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Klaus Scherübel, La Répétition (Prototype), VOL. 24, 2016.

It’s not about models, it’s about modeling

Sabeth Buchmann, Ilse Lafer and Constanze Ruhm

While the subject of ‘rehearsal’ is popular in film and theatre, as well as in the fine arts, it has been scarcely considered in historical and contemporary art discourses. It is with this in mind that the exhibition Putting Rehearsals to the Test investigates the role and function of the notion of “rehearsal,” understood as a methodology, a modus operandi, a medium, a site of representation and reflection for artistic production processes.

Building off of the notion of script with respect to scripting(s), this exhibition’s narrative points toward conceptual tools and documents such as scores, notations and actual scripts that themselves document earlier choreographies or events, or contingent elements that serve as instructions for prospective actions and situations; for example, Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit Book (1964/1970), whose scores evoke transitory topologies. Understood as rules that are generated through practice, these scripts render (when actualized) temporal and hierarchical distinctions between (historical) text and (actual) work. Such is the role of the performers in Martin Beck’s film The Environmental Witch-Hunt (2008), who in dealing with the ambivalent character of screenplay and instruction do what they rehearse and rehearse what they do. Deviating from the genre of re-enactment, the nexus of script and rehearsal doesn’t serve to reconstruct a historical event; rather, it intervenes in linear orders of the past, present and future in order to compound heterogeneous forms of (re-)articulation. With the video Test Print #2 (1989/2016), former theatre group minimal club (1983-1999) document their project Naturidentische Stoffe (nature-identical matter) by walking the camera through the exhibition space. Through this circumnavigation, rehearsals are constructed as momentary acts of interference between actors and objects.

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Based on a set of rules to be used as instructions for daily rehearsals and/or upcoming actions, scripts are located at the intersection and upon the fault lines between the performative and visual arts. At the same time, they deal with the (immaterial) ideas and (material) embodiments found between the routines and contingencies of “producing” and “making” art, as in the case of On Kawara’s Today Series (1966-2013), where the structure of daily life coincides with the timing of artistic labour. Since the artist understands his work to be daily “exercises,” executed in order to overcome egocentric notions of authorship, the linked procedures of repetition, permeation and alteration can be interpreted as a rehearsal in the sense of the ongoing work in becoming. Here a relation can be drawn with Hanako Geierhos’s Ontological Research (2011-2016), where the distinctions between minimalist forms, theatrical props and functional displays are blurred in order to create continuous and ever-shifting communication between objects and subjects—a moment that Geierhos’s Transitory Rituals (2012/2016) acts out by staging and projecting gestures (see SBC and VOX). Displaying a comparable structure of interrelations, Falke Pisano’s work examines the role of mathematical speculation as a prescription for social and aesthetic practice.

By isolating the traces of ideology in language, be it articulated through speech or extra-communicative gestures, rehearsals as a practice become sites and tools for a dialectics of trial and error, of functionality and failure. This bears on the construction of socio-cultural identity of subjects and objects, offering a means to address the history of colonialism and xenophobia, as in works by Katarina Zdjelar and Wendelien van Oldenborgh. In this frame, “speech acts” (as examined by Beck and Pisano) appear as “cultural techniques” that constantly must be rehearsed for the sake of mutual understanding and intercultural translation, but also in order to neutralize cultural and social differences (as seen in Zdjelar’s work The Perfect Sound (2009)). Rehearsals not only reveal the ideology and normativity behind verbal and body language, but also locate it in visual and aesthetic conventions. In her video installation No False Echoes (2008), Wendelien van Oldenborgh reflects on a program run by Philips Omroep Holland Indië, a broadcasting station operated by the Philips Corporation. Referring to its function as a medium for Dutch propaganda during the colonial occupation of Indonesia, the artist collaborated with invited speakers who offered a means to readdress the original project through recitations of their own experiences or the performance of texts drawn from colonial and anti-colonial documents.

When conceived as exercises, painterly gestures and actions can point beyond the suggestion of authenticity and individual expression to the timing and localization of art production. With painting, Merlin Carpenter relates rehearsing gestures to the institutional rules of exhibiting. His “opening paintings” operate as both time- and site-specific, oscillating between incomplete and ongoing productions or resolved and non-repeatable works (see VOX). Reproducing documentation of the conceptual bulletin boards used in A Model of Possible Action: An Experiment to Develop a New Methodology of Institutional Cooperation (2013), as a mural, Krüger & Pardeller emphasize the role these surfaces play as placeholders for information and mediation, marking the necessity of trying out new ideas toward collective (inter-)action (see SBC).

The reciprocal effects of learning and un-learning correspond with the modes of cinematic production, where political (self-)analysis is found in the framing of “in-the-making” procedures in order to create the source code for the overlapping spheres of art and politics. Repetitive exercises point to the internalized conditions of labour regimes and (self-) exploitation. Harun Farocki’s and Constanze Ruhm’s films reflect on the transformation of human beings into an accumulation of (gender-)roles that further trigger (stereo-)types and figures. Similarly, Rainer Bellenbaum’s video installation GOETHE/STRASSEN (2016) links geographical marked spaces and urban sites through accidental and staged performances by residents and passersby: scenes that foreground rehearsal as a historical and cultural technique inscribed into literary and cinematographic models of dialogue.

The performance of roles and figures in their work requisitions the (invisible) scripts that dictate behavioural, psycho-emotional and social patterns, a strategy shared with Ono, Beck and Pisano’s respective work. Regina (Maria) Möller’s curtains operate as a medium of transition between public and institutional spaces, embodying the transition between figure and actor, between “real” and “fictitious” space. Literally marking the symbolic position of rehearsal by integrating a large flag displaying a white chalk mark on a black background, an “X” signifying, on the one hand, the actors’ position, and on the other, a sign for shifting identities. Accordingly, the curtains blur the distinction between exhibition and theatre space: on stage is behind stage, after the rehearsal is before the rehearsal. Figures, roles, space, and time appear as entities that are never identical and are instead based on multiple differences and shifting relations.

Achim Lengerer’s continuous practice of editing magazines titled Scriptings serves as a tool for collaborative reading and writing as well as a medium that can be figured as a transitory object. Dealing with subjects and methodological devices from various fields (art, literature, film, theory, politics, science and technology) the editorial process creates a rehearsal-like scenario in which the participants (the active ones as well as the visitors) adopt and perform shifting roles. Here, Scriptings#46, A catalogue, in any case unreasoned and incomplete replaces the conventional exhibition texts.

Using a reproduction of one of Edgar Degas’s famous dance rehearsal paintings, aptly titled The Rehearsal (1874), Klaus Scherübel conceives a “calendar object” La répétition (Prototype), VOL. 24 (2016) whose presentation corresponds to the individual timeframes of the three exhibitions at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art and VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine. While every page of the calendar always displays the exactly same reproduction of the painting, it always refers to a different month, in this case from August to December. Conceptually autonomous in its referentiality to the history of painting, it becomes a functional object as well.

