ARE YOU ALIVE OR NOT ? Looking at ART through the lens of THEATRE. March 4: Act 1, scene 6. Lecture performance by Clare Butcher, lecture by Klaas Tindemans and a talk by Anja Kirschner. Studium Generale Rietveld Academie & Rietveld Uncut 2015

| tag: Amsterdam

In January, February and March 2015, through talks, readings, discussions, performances, workshops, film screenings and an exhibition of student work, Studium Generale Rietveld Academie* & Rietveld Uncut** are collaborating on an extensive, artistic research trajectory.
Entrance free.

Enter: Bertolt Brecht; poet, librettist, playwright, theorist, exile, womanizer (Clare Butcher, Klaas Tindemans, Anja Kirschner)

1 3 . 30 – 1 5 . 3 0
Lecture performance by teacher, writer, curator Clare Butcher, lecture by theorist Klaas Tindemans, talk by filmmaker Anja Kirschner.
1 5 . 4 5 – 1 7 . 3 0
Beamclub screening of
The Empty Plan by Anja Kirschner and David Panos (2010) (78 min)


Cooking Soup on a Burning House

'Our existing opera is a culinary opera. It was a means of pleasure before it turned into merchandise. It furthers pleasure even where it requires, or promotes, a certain degree of education, for the education in question is an education of taste.'

These lines mark the start of the notes by Bertolt Brecht and his collaborators for Mahagonny, a songspiel turned 'culinary opera' in the late 1920s. Under a cloud of rising nationalism and budget cuts (sound familiar?), Brecht sought ever new means of deconstructing the falseness of theatrical production - attempting to transform it into a pedagogical and social movement. The lasting effects of these epic attempts can be seen in all sorts of practices today. Over 20 minutes, we'll get culinary, explicit, even literal at times, becoming ever aware that we are in an auditorium, engaging in a presentation about someone, who knew something, about the taste of desire.

Clare Butcher (1985, Harare, Zimbabwe) is a teacher, curator and writer who cooks. She currently reads a lot with students at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and the Piet Zwart Institute, while also being a member of the School of Missing Studies at the Sandberg Institute. Clare completed the de Appel Curatorial Programme in 2009

Theatre for a New Age

In The Messingkauf Dialogues, written in exile during the 1930s, Bertolt Brecht deals with the art of acting in a society, threatened by crises, revolutions and totalitarianisms. A group of theatremakers spends four nights together, talking about things like ‘how to portray a little Nazi’, but they also do exercises, all aimed at the removal of illusion and empathy – attitudes of bourgeois theatre. Brecht, playwright and (Marxist) theoretician, wants a theatre for a new age, for new people and he puts into practice, writing, directing, theorizing. With The Messingkauf Dialogues, theory is not a dry treatise or a screaming manifesto, and playing is not just fun or a noncommittal artistic utterance. Theory and practice meet each other in conversation. Reading The Messingkauf Dialogues is a perfect occasion to introduce basic notions of Bertolt Brecht’s vocabulary: Verfremding (‘alienation’), Historisierung (‘historicization’), Gestus – untranslatable. As an epilogue, Tindemans will show (video) examples of contemporary practices which are unthinkable without Brecht’s legacy: the theatre of Christoph Marthaler and the performances of Christoph Schlingensief.

Klaas Tindemans (1959) is Doctor in the Study of Law. He works as a tutor and researcher at the Free University Brussels and the Erasmus University College Brussels, departement Rits (School of Art), where he is also the research coordinator. Tindemans has worked as a dramaturge for director Ivo van Hove, for youth theatre Bronks, for actorscollective "de Roovers" and for director Lies Pauwels. He wrote some theatre pieces, that have been staged by Bronks: Bulger (2006) and Sleutelveld (2009) and he publishes regularly about theatricality and politics, on art policy and on numerous topics in relation to performance studies.

The Empty Plan

Anja Kirschner will present an introduction to The Empty Plan. Shifting between documentary, historical reconstruction and melodrama, the film interrogates the relationship between theory and practice in the theatre of Bertolt Brecht. Set during Brecht's period of exile in Los Angeles, interrupted by flashbacks to a time before the war, the story is structured around tensions between Europe and America, and between his wife Helene Weigel and his collaborator and lover Ruth Berlau. These tensions, though real enough in their own right, are shown also as related to a process of creative introspection and the film draws on two of Brecht's works: The Messingkauf Dialogues, which considers the possibilities of ‘committed art’ and The Mother, a play concerned with the process of emancipation and radicalization of a working class mother. The Empty Plan reflects on conflicting personal, artistic and political ambitions, raising questions about the nature of art and the unrealised dream of its substitution by revolutionary practice.

Anja Kirschner's films collide historical research, literary sources and popular genre references and frequently deal with moments where material ruptures and political transformations reveal social contradictions but also give birth to new cultural and class formations. In 2011 Anja Kirschner and her former collaborator, the artist David Panos, were winner of the Jarman Award. Anja Kirschner (1977) currently lives in Athens, where she is working on her forthcoming horror-film project Moderation, as well as co-running an experimental arts programme at Circuits and Currents, the project space of the Athens School of Fine Art.


January 7 - January 14 - January 21 - January 4 - January 11 - February 18 - March 4 - March 11

13:30 to 15:30 to 17:30: talks ~ readings ~ presentations ~ performances ~ screenings
at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie

18 to 22 March: installations, actions & conference-festival at de Brakke Grond

*Studium Generale Rietveld Academie is a rambling, cross departmental and trans disciplinary lecture and performance program with an annually changing, overarching research theme, addressing students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, as well as the general public.

**Rietveld Uncut is an annual joint presentation by the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Within the Rietveld the process of making, from concept to work, is an important element throughout the whole study. This process often stays invisible to the outside world; Rietveld Uncut aims to shed a light on this unique, dynamic and experimental part of the academy and reveals this process to the public. Departments and individual students contribute with projects evolving around the research topic introduced by the many guest lecturers invited by Studium Generale Rietveld Academie.


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Framework studium generale: Gabriëlle Schleijpen