The Stage It! series is curated by Hendrik Folkerts (Curator, Public Program, Stedelijk Museum) in collaboration with Vivian Ziherl (Curator, If I Can't Dance I Don't Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, Amsterdam).  

As one walks through the Stedelijk Museum’s revolving doors and into its entrance hall, the most striking element of the new architecture emerges: the former rear façade of the old building is integrated into the central atrium as if it were part of a grand theater production’s set design. Embracing each other and challenging what is historical and contemporary, old and new, background and foreground, the re-opened Stedelijk Museum’s dual buildings create new stages for performance in the 21st century art museum. The central atrium is a performance space waiting to be explored, echoing the monumental staircase’s long history of performance in the historical building of the Stedelijk Museum. This dramatic stair case – that previously functioned as the entry focal point of the museum – staged performances related to the visual arts, dance, theater, and opera. In the new museum, several new stages have emerged adjacent or connecting to the galleries, such as the Auditorium, the basement space, and the grand escalator, to name a few. 

In this building, with its dramatic gestures and undeniable moments of theatricality, the curators of Stage It! (Part 2) have invited four artists to explore the notion of “staging” further within the context of the art museum. This evening seeks not only to draw out parallels and overlaps between the spaces of performance in the visual and performing arts – the somewhat outdated concepts of the white cube and the black box – but also to question the increasing role of performance art in museums today and how architecture frames and determines it. 

Stage It! (Part 2) will follow a parcours along the vertical axis of the new Stedelijk building: the balcony in the central atrium, the space in the basement resembling a traditional amphitheater, and the Auditorium.  

The opening piece, “Act II,” will hover in the midst of the Stedelijk Museum’s central atrium, taking a glass stairwell for its stage and transforming the monumental space into an echo chamber for the words of one of theater’s best-known female characters, Hedda Gabler. In this collaboration, artist Sharon Hayes and theater director Brooke O’Harra extract the character of Hedda Gabler from Act Two of Henrik Ibsen's eponymous play. With a deep interest in form and the way in which it structures meaning, Hayes and O’Harra’s new work upends the conventional attachments of theater, with its privileging of character and performance, and its often-evidenced denial and distrust of character. In “Act II,” Hayes performs the role of Hedda Gabler in absence of the other characters, the dialogue and presence of the other characters existing only through the actions and reactions of Hedda. Through this experiment in form, Hayes and O’Harra explore the way in which Hedda, as a figure, both defies and transcends gender. In their individual work, Hayes and O’Harra have both been deeply informed by multiple histories of feminist and queer cultural production. “Act II” is an extension of their performance-based explorations into gender and queerness. 

Descending a wide stairwell toward the new exhibition space, audiences will pause to view the lower landing activated as natural amphitheater with a new performance piece by English/Argentinean artist Pablo Bronstein. In this continuation of Bronstein’s highly theatrical studies in performance, dancers will be meticulously staged in a vignette that condenses various art historical references into a danced gay tableau.

Travelling two levels up via an enclosed escalator, the audience will finally arrive at the Stedelijk’s Teijin Auditorium, a seamless white space molded of the same carbon fiber material used in the structural components of aircraft. Here, the evening will close with “M.2062,” a prospective and fragmented opera by Dominique Gonzales-Foerster that started in London during the Memory Marathon (2012) at the Serpentine Gallery. “M.2062” will stand as a moment within a body of work by Gonzalez-Foerster centrally concerned with literature and musical adventures in the spirit of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and King Ludwig II’s fascination with Wagner. 

Stage It! (Part 2) is the second installment in the Stage It! series curated by Hendrik Folkerts and Vivian Ziherl. The first edition – which took place as the inaugural performance event after the re-opening of the museum – featured performances by VALIE EXPORT, Andrea Geyer, and MPA. This evening was dedicated to the relation between the body, space, and architecture against the backdrop of feminist performance histories. 

More information about the artists:

Pablo Bronstein (born 1977, Buenos Aires) lives and works in London. He completed his BA in Fine Art at the Slade (2001) and an MA Visual Arts at Goldsmiths College (2004). Solo exhibitions include Garden A La Mode at Tate Britain (2010), Pablo Bronstein at the Met at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009), and Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich (2007). Significant group shows include Move at the Hayward Gallery (2010), Manifesta 8, Mucia (2010), PERFORMA 07, New York (2007), and Tate Triennial (2006).

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster was born in 1965 in Strasbourg, France. Among her recent solo exhibitions are projects for the Dia Art Foundation, New York (2009); the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London (2008); MUSAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon (2008); and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC, Paris (2007). She also participated in Skulptur Projekte Münster (2007) and Documenta XI, Kassel (2002). She is the recipient of the 2002 Marcel Duchamp Award,Paris, the 1996-97 Mies van der Rohe Award, Krefeld, and the Villa Kujoyama, Kyoto artist residency in 1996-97. In the past five years, she staged T.451 at the Tensta Konsthall and the Asplund’s library in Stockholm (2012); the 121st night in Istanbul with Tristan Bera, produced by Protocinema; T.1912 with the Wordless Music Orchestra at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011); and K.62/K.85 during Performa 09 NY (2009) with Ari Benjamin Meyers. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster lives in Paris and Rio de Janeiro.

Over the past ten years, Sharon Hayes has been engaged in an art practice that uses multiple mediums—video, performance, and installation—in ongoing investigation into various intersections between history, politics, and speech. Her work is concerned with developing new representational strategies that examine and interrogate the present political moment, not as a moment without historical foundation but as one that is always allegorical, a moment that reaches simultaneously backwards and forwards. Hayes’ has held solo exhibitions at the Museuo Reina Sofia (Madrid) and the Whitney Museum (New York). In addition, her work has been shown at the New Museum for Contemporary Art, the Guggenheim Museum, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Art In General, Artists Space, Parlour Projects, Andrew Kreps Gallery, Dance Theater Workshop, and Performance Space 122, among many others.

Brooke O’Harra is a co-founder of The Theatre of a Two-headed Calf and works as a freelance director with an interest in new and experimental texts. She directs, writes, and performs for ROOM FOR CREAM, a live lesbian soap opera created by the Dyke Division of Two-headed Calf, which ran for three seasons in New York. She is the recipient of the NEA/TCG Developing Directors grant, three NYSCA grants, a Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art award, an Art Matters grant, an LMCC space grant, and four Chashama Live Performance space grants. O’Harra has studied and made theater in Japan, the Czech Republic, Poland, Indonesia, and Ghana. She is full-time theater faculty member at Mt. Holyoke College.