When the Guests Are Not Looking (2016) by Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens is a series of ephemeral, invisible performance rehearsals centered on the character of Denis Diderot’s dialogue Rameau’s Nephew (1762-1777). These performances take place outside of the galleries’ opening hours and are accessible only by way of a publication. While Ibghy & Lemmens’s ghost performer, whose actual existence is uncertain, literally rehearses in the institutional off space, Marie Claire Forté and Alanna Kraaijeveld (in dialogue with Sophie Bélair Clément) render visible a set of coordinates where the performers’ labour can be witnessed as their bodies moving through the history of choreography in their unannounced rehearsals titled Rehearsals for Collections de danses de Christian Rizzo, Gene Kelly et Stanley Donen, Édouard Lock, William Forsythe, Merce Cunningham, Saburo Teshigawara, Trisha Brown; Jeffrey Daniel, Michael Jackson et Vincent Patterson, Mats Ek, Dana Michel; Dana Foglia, Chris Grant et JaQuel Knight, Crystal Pite, Pina Bausch, Lloyd Newson, Tedd Robinson, Hofesh Shechter, Bob Fosse, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Daniel Linehan, Amanda Acorn, Jiři Kilyán, Akram Khan, Stijn Celis, Deborah Hay, Liz Santoro et Pierre Godard, Marie Claire Forté, Meg Stuart et Philipp Gehmacher et d’autres.

Together with Achim Lengerer’s Scriptings publication, these performances take place in and around all three spaces, thereby linking the three scenarios of the exhibition Putting Rehearsals to the Test into one complex constellation of rehearsals.

Considering the exhibition as an entanglement of content, method and form, where each component is indissolubly linked, the idea of rehearsal here is not reducible to an assumed method underlying the exhibition. Rather, it is in the work that an exhibition as rehearsal is able to release—a work that isn’t always visible—where rehearsal can be found oscillating between the notion of “the making of” (rehearsal as narrative subject) and as something “in-the-making”(rehearsal as work to be offered).

The complete essay can be downloaded in the Texts and Documents section.



Agamben, Giorgio. “Notes on Gesture.” Means without End: Notes on Politics. Trans. Vincenzo Binetti. University of Minnesota Press, 2000, 49-60. Print.

Baraitser, Lisa and Simon Bayley. “Now and Then: Psychoanalysis and the Rehearsal Process.” Psychoanalysis and Performance. Ed. Patrick Campbell and Adrian Kear. Routledge, 2001, 61-62. Print.

Bryan-Wilson, Julia. “Practicing Trio A.October 140 (Spring 2012): 54–74. Print. <>

Bellour, Raymond. “Cine-repetitions.” Screen 2 (1972): 65–72.

Boltanski, Luc and Eve Chiapello. The New Spirit of Capitalism. Trans. Gregory Elliott. Verso, 2007.  

Buchmann, Sabeth and Constanze Ruhm. “Subject Put to the Test.” Texte zur Kunst 90 (2013). Web. <>

Read more

Buchmann, Sabeth, Ilse Lafer and Constanze Ruhm, eds. Putting Rehearsals to the Test: Practices of Rehearsal in Fine Arts, Film, Theater, Theory, and Politics. Sternberg Press, 2016. Print.

Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal 40.4 (December 1988): 516-531. Print.

Citton, Yves. Gestes d’humanités. Anthropologie sauvage de nos expériences esthétiques. Armand Colin, 2012. Print.

Farocki, Harun and Kaja Silverman. “Moving Pictures: Passion (1981).” Speaking about Godard. New York University Press, 1998, 170-96. Print.

Foucault, Michel. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-79. Trans. Graham Burchell. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Print.

Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Overlook Press, 1973. Print.

Lehmann, Hans-Thies. Postdramatic Theatre. Trans. Karen Jürs-Munby. Routledge, 2006. Print.


To read the curatorial essay accompanying the exhibition presented at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, please click here.

To read the curatorial essay accompanying the exhibition presented at VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine, please click here.

Biographies, explore questions and references compiled and formulated with the research assistance of Claire Embree-Lalonde (Young Canada Works, Summer 2016).

Produced with the support of the Frederick and Mary Kay Lowy Art Education Fund.


Sabeth Buchmann

Sabeth Buchmann is an art historian and critic who divides her time between Berlin and Vienna. She is Professor of Modern and Postmodern Art at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Together with Helmut Draxler, Clemens Krümmel and Susanne Leeb, she co-edits polypen, a series on art criticism and political theory, published by b_books, Berlin. Recent publications include Hélio Oiticica, Neville D’Almeida and others: Block-Experiments in Cosmococa, London, 2013 (with Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz); Film, Avantgarde und Biopolitik, Vienna, 2009 (co-edited with Helmut Draxler and Stephan Geene); Denken gegen das Denken. Produktion – Technologie – Subjektivität bei Sol LeWitt, Yvonne Rainer und Hélio Oiticica, Berlin, 2007; as well as Art After Conceptual Art, MIT Press/Generali Foundation Collection Series, 2006 (co-edited with Alexander Alberro).

Constanze Ruhm

Constanze Ruhm is an artist, filmmaker and author based in Vienna and Berlin. From 1996 to 1997 she was Guest Professor of Visual Communication at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach/Main; between 2004 and 2006 was Professor of Film and Video at Merz Academy Stuttgart, and since 2006 has been Professor of Art and Media at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. From 2008 to 2011, she was Adjunct Professor at the Art Institute Boston of Lesley University.

Curatorial projects include: Fate of Alien Modes at Secession in 2003, as well as projects and contributions within the haus.0 program at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (with Fareed Armaly) between 2000 and 2003; and, more recently, the series Putting Rehearsals to the Test (with Sabeth Buchmann) at MUMOK Cinema Vienna (curated by Matthias Michalka). She has also been involved in numerous international exhibitions, projects in public spaces, publications, film festivals (recently, Berlinale/Forum Expanded; Essay Film Festival, London) and symposia (Utopia of Sound, with Diedrich Diederichsen, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, 2008; Putting Rehearsals to the Test, with Sabeth Buchmann, Academy of Fine Arts, 2013). Her artistic practice focuses on relations between cinema, new media and theatrical forms, and investigates issues of female identity and representation. Her productions emerge at the intersection of installation, film, video, web-based projects and publications.

Ilse Lafer

Ilse Lafer lives and works in Vienna. She was curator at the Generali Foundation, Vienna (2008 to 2015). She was previously assistant curator at the Kunsthalle Wien (1998 to 2008) and an educator at Universalmuseum Joanneum Graz. She is currently a lecturer at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Notable exhibitions include: Die Toten. Hans-Peter Feldmann. RAF, APO, Baader-Meinhof: 1967–1993, Kunsthalle Wien, 2007; Chen Zhen. Der Körper als Landschaft, Kunsthalle Wien, 2007; Modernism as a Ruin – An Archaeology of the Present, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2009; Behind the Fourth Wall, Ficitious Lives – Lived Fictions, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2010; unExhibit, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2011; Morgan Fisher. The Frame and Beyond, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2012; Counter-Production, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2012; Counter-Production II, INDEX, The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm, 2013; Were I made of matter, I would color. Ulrike Grossarth, Generali Foundation, Vienna, 2014; Be a Place. Place an Image, Imagine a Poem. Ree Morton, a Restrospective, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2015. She is equally the author of numerous essays.


Artists and works

Martin Beck

Martin Beck is a New York-based artist whose exhibitions and projects engage questions of historicity and authorship and often draw from the fields of architecture, design and popular culture. A leitmotif in Beck’s practice is the notion of display. His work frequently addresses histories of communication formats and negotiate display’s function as a condition of image making. Recent exhibitions include Last Night at Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2013), Presentation at 47 Canal, New York (2012); Panel 2 – “Nothing better than a touch of ecology and catastrophe to unite the social classes…” at Gasworks, London (2008); as well as contributions to The Whole Earth at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2013), Communitas at Camera Austria, Graz (2011), the 29th Sao Paulo and the 4th Bucharest Biennales (2010). the particular way in which a thing exists (2012) at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery in Montreal was the first exhibition to bring together and examine projects produced over the last ten years. Beck is the author of an Exhibit viewed played populated (2005), About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe (2007), Last Night (2013) and the editor of The Aspen Complex (2012).

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-30The Environmental Witch-Hunt, 2008
Video installation, HD video,
10 min. 02 sec.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-34Aspen (“Man-Made Environment” – Ivan Chermayeff for Reyner Banham For IDCA)
Aspen (“Problems, Problems” – Ivan Chermayeff for Reyner Banham For IDCA)
Aspen (“Beetle Country” – Ivan Chermayeff for Reyner Banham For IDCA)
Aspen (“The Orders of Freedom” – Ivan Chermayeff for Reyner Banham For IDCA)
Aspen (“Polarization” – Ivan Chermayeff for Reyner Banham For IDCA)
Five framed silkscreens, each 46.4 x 43.6 cm

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-04Panel (red, yellow, blue), 2008/2016.
Coloured fabric panels
Dimensions variable

Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York

The Environmental Witch-Hunt is one part of an installation Martin Beck produced for Panel 2—“Nothing better than a touch of ecology and catastrophe to unite the social classes …” first mounted at Gasworks in London and concerning the famous (or rather, infamous) International Design Conference in Aspen (IDCA) in 1970, which witnessed fundamental conflicts arise between the art, architecture and design avant-gardes and emerging social movements of that time. As an element of this larger project the film presented here refers to a pamphlet compiled by Jean Baudrillard and delivered by a group of architects, designers and sociologists, known as the French Group, during the course of the Aspen conference. Addressing the struggle for democratic participation and fair representation, the text is realized in the form of a reading rehearsal. We observe a heterogenous group of people simulating a panel discussion set in the woods near Aspen.


  • What is the aim of a rehearsing or rearticulating a manifesto? From where historically is it pronounced and to whom is it addressed?
  • Beck uses seemingly simple display strategies as supports for his analysis of the relationship between the past and present experiences of politics and art. How do his coloured panels change or work with the exhibition space? Think about them in relation to the wooded scenes of his video and in correspondence with the other works in the exhibition.

For more informatioN

Baudrillard, Jean et al.. “The Environmental Witch-Hunt. Statement by the French Group. 1970.” Mute, 9 July 2008. Web. <>

Tang, Jeannine. “Unsustainable Design” On Martin Beck’s The Environmental Witch-Hunt, 2008.” Artforum, September 2013, pp.388-389. Print. <>

“Ways of Thinking: Martin Beck: the particular way in which a thing exists.” Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Web <>

Rainer Bellenbaum

Born in 1957, Rainer Bellenbaum is a media studies scholar and film critic who lives and works in Berlin and Vienna. He has produced numerous short films since 1983, focusing from 1986 to 2005 on cinematography, research and television reporting. Bellenbaum is contributing author to several books and magazines, among them Texte zur Kunst, Springerin, and Camera Austria, and recently published Cinematographic Action: From the Film Avant-Garde to Exhibition Film with b_books in 2013. Notably, in 2011 he participated in the group exhibition Getting Ahead: Art Language Cinema Migration alongside fellow artists Achim Lengerer, Farida Heuck and Susanne M. Winterling, at the Kunstpavillion in Innsbruck, Austria.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-05GOETHE/STRASSEN, 2016
Two channel video installation on 2 iPads, colour, sound
Courtesy of the artist

No question, “Goethe” today serves as a brand name for “German” identity. Linking geographical marked sites and social spaces through accidental and staged performances by residents and passersby, the “Goethe Street” appears at once as a representative and contingent signifier for the inscription of cultural and historical meaning into the public consciousness. Shot in numerous German and European cities, the heterogenous locations and urban designs of these “Goethe Streets” provoke an examination of identity-based forms of national and/or local representation. Quotes from selected letters by the German poet, scientist and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) serve as arbitrary scripts for the gestures of those who pass through and inhabit these main and minor streets and sites that bear his name. As such the streets appears as resonating chambers for a dialogue between Goethe’s letters and filmic research.


  • What happens to incidental gestures seen on the streets when they are recruited to act out or respond to Wolfgang von Goethe’s poetry?
  • By literally mapping the trajectory of “Goethe” through Europe Bellenbaum asks the viewer to analyze the links between geography and national identity. In addition to observing passersby’s behaviours what might it mean to read “Goethe” as an idea traveling across a range of German and non-German contexts? How might this complicate ideas of shared or imposed cultural references?

For more information

Bellenbaum, Rainer. “Controversial Flattening.” Rev. of Flatness: Cinema after the Internet. 2013 International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. Springerin. Web. <>

Bellenbaum, Rainer. “Entering into Dialogue.” Rev. of Owen Land: Dialogues. Kunsthalle Bern. Texte zur Kunst 75 (2009). Print. <>

Merlin Carpenter

Merlin Carpenter was born in 1967 in Pembury, United Kingdom. Between 1986 and 1989 he attended the Saint Martin School of Art in London where he developed his artistic and theoretic approaches. Carpenter’s artworks are known to create dialogue regarding the boundaries between art and its markets, all the while blatantly mocking the artworld institution itself. In order to ultimately unpack the conditions of “high art,” Carpenter employs the mediums of performance and physical works, sparking uncompromising dialogue. Carpenter has held many solo exhibitions in major European and American institutions, such as the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway, and the Secession in Vienna, Austria. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions internationally, including at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the Whitechapel Gallery in London, and at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. Some published monographs on the artist include Nueva Generación (2004), Merlin Carpenter – Social Aesthetics (2010) and The Opening (2011). Today, Carpenter lives and works in Shepperton, UK.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-79The Opening – The Black Paintings #02, 2007
Oil on linen, 213 x 152.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York

Merlin Carpenter’s paintings belong to a series titled The Opening indicating that they were done during the opening reception, thus relating procedures of rehearsing gestures to institutional rules of exhibiting (see VOX). Time- and site-specific, these “opening paintings” oscillate between incomplete and ongoing productions and complete and non-repeatable works. As situated communication with the visitors, they link the act of painting to the institutional frameworks of spectatorship. The “opening paintings,” which feature painted words and sentences that remind us of slogans associated with the field of art (e.g. Joseph Beuys) and political activism (e.g. demonstration banners by the Occupy movement), connect the white cube’s interior to its exterior. Some are direct comments on their respective context of exhibition, while others consist of seemingly arbitrary gestures and signs or assume the form of a black canvas. Together, they contribute to a repetitive structure that evokes doubt in the possibility of any aesthetic and political significance beyond concrete social interactions.


  • Consider the social routines and ceremonies that are assumed to be necessary for the crowning of art’s value. How does this work attempt record and agitate these investments? Is the artist’s unique authorship troubled or does it remain intact?
  • Is the artwork complete or ongoing? After the event of the opening what happens to our understanding of the works as they continue to circulate via exhibitions and the art market?

For more information

Carpenter, Merlin. “The Outside Can’t Go Outside.” USC Roski. 9 December 2013. Lecture. <>

Busta, Caroline. “Merlin Carpenter: Reena Spaulings Fine Art.” Rev. of The Opening.

Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York. Artforum, December 2007. Print. <>

Harun Farocki

Harun Farocki was born in Neutitschein, in German-annexed Czechoslovakia, in 1944. Since graduating from Berlin’s Deutsche Film-und Fernsehakademie in 1966, and has directed more than 90 films including feature films, documentaries and television programs. Farocki was a media theorist and writer and an editor for the influential German film journal Filmkritik from 1974 to 1984. As well, he collaborated with numerous filmmakers as a scriptwriter, actor and producer. His films have been the subject of retrospectives at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona in 2004, and the Vienna Filmmuseum in 2006. He participated in important international events such as the 2005 Carnegie International and Documenta XII (2007). He held many teaching posts and between 1993 and 1999 he taught at the University of California Berkeley. Beginning in 2004 he was a visiting professor at Vienna’s Akademie für Bildende Künste, and between 2006 and 2011 he was a full professor at the Academy of Art, Vienna. Forocki worked with his partner Antje Ehmann on the long-term project Labour in a Single Shot from 2011 until 2014 when he passed away near Berlin at the age of 70.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-22Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet at Work on a Film Based on Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”, 1983
Video, colour, sound, 26 min.
Courtesy of Harun Farocki, GbR

“This film is at once a self-portrait and a homage to Jean-Marie Straub, Farocki’s role model and former teacher at the Film Academy. Farocki’s admiration for Straub was so great that he said of Between Two Wars: ‘Perhaps I only made this film to earn Straub’s recognition’,” writes film theorist Tilman Baumgärtel on Harun Farocki’s observational documentary in which Farocki himself is rehearsing under Straub and Huillets’s direction for his role as Delamarche in their film Klassenverhältnisse (Class Relations, 1983). Stage directions such as “Then we’ll see that it’s too much and we’ll do it again” and similar commentaries are repeated by Straub over and over again during the course of the rehearsal. Not unlike Bresson, yet still very distinct, Straub is notorious for the exhausting processes of rehearsal through which he put his actors and actresses. “Yes, now the sentence. Again.” Farocki the actor, despite having to keep repeating the sentence, cannot refrain from being a filmmaker. Performance and its observation are conflated into a beautiful homage to Straub and Huillet whose methods were so foundational for Farocki’s own œuvre.


  • How the film documents mentorship and inter-generational relationships. How Farocki’s restages or reviews his own education through his rehearsals on film.
  • Straub’s directing techniques and the demands put on the actors to achieve something known to the director and which they will come to experience and recognize.

For more information

Artist’s website <>

Farocki, Harun. “On the Documentary.” e-flux journal at 56th Venice Biennale, 5 December, 2015. Web. <>

Habib, André and Pavel Pavlov. “D’une image à l’autre: Conversation avec Harun Farocki.” Hors-Champ, 20 December 2007. Web. <>

“Ways of Thinking: Harun Farocki: ‘One image doesn’t take the place of the previous one.’” Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Web. <>

Marie Claire Forté and Alanna Kraaijeveld

Marie Claire aime penser qu’on peut toujours élargir notre champ perceptuel; inclure plus, comprendre plus, jouir plus… Choreographer and dancer, she leads projects and has recently been working with Sophie Bélair Clément, Alanna Kraaijeveld, PME-ART, Louise Bédard, Martin Bélanger and Projet bk, amongst others. Elle a dansé quatre saisons pour le défunt Groupe Lab de danse (Ottawa) où elle s’entraînait auprès de Peter Boneham. Alongside and through her artistic practice, she translates, writes and teaches dance. Marie Claire has been supported and inspired by people and institutions, namely k.g. Guttman, Lynda Gaudreau, the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Michèle Thériault, Catherine Lalonde, Ame Henderson, Public Recordings, Katya Montaignac, Et Marianne et Simon, Catherine Lavoie-Marcus, Toronto Dance Theatre, Noémie Solomon, Jody Hegel, Adam Kinner, Tangente, Circuit-Est, Studio 303, the Casino Luxembourg, Artexte, WP Zimmer and the RQD. Elle sera interprète en résidence à l’Agora de la danse de 2017 à 2019.

Dancer, teacher and improviser, Alanna Kraaijeveld is interested in playfulness, endurance, timing and rigour. This season, she is working with Louise Bédard Danse, Dave St-Pierre, Justine A. Chambers and Marie Claire Forté. Her quixotic movement style, humour and adaptability have supported her in diverse projects, namely those of Susanna Hood, Yves Charuest, Et Marianne et Simon, Mélanie Demers, Sylvain Émard Danse, RQD, Dancemakers, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Studio 303, Circuit-Est, Concordia University, L’école de danse contemporaine de Montréal. Alanna’s practice is greatly influenced by the four seasons she was a member of the now defunct Le Groupe Dance Lab under the direction of Peter Boneham. Her study of movement and teaching is ongoing. She trains with Linda Kapetanea and Jozef Frucek, co-developers of Fighting Monkey movement research and runs a training group where she explores less traditional training forms.

Marie Claire Forté and Alanna Kraaijeveld
Rehearsals for Collections de danses de Christian Rizzo, Gene Kelly et Stanley Donen, Édouard Lock, William Forsythe, Merce Cunningham, Saburo Teshigawara, Trisha Brown; Jeffrey Daniel, Michael Jackson et Vincent Patterson, Mats Ek, Dana Michel; Dana Foglia, Chris Grant et JaQuel Knight, Crystal Pite, Pina Bausch, Lloyd Newson, Tedd Robinson, Hofesh Shechter, Bob Fosse, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Daniel Linehan, Amanda Acorn, Jiři Kilyán, Akram Khan, Stijn Celis, Deborah Hay, Liz Santoro et Pierre Godard, Marie Claire Forté, Meg Stuart et Philipp Gehmacher et d’autres, 2016
A series of unannounced rehearsals

Marie Claire Forté and Alanna Kraaijeveld, two mid-career dancers, assemble sequences from choreographies they love to offer the energy of dancing in a gallery setting. In performance, a set of screens will obstruct and deconstruct their moving bodies. Three different galleries will each host rehearsals of their performance for Putting Rehearsals to the Test. Occurring unannounced and without the set these rehearsals will trouble the nature and reading of the dance. The choreography is part of I’d rather something ambiguous. Mais précis à la fois., a collaborative exhibition project with Sophie Bélair Clément that will be presented subsequent to Putting Rehearsals to the Test at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery.


  • How do you identify or recognize a rehearsal if it occurs unannounced and seemingly spontaneously?
  • What are the different modes of viewership between observing a rehearsal and a performance?

For more information

“’Donner corps à l’être ensemble’: Correspondance entre Marie Claire Forté et Katya Montaignac.” Regards critiques sur la danse. 17 December 2015. Web. <>

Hanako Geierhos

Hanako Geierhos was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1974. She studied Textile Art and Design in Hamburg and Krefeld, and completed her M.A at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. She considers art to be an instrument of communication and a platform through which one articulates sensory experience, different forms of communication, individual or collective perceptions of space, and social interactions. Geierhos’s work moves between fine arts, design and theory within an intercultural context, with the ultimate objective of making observable the systemic and constructivist facets of society. In order to highlight forms of communication, Geierhos incorporates into her works objects and props, as well as participatory sculptures. She has taken part in several solo and group exhibitions in international institutions, including at the Praterstrasse, Berlin, at the JIWAR in Barcelona, and at the Kunsthalle in Vienna. She lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-75Untitled, 2011
Installation of minimal elements: foam, wood, leather, books, wooden plates
Dimensions variable

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-69Transitory Rituals, 2012-2016
Installation with slide projection, 80 slides, 35 mm, 2 x 2 inches including:
Transitory Rituals, #02, Delhi, 2012
Transitory Rituals, #03, Cotonou, 2012
Transitory Rituals, #04, Marseille, 2013
Transitory Rituals, #05, Barcelona, 2014
Transitory Rituals, #06, Marrakech, 2015

img-922115237-0001Ontological Rehearsals: Masks, Props, Sculptures, 2010
Artist Book, 128 pp. 20 x 25.5 cm thread stitching in loose cover
German / English,

Courtesy of the artist

Geierhos’s artist book Ontological Rehearsals: Masks, Props, Sculptures consist of a flexible modular system made of minimal leather elements, metal plates and participatory sculptures that change in relation to site-specific conditions and temporal processes (see SBC and VOX). In connection with Transitory Rituals, a multi-part slide projection showing a repertoire of gestures taking place at various locations, Geierhos’s project coordinates what she terms a “correlation” of objects, images, actions and interactions constituted by their internal connectivity as well as their dependency on visitors’s use of them. The rehearsal format serves as a means toward repetitive and unpredictable communication. By including the concomitant publication as part of the installation, the documentation of Geierhos’s works becomes a score that can be read as a proposal for further realizations.


  • Geierhos stresses the importance of correlation and inter-connectivity between objects and actors. How do you approach and begin to correspond with a work that asks you to figure communication through objects?
  • Are these objects bound to Geierhos’s work or can they travel and be brought into contact with other works in the show? Geierhos documented the use of her objects in a variety of locations outside of a gallery context. What sort of tasks, uses and forms did these objects take on in India, Morocco or Spain? How do they compare to the possible arrangements in the gallery?

For more information

Geierhos, Hanako. Ontological Rehearsals: Masks, Props, Sculptures. Vienna: Schlebrugge. 2010. Print.

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens have developed a collaborative practice that combines a concise approach to the form and construction of the art object with a desire to make ideas visible. Spanning across multiple media, including video, performance and installation, their work explores the material, affective and sensory dimensions of experience that cannot be fully translated into signs or systems. For several years, they have examined the rationale upon which economic actions are described and represented, and how the logic of economy has come to infiltrate the most intimate aspects of life.

Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (New York, 2016), Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Montreal, 2016), VOX – Centre de l’image contemporaine (Montreal, 2014), Trinity Square Video (Toronto, 2014), Monte Vista Projects (Los Angeles, 2012) and G Gallery (Toronto, 2012), among others. They have participated in a number of group exhibitions including the 14th Istanbul Biennial SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms (Istanbul, 2015), La Biennale de Montréal, L’avenir (looking forward) (Montreal, 2014), 27th Images Festival (Toronto, 2014), Manif d’art 7: Quebec City Biennial (Quebec City, 2014), La Filature, Scène Nationale (Mulhouse, France, 2013-14), Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Høvikodden, Norway, 2013), Centre for Contemporary Arts (Glasgow, 2012), and the 10th Sharjah Biennial (Sharjah, UAE, 2011).

They live and work in Montreal and Durham-Sud, Quebec.

dsc_0429When the Guests Are Not Looking, 2016
Publication, English

Courtesy of the artists

When the Guests Are Not Looking is an extended project consisting of a publication and a series of performances centered on the title character of Denis Diderot’s dialogue Rameau’s Nephew (1762-1777). In the character of the nephew, Diderot presents a hero of indiscipline, a buffoon and an idler, a subject who operates in the margins of the Enlightenment, a period that is at the root of our contemporary obsession with work and productivity.

For the project, a performer will rehearse ephemeral and often invisible performances in and around exhibition spaces outside of the galleries’ opening hours. The actions will not be fully scripted nor will they be performed for a public. Rather, they will constitute open scenarios that have the qualities of ephemerality, of pointlessness, of a gust of wind. The activities will be primarily accessible through a publication distributed in the exhibition spaces, which will include drawings as well as written descriptions of the actions conducted as part of the project. Through a framework of contradictions, games of visibility and invisibility, fact and fiction, and upsets, When the Guests Are Not Looking questions the process of artistic production, the spectator’s expectations and the productive function of the exhibition format itself.


  • How the bookwork acts as a placeholder or guide for an ephemeral performance.
  • The ways of witnessing or apprehending a performance that is locked out of the gallery and left to linger around after closing hours.

For more information

Artists’ website <>

Cooley, Alison. “Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens on Non-Doing in Art.” Canadian Art, 14 May 2014. Web. <>

“Ways of Thinking: Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens: Putting Life to Work.” Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Web. <>

On Kawara

On Kawara, born in 1932 in Kariya, Japan, is considered to be one of the greatest representatives of conceptual art. Over the course of five decades, the autodidactic artist created paintings, drawings, books, and recordings, which examined chronological time and its function as a measurement of human existence. In New York on January 4, Kawara began creating his Date Paintings (entitled Today Series), monochrome canvases on which figure only the date of their production, in white-painted letters and numbers, a work that he pursued until his death in 2014. This approach infiltrated into his other projects, including his book series One Million Years, in which are enumerated by typewriter all the years that make up one million years.

img-922114631-0001June 9, 1991. From the “Today” Series (1966-…), 1994
Artist book, 20 x 15. 5 cm

Initiated in 1966 On Kawara’s Today Series and Date Paintings serve as serial and accumulative procedures to record time.  The production of “images” based on standard time, reveals a nexus of repetitive exercises and a regulation of the working procedure.  A representative of historical Conceptual Art, the Japanese artist developed a kind of mediation and exercise to overcome his ego. In an attempt to rid himself of Western ideas of the individual subject he challenged traditional concepts of author-centered object production. He complemented his paintings with forms of communication related to “mail art”—such as telegrams and postcards— so that communication with specific addressees became a central part of his artistic endeavour to connect the principles of serial art, located in contingency and chance, with the rule-based procedures of daily rituals. Linking working hours to the category of time as well as to that of site-specify, Kawara’s date and mail pieces deal with mobility and flexibility within an expanding economy of signs.


  • The book chronicles Kawara’s art-making process where a painting is commenced and finished on the same day. Consider how time is further registered in this sequence of images through the surrounding objects. Observe the cigarettes accumulating in the ashtray, the advance of the small clock on the table and the jars of hand-mixed paint.
  • The book on view here focuses on the execution of a private set of rules. After completion the work is placed in a hand-made cardboard box lined with a newspaper clipping from the daily paper. Once removed from the box and displayed in a gallery, the viewer is left to consider the artist’s record of a concentrated period of painting as well as the histories that they bring to the date. Consider how the uniformity of Kawara’s practice can also deliver a great deal of variation and sense of simultaneity. How many histories are at play here?

For more information

Schjeldahl, Peter. “A Painting a Day: On Kawara’s extraordinary project.” The New Yorker 16 February 2015. Web. <>

Joan Kee, “Uncommon Knowledge.” Artforum January 2015: 170-177. Print. <>

Krüger & Pardeller

Doris Krüger was born in Vienna, Austria, Walter Pardeller was born in Bolzano, Italy. They collaborate since 2005, living and working in Vienna.

The Austrian/Italian artist-duo aligns itself with a socially activated, political understanding of aesthetics. Working predominantly with sculpture and installation a concept of production emerges—in the words of Krüger & Pardeller, “concrete openness.” Crucially, this openness does not only stand for a transgression of the traditional concept of work, but also brings the concrete rules and conditions of a participative practice into play, a work form invested with continuation and completion.

Their exhibitions include Display of the Centuries, ACF, New York (2015), HOMO FABER, A Spatial Audioplay in Three Parts, 21-Haus, Vienna (2014), The Magic of Diversity, MAK – Museum of Applied Arts|Contemporary Art (2012), THE COLLECTION IN ACTION. Media Works from Vito Acconci to Simon Starling, Museion, Bolzano (2011), Distancing/Attracting Occupations, Museum für konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt (2010), 2009 Tension, Austrian Frederick Kiesler Foundation, Vienna (2009).

Krüger & Pardeller also published AESTHETIC BASIC CHRONICLE, VOL.1, Sternberg Press, Berlin (2014) and UNDISCIPLINED, The Phenomenon of Space in Art, Architecture and Design, Springer, New York (2008).

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-53A Model of Possible Action: An Experiment to Develop a New Methodology of Institutional Cooperation2013

Scene 4 / Intermission, 2016

Mural, 400 x 800 cm

Courtesy of Krüger & Pardeller / MoPA

A Model of Possible Action is a rehearsal scenario conceived by Krüger & Pardeller. In response to an invitation by a Norwegian art institution to reflect on the programmatic future of the institution, the artist duo conducted five workshops to develop a rehearsal scenario. They worked with an organizational consultant, an art historian and a museum director, in order to reflect on the consultant’s coaching methods in terms of their effects on artistic-aesthetic processes.

The arrangements developed by Krüger & Pardeller incorporate flipcharts, pin boards, diagrams, “cornerstones” and “milestones” that are activated in the framework of prepared “scenes.” The methodologies that come into being at the intersections of institutional critique and organizational theory are not only related, they share formal solutions. For Putting Rehearsals to the Test, Krüger & Pardeller transfer such a “scene” into the exhibition space as a mural, and thus mark the exhibition space as an ambiguous institutional site.


  • How does the presentation of the work function within the gallery space as a mural? Does it transpose or suggest that the gallery could become a work place or a conference room? As a document on the wall does the mural suggest that the gallery itself is an oversized bulletin board?
  • What are the scenes that Krüger & Pardeller set with their office material? What meanings does the language of “strategic planning” and “rehearsal scenarios” take on when used in educational, cultural and corporate contexts? Consider how these contexts and working vocabularies can occur simultaneously in the same institutional space.

For more information

Artists’ website <>

Krüger & Pardeller. Aesthetic Basic Chronicle Vol 1. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014. Print. <>

Achim Lengerer

Achim Lengerer is an artist living in Berlin and London. Lengerer’s work is based on questions surrounding language, which he addresses through performances, installations, and publications. In the past few years, Lengerer founded different collaborative projects, such as “freitagsküche” with Michael Riedel in Frankfort and Berlin, and “voiceoverhead”, with Israeli artist Dani Gal. Since 2009, Lengerer has directed the Scriptings project, an itinerant exhibition space and instant publishing house which serves as a discursive platform parallel and complimentary to his individual projects. Lengerer is currently pursuing his doctorate at the Goldsmith University of London, England. His research focuses on “repetition” (rehearsal), which he considers to be an artistic method and sociopolitical form, specifically with regards to the relationship between voice, notation and performance.

dsc_0428Achim Lengerer in collaboration with Shahin Farzaneh, Julia Piccolo, Kendra Place, Nathalie Quagliotto, Hugo Rincé, Catherine Sabourin
Scriptings#46, A catalogue, in any case unreasoned and incomplete, 2016
Digital printing
English and French
Edition of 90

Achim Lengerer runs the Berlin-based showroom and publishing house Scriptings that engages with artists, writers, graphic designers, performers as well as publishers who are working with the formats of script and text within their processes of production. Scriptings—the word itself a hybrid combining “script” and “writings”—functions as a container for materials and as a module in the process of creation, acting as a record, imprint, transcript, memo, logbook, and image archive of research activities. For the exhibition, Lengerer contributes a publication that operates as an exhibition reader and guide, while keeping its form open and fleeting. Scriptings#46 was developed directly in the exhibition space of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery during a two-week long collaborative workshop.


  • How do you navigate the exhibition with Scripting#46 in hand? Does it direct or interrupt your habits as a viewer?
  • Scriptings#46 is the result of an intensive period of collective reading and decision-making. Consider how the publication records its own production process and what it means for an ad-hoc collective to deliver the curators’ texts.

For more information

Artist’s website <>

Lengerer, Achim. “The Deadpan Projectionist.” We write, right? 5 (2015). Web. <>

minimal club

minimal club is a group of artists founded in Munich and Berlin in 1983, initially created by Elfe Brandenburger, Sabeth Buchmann, and Stephan Geene, and subsequently included David Hudson, Stefan Schmit-K, Imke Toksöz, and Mano Wittmann. Their newspaper publication A.N.Y.P. (Anti New York Pläne) // Zeitung für 10 Jahre has been published annually since 1989. Additionally, the works of minimal club look at themes and concepts of technology, gender, and political theory. They have directed several theatrical plays, video works, texts, and installation pieces.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-65Test Print #2, 1989/2016
video 8 mm/digital, colour, sound, 10 min.

Courtesy of the artists

minimal club (1983-1999) was an artist group based on collective practice ranging from theatre, performance and fictive tv-shows, to situative exhibitions and the production of a newspaper (A.N.Y.P. – Zeitung für zehn Jahre). In 2016, Elfe Brandenburger and Stephan Geene started to investigate their previous work trying to measure their distance to this anterior “world” in terms of aesthetic, cultural and historical differences. In the case of Test Print #2 they reconsidered a play by the then active members of the minimal club (besides themselves: Sabeth Buchmann, David Hudson, Stefan Schmit-K, Imke Toksöz and Mano Wittmann) and staged in 1989 at the Kunstverein Munich. They further enlarged the play by inviting artists Jutta Koether and Nina Hoffmann as well as the Berlin-based artist group, Tödliche Doris to arrange their works around the notion of “nature-identical matter.” The video Test Print #2 (1989/2016), which was filmed by walking the camera through the exhibition space, documents the project Naturidentische Stoffe (nature-identical matter) in a way that constructs moments of rehearsal as acts of interference between actors and objects


  • The act of (re)viewing the works in an exhibition, the documentation of a performance and the social life around a gallery. Note the self-reflexive subtitles added in retrospect.
  • How the camera in the hands of one member of minimal club navigates the exhibition space. In what ways does it step into a mise-en-scene coordinated by the artists to engage with the art works on display? How does it cast the protagonists?

For more information

minimal club chronology <>


minimal club, parallelwährung, MUMOK, Vienna, 21 October 2015 <>

Regina (Maria) Möller

Regina (Maria) Möller is a German artist who lives and works in Berlin and Trondheim in Norway. She is also the author and founder of the magazine Regina, as well as the creator of the art label “embodiment.” Möller’s artistic approach draws on a wide range of medial forms and a complex intertwining of stories that often relate to the concept of identity. She employs strategies and methods inherent to media with which she works and adapts in order to reveal the presence of alternative interpretations to those immediately observable in her works. Möller’s projects and works have been internationally exhibited, notably at such institutions as the Manifest 1, the Venice Biennale, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Liverpool, the Secession in Vienna, Berlin’s 3rd Biennale, the Sprengel Museum Hannover and at the Kunstverein München.

Various textiles
Dimensions variable
Production assistant: Tuan Nguyen

Courtesy of the artist

Regina (Maria) Möller’s Drapery takes up the notion of the (theatre) curtain — a device that is used to cover and unveil, to hide and expose, to connect backstage and proscenium, while also acting as a transitional medium between public and institutional spaces, a “script” made of fabric. Drapery oscillates between abstraction and representation, referencing the history of materials, patterns and cutouts. Drapery also plays on the notion of rehearsal through the “sign” it bears: an “X,” mirroring the white chalk mark found on a black stage or studio floor to indicate the position the actor should take in front of the camera. At the same time, the “X” also operates as a signifier for shifting identities always to be scripted anew. Möller’s use of this mark originates with Constanze Ruhm’s X LOVE SCENES (2007) for which she designed three costumes for the main character Giuliana—herself a split subject, like the curtain, an unstable, shifting identity in a process of permanent rehearsal.


  • Consider the curtain as it spans the length of the gallery’s main windows. What is the function of this work in the exhibition’s overall design? With the exhibition behind the curtain does the gallery’s space become a backstage setting or a scene whose revelation to the audience is perpetually delayed?
  • Think about what Möller’s “X” signifies and the slippages between its status as a graphic mark, a generic, open or shared subject (literally, signed with an “X”) and a place marker.

For more information

Regina Magazine <>

Wendelien van Oldenborgh

Wendelien van Oldenborgh is an artist living in Rotterdam whose artistic practice explores social relations through an investigation into gestures and behaviours in public spaces. She often employs the format of public filming, collaborating with participants in different scenarios, in order to co-produce a script orienting the work towards its final product, often resulting in the form of film or other projections. Van Oldenborgh has presented her work within the frame of several individual exhibitions, including the Lina Bo Bardi: The Didactic Room (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in 2010), and she has participated in important group exhibitions, such as the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). She has recently published the book Well Respected man or a Book of Echoes in collaboration with Binna Choi at the Electric Palm Tree publishing house.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-42No False Echoes, 2008
Video installation, colour, sound, 30 min.
2 free standing acoustic walls with integrated sound,
Wall I: built-in monitor, video projection with subtitles
Wall II: video projection
Dutch and English subtitles
With Salah Edin, Edwin Jurriëns, Wim Noordhoek, Baukje Prins, Joss Wibisono and Lina Campanella

Courtesy of the artist and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam

Is it only in totalitarian regimes that art functions as the last resort to express an opinion in public? Or can art play the same role in so-called democracies where public debate is at times dominated and stifled by voices that take or are granted the seemingly exclusive right to speak? No False Echoes refers to Dutch colonial policies on the first radio connections between the Netherlands and the Netherlands East Indies, in which the Philips broadcasting company for the Dutch Indies (PHOHI) and the transmitter Radio Kootwijk played a role. These policies aimed at preventing any unwanted voices or ideas from entering the colonial broadcasting spectrum, specifically nationalist ideology from Indonesian republicans. The setting is the former main building of Radio Kootwijk, an architectural monument to modernism and progress, yet also clearly a building that is vacant and has lost its function.


  • In her work van Oldenborgh arranges critical discussions of imperialist histories and a (re)pronouncement of anti-imperialist texts within a former colonial site. Consider how this chorus of voices brings the past and present together and how their pronouncements counter the one-way broadcast of the original colonial programming.
  • How Oldenborgh locates the colonial past in the present not only through historical transpositions but also the rehearsal of contemporary culture.

For more information

Jurriëns, Edwin. “‘No False Echoes’: Polyphony in colonial and post-colonial times.” IIAS Newsletter 48 Summer 2008: 20-21. <>

Pethick, Emily. “Wendelien van Oldenborgh: ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’” Afterall 29 (Spring 2012): 56-65 <>

Yoko Ono

Born in Tokyo, Yoko Ono is a multidisciplinary artist, a singer, and an activist, who is known for her work in performance, music, and experimental film. Being an important figure in the New York avant-garde scene of the 60s, she collaborated with numerous artists, such as the musician John cage, the founder of the Fluxus movement Georges Maciunas, and the film director Jonas Mekas. Yoko Ono is considered to be one of the pioneers of both conceptual and performance art, from which her seminal works Cut Piece (1964) and Grapefruit were born (1964). In the past few decades, the work of this artist has been the subject of many retrospective exhibitions, including Yoko Ono: Objects, Films at the Whitney Museum in New York (1989); Y E S YOKO ONO at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2002); and Yoko Ono. Half-a-Wind Show – A Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2014).

img-922114610-0001Grapefruit. A Book of Instructions and Drawings , 1964/2000
Artist book, 14.6 x 14.6 cm

It is through reading Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit. A Book of Instructions and Drawings as a handbook for virtual actions, gestures and movements to be put into practice, that the central goal of the 1960s avant-garde to blur the boundaries between art and daily life comes into view. When Ono suggests, “Draw a line with yourself. Go on drawing until you disappear” (Line Piece III), the drawing first of all appears as a practice to overcome the individual self by cutting the time-space continuum. Ono transfers the idea of the fourth dimension, a significant motif of diagrammatic drawings, onto the repetitive actions and movements of the body that consequently appears as a living drafting machine. The rationalist Archimedean standpoint representative of the “white cube” is transformed and replaced by an ambulant and deterritorializing body. With Ono, the relation between instruction and drawing can be compared with the relation between a script and a performance.


  • If some of Ono’s instructions suggest seemingly impossible ends is the act of reading them then a form contemplative and self-reflexive rehearsal?
  • Consider Ono’s book in relation to the other publications in the exhibition— Scriptings#46, On Kawara’s, Ibghy & Lemmons’s and Hanako Geierhos’s. How do they figure in your experience of the exhibition? How do they chronicle or outline new forms of rehearsals, routines or behaviours in relation to art and day-to-day life? What does the printed page offer that the gallery cannot? Where do they meet or intersect?

For more information

Excerpt from Grapefruit <>

Grapefruit essay, Do-It-Yourself: Group Exhibition Stendhal Gallery, New York, 7 May–10 July, 2009. <>

Falke Pisano

Originally from Amsterdam, Falke Pisano lives and works in Berlin. Her body of works is constituted by a variety of conference-performances, videos, objects, and photocopied publications, which highlight a distinctive writing style. While Pisano’s work focuses largely on text, it also centers a strong concern with the existence and characteristics of physical objects, and abstract physical objects in particular. She has been the focus of numerous solo exhibitions, in such institutions as the Praxes in Berlin (2014), The Showroom in London (2013), and the Ellen de Bruijne Projects in Amsterdam (2007, 2011). Pisano has also participated in many group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale of 2009 and the Manifesta in 2008. Most notably, she has directed performances at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid (2012), at the 5th Berlin Biennale (2008) and at the Lisson Gallery in London (2007).

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-47The value in mathematics, 2015
5 prints mounted on aluminum, each: 43 x 28 cm

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-58Changing perspectives 2, 2015
Wooden sticks tied together, 160 x 160 x 10 cm    

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-62Reading the world with mathematics2015
Table, painted wooden panels and metal legs, 175 x 230 x 1.5 cm

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-08Learning in proximity2015
3 painted wooden sculptures, 42 x 26 x 26 cm; 34 x 68 x 68 cm; 58 x 20.5 x 20.5 cm

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-11The logic of the detail, 2015
Vinyl, 203 x 470 cm

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-64The value in mathematics (script), 2015
Print on Hahnemüle rag paper white, 80 x 80 cm

Courtesy of the artist, Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam and Hollybush Gardens, London

Through the notion of multiple mathematics The value in mathematics asks questions surrounding the relationship between universal and particular, between curricular and cultural responsibility in education, and between globalism and pluralism all through the lens of logic, scientific research and abstraction. The sculptural pieces in the exhibition are composed mainly of wood, metal and fabric, and refer to issues such as “negotiations in exchange,” “learning in proximity,” “reading the world with mathematics,” among others. Commonly regarded as the universal and foundational language of science, mathematics is generally considered a value-free discipline even though this notion has been challenged by critical educators, philosophers, science historians and to some extent within the discipline itself. The value in mathematics speculates on the possibilities of a world with several mathematics, the kind of translations and transactions that would ensue, and the multiple futures that different mathematical universes propose.


