The Troubled Status of Evidence in Contemporary Documentary Performance

The past decade has witnessed the emergence of a panoply of quasi-documentary approaches and dramaturgies in visual and performing art works responding to contemporary war and conflict. In this context, the notion of evidence, often considered integral to discourses on the documentary, has attracted particular interest. The first part of the lecture will investigate how artists invite spectators to attend, not so much to the evidentiary status of documentary material, as to the differing statuses and meanings assigned to documents depending on the particular knowledge systems and spaces of appearance within which they are perceived. The second part of the lecture suggests that the concept of the spectre, as conceived by amongst others Derrida, might help us think about how to address issues of those who went missing during war and conflict, when we do not have any material evidence, but only rumours and officially unacknowledged presumptions to base our enquiries on. Drawing on works by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Rabih Mroué, and Hito Steyerl, the lecture will argue that whilst helping us to move beyond the discourses within documentary theory, which tend to conform to either a postmodernist relativist position or a realist epistemology, these works also allows for a temporary redistribution of the given spaces of appearance.

Solveig Gade, PhD, is Professor in Performing Arts at the Danish National School of Performing Arts in Copenhagen. She has published on political engagement and experimental dramaturgies in contemporary theatre and performance in journals such as TDR/The Drama Review, Performance Research, Nordic Theatre Studies, Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, The Journal of War and Culture Studies, Diffractions, and Peripeti. In her current research project, she focuses on war and conflict in the post 9-11 era as depicted in contemporary documentary performance, dance, and visual art. Employing an inter-disciplinary approach, the project investigates the critical potential of the quasi- documentary strategies developed by artists as diverse as Rabih Mroué, Arkadi Zaides, Rimini Protokoll, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Laura Poitras, Milo Rau, and Hito Steyerl.
She also works as a dramaturge, and between 2008 and 14 she served as a dramaturge at the Danish Royal Theatre, where she collaborated with directors including Michael Thalheimer, Christian Lollike, and Elisa Kragerup.

Sprache: Englisch

Vortrag: 9. Mai, 18-20 Uhr, Raum GABF 04/611
Workshop mit S. Gade: 10. Mai, 10-12 Uhr, Raum GABF 05/608

Anmeldung Workshop:  theaterforschung@rub.de