Forum Artistic Research

Lecture Performance


Felipe Steinberg

on  Fri, 12:00in  Neuer Saalfor  60min

“Opening” is an event (2018) and a lecture performance (2023). One does not exist without the other. “Opening” is a lecture performance that returns to a one-evening event, also titled “Opening,” that I conceived and organized at the Playhouse Theater in Houston in 2018, furthering my ongoing exploration of decentralization, labour practices, and the relation of artist and society. This was the first time that the theatre had been used in fifteen years, even though it had once been heralded as a landmark space as the world’s first “theatre-in-the-round,” that is, a round stage surrounded by the audience. It was built in 1951 as a promise for the creation of a theatre for democracy—a democratic surround. The event needed to be created in order for a story to be told. In that regard, “Opening” is also a digressive and wide-ranging lecture performance that uses the documentation of the 2018 event alongside never-before-seen documents and research material in order to take the audience on an exploration of the theatre, its surroundings, and the many layers of modern life hidden within this seemingly abandoned edifice. In a looped, poetic narrative, the question of expectations frames the story—the expectations about theatre and democracy, about urban planning and revitalization, and about what the public expects from art. In each pass of the loop, our expectations are thwarted: the theatre does not create community, but maps onto the Cold War plan for bombproof cities; the revitalization projects create innovation for some but leave many more behind; And the people who show up for the opening are not expected only because of who most of us imagine an art audience to be. I challenge us to reframe our expectations as we think about the lines between information, urbanism, entertainment, art, and propaganda. On how a series of decisions about the creation of a theatre for democracy (a stage, a city, a nation) is perpetually dispersed and delayed. And I bring these moments back together through small but not insignificant acts of assembly, assemblage, re-assemblage, and montage. In so doing, I carefully enact present-day constellations of conviviality, reflecting the lively ambiguities and utopias of different emancipatory projects.

 Overview  Program