  • Pisano’s work diagrams the role mathematics have in shaping the ways that we think about and see the world. Through her sculptures and documents in what ways are mathematics figured as multiple?
  • How do Pisano’s sculptures work as educational devices? How might this education be a political one? How can learning about these alternative forms guide not only a displacement of a Western narrative of mathematics but inform a means to think about plurality more broadly?

For more information

Artist’s website <>

“The Value in Mathematics: A Conversation between Margaret Gaida and Falke Pisano.” Metropolis M, 17 March 2016. Web. <>

Constanze Ruhm

Constanze Ruhm is an artist, filmmaker and author based in Vienna and Berlin. Her artistic practice focuses on relations between cinema, new media and theatrical forms, and investigates issues of female identity and representation. Her productions emerge at the intersection of installation, film, video, web-based projects and publications. From 2004 to 2006 she was Professor of Film and Video at Merz Academy Stuttgart, and since 2006 she has been Professor of Art and Media at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Additionally, from 2008 to 2011, she was Adjunct Professor at the Art Institute Boston of Lesley University. Curatorial projects have included Fate of Alien Modes at Secession 2003, as well as projects and contributions within the haus.0 program at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, and, more recently, the series Putting Rehearsals to the Test (with Sabeth Buchmann) at MUMOK Cinema. She has also been involved in numerous international exhibitions, projects, publications, film festivals and symposia.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-35X Love Scenes, 2007
Video projection, color, sound, 58 min.

Courtesy of the artist

X Love Scenes is part of the series X Characters (2001-2013), a project to re-script the identities of iconic female film characters into new contemporary versions. An urtrope of cinematic narrative provides the mise-en-scène’s starting point: the filmic convention of the love scene, a “primal scene” going back as far as Edison’s famous May Irwin Kiss of 1896. The film restages these scenes as an unresolved, traumatic, repetitive cycle: an actress, a director and a script girl on a film set, the absent male lead replaced by a white chalk mark, an “X” on a black flag that becomes the actor’s stand-in. Basing the actress’s character on Giuliana from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Il deserto rosso (1964), X Love Scenes renders the other side of the lover’s gaze as a view of the production aspect of the cinematographic apparatus, as an imaginary hors-champ, and as a reverse shot of the desires and passions indelibly inscribed in the cinematic convention of the love scene, which in this instance comes to nothing. (Constanze Ruhm)


  • Watch for the various ways the “X” shows up. How does the actors interact with it? How is it discussed? How is it framed in video and in the film in production within the video’s narrative?
  • What is opened up to consideration when the reverse shot, so vital to the filmic construction of the love scene, is made visible? Where do the declarations go when addressed to an “X”? What does the work say about the labour of the female characters in relation to filmic narratives and cinema as a medium?

For more information 

Artist’s website <>

Blümlinger, Christa. “Stratégies de virtualisation de l’image filmique. L’art archivistique (post)féministe de Constanze Ruhm.” Intermédialités 24 (spring 2014). <>

Artist’s talk, Shpilman Institute for Photography, 2011 <>

Klaus Scherübel

Born in Austria in 1968, Klaus Scherübel now lives in Montreal.

Among the exhibitions in which he has taken part are Mallarmé, Das Buch (2001), presented in a number of locales in Europe and North America, UN COUP DE DÉS. Writing Turned Image. An Alphabet of Pensive Language at the Generali Foundation, Austria (2008), Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play, at the Galerie Erna Hécey, Belgium (2008), Learn to Read Art: A History of Printed Matter, at MoMA PS1, United States (2008), Extending Kippenberger’s METRO-Net, in Notre-Dame-des-Bois, Québec (2013), To expose, to show, to demonstrate, to inform, to offer Artistic Practices around 1990, at mumok, Austria (2015), et VOL. 19, at Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien, Austria (2016). His conceptual interventions, using various means and strategies (such as the use of a pseudonym) always redefine the status of the artwork, integrating it into a process in which the artist himself is indissociable.

La répétition (Prototype), VOL. 24, 2016
Intervention in the form of an institutional announcement

Courtesy of the artist

Using a reproduction of one of Edgar Degas’s famous dance rehearsal paintings, aptly titled The Rehearsal (1874), Klaus Scherübel conceives a “calendar object” whose presentation corresponds to the individual timeframes of the three exhibitions at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art and VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine.

While every page of the calendar always displays the exactly same reproduction of the painting, it always refers to a different month, in this case from August to December. Conceptually autonomous in its referentiality to the history of painting, it becomes a functional object as well—it serves as a reflection on the temporality and spatiality of “rehearsal” while at the same time becoming promotional material to announce the three exhibitions. Therefore, La répétition (Prototype) puts the ephemeral yet repetitive character of the genre of “institutional announcements” literally to the test. Since the motive refers to the entangled histories of painting, photography and dance, it moreover clearly addresses the complex relation between fine arts and mass culture. With characteristic features of the calendar (like specification of the year, or distinction between weekdays and weekends) elided, one central issue of the rehearsal—the standardized organization and linkage of labour and lifetime—comes into focus.


  • How the work uses everyday office material to bracket the exhibition’s fixed schedule. How to read Degas’s painting when it is framed within the calendar.
  • How the work operates simultaneously across the three exhibition venues.

For more information

Artist’s website <>

Braun, Reinhard. “Klaus Scherübel. The Artist at Work.” Ciel variable 65 (2004): 27-28. Print.<>

Katarina Zdjelar

Born in 1979 in Belgrade, Serbia, Katarina Zdjelar lives and works in Rotterdam. Her artistic approach consists of producing videos, sound works, and book projects, and to create different platforms for speculation, construction, and exchange of knowledge. Her work explores the notions of identity, authority, and community, while focusing on individuals who face the coexistence of different languages and who are themselves “performed” through the practice, remembering, and the reinvention of one’s self. Recently, her solo exhibitions have consisted of the project Of More than One Voice, at the Museum of Contemporary Art ARTIUM in Spain (2013); Towards a Further Word, at the Kunstverein Bielefeld, Germany (2014); Stepping In-Out, at the Center for Contemporary Art Celje, Slovenia (2011); and the project But if you take my voice what will be left to me? at the Serbian Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009.

2016-09-06-ellen_rehearsals-54The Perfect Sound2009
Video, color, sound, 14 min. 30 sec.

Courtesy of the artist

In The Perfect Sound we watch a migrant language student follow the lessons of a native English teacher in order to mitigate his “foreign” accent. Staging the voice as a medium that can both actively and passively articulate ruling techniques of social in- and exclusion, The Perfect Sound operates as an example of the “making of” a normative identities. The work displays an ambivalent position in the comparison it suggests between the student and coach’s interactions and the speech exercises that can be found in the theatre. Zdjelar’s work appears to adopt the vantage of objective observation and stages the integration of social and aesthetic procedures as a mimetic process that transforms its subject by way of its (re-)production and (re-)presentation. Following Walter Benjamin’s theory of mimesis, The Perfect Sound points to possibilities beyond hierarchical assimilation by intensifying the inevitable distortion generated by normative acts of imitation.


  • Zdjelar focuses on immigration and how language, specifically accents, can qualify or disqualify membership. How is the disciplining of language used to satisfy standards of normative citizenship?
  • At what point does acting and rehearsal step into the realm of politics?

For more information

Artist’s website <>

Bobin, Virginie. “In the Fabric of the Voice: A Polyphonic Conversation.” Manifesta Journal 17 (February 2014): 17-27. Print. <>



Scripts and scripting

How might an exhibition