Thursday, June 27, 2019, 7 pm
Zum Begriff des Performativen in der zeitgenössischen Kunst (On the Notion of the Performative in Contemporary Art)

Panel discussion with John Bock (artist, Berlin), Gabriele Brandstetter (Professor of Theater Studies with a Focus on Dance Studies, Freie Universität Berlin), Anna-Catharina Gebbers (curator, Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin), moderated by Angela Rosenberg (curator, Berlin)


With his exhibition
Im AntliTZ des SchädelapparaTZ  at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (June 15 – July 28, 2019), John Bock has developed a new project that interlinks elements of installation, cinema and performance in four different rooms. The central piece of the exhibition is a 4.2-meter-high metal wedge hanging from the ceiling. In the two adjoining rooms, Bock has created two further independent, expansive installations.

The settings serve as a space for action for four dancers and one actor. The performative “lectures” involving the five live actors taking place here are an integral part of the exhibition. They are also at the center of a film that will be shown at n.b.k. from June 25, 2019, onwards. The works presented in the exhibition refer to the lifestyle of the American terrorist and former professor of mathematics Theodore Kaczynski (b. 1942, known as “Unabomber”) and to the Hanover serial killer Fritz Haarmann (b. 1879, d. 1925). In the “Leibraum” (body room), a second room level was installed using a grating floor, thus creating a gloomy-looking space which can only be looked at by the visitors from below. A slit silicone body is at the center, liquid dripping from its hair. The walls of the lower level are lined with metal plates. A further opening leads through a constricting corridor into the “Stube” (parlor), where a claustrophobic scenario unfolds.

In his works, John Bock brings together live actions, drawings, sculptures, installations, film sets and film projections to create a Gesamtkunstwerk. His spatial arrangements, which are characterized by extensive material combinations, can become a place for live actions, which the artist calls “lectures”.

Against this background, John Bock, Gabriele Brandstetter, Anna-Catharina Gebbers and the host Angela Rosenberg discuss various issues that are raised by the performative element in contemporary art: the balance of coincidence and control, the aspect of interaction with the audience, and the significance of scores and notation systems. On the basis of this range of topics, lines of development in performative art practices will be pointed out and John Bock’s oeuvre will be positioned within them.

In German
Free admission


John Bock
is an artist and has been teaching as professor for sculpture at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe since 2004. His work is built on a darkly tinted humor, which expresses itself not least on a linguistic level by means of neologisms, repetitions, onomatopoeia and surprising language combinations. Although his films and live actions elude any clear interpretation, there is a clear will behind Bock’s work to constantly expand the concept of art. His main concern is the dissolution of boundaries in art, whether regarding the abolition of genre boundaries and of static work concepts or regarding the relationship between recipient and artist. Solo exhibitions (selection): Fondazione Prada, Milan (2018); The Contemporary Austin (2017); La Panacée, Montpellier (2017); Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2017); Museum of the Moving Image, New York (2016); Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (2013); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2008); Group exhibitions (selection): Fondazione Prada, Milan (2017); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2015).

Gabriele Brandstetter is Professor of Theatre and Dance Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and since 2008, co-director of the International Research Center Verflechtungen von Theater-Kulturen (Interweaving Performance Cultures). Her research focuses on the history and aesthetics of dance, theater and literature from the 18th century to the present, virtuosity in art and culture, and the relationship between body, image and movement. In her more recent publications, she addresses political and aesthetic questions of dance, choreography and performance as well as questions of crossing frontiers, migration and decolonizing dance.

Anna-Catharina Gebbers is a Curator for Media and Performance Art at the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, where she was responsible for exhibitions by Anne Imhof and Julian Rosefeldt as well as group exhibitions such as moving is in every direction. Environments – Installations – Narrative Spaces (2017) and the exhibition chapter “Making Paradise. Places of Longing from Paul Gauguin to Tita Salina” (in collaboration with Grace Samboh and Enin Supriyanto) for Hello World. Revising a Collection (2018). Her previous projects also include Christoph Schlingensief’s retrospective (KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin and MoMA PS1, New York, together with Klaus Biesenbach and Susanne Pfeffer, 2013–2014), as well as exhibitions with artists such as Kader Attia, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Thomas Schütte, Santiago Sierra, Milica Tomić.

Angela Rosenberg is a curator researching artistic interventions in museums and collections and currently heads the mentoring program at the KuvA Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. In 2018, she was in charge of the curatorial management for Philippe Parreno’s exhibition at Gropius Bau. Together with artists she developed alternative presentation methods for the Humboldt Lab Dahlem, which were shown in 2012–2015 at the Museum of Asian Art and the Ethnological Museum, both part of the Berlin State Museums. For Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, a series curated by artists was developed, including John Bock’s spectacular exhibition FischGrätenMelkStand (herring bone parlor), 2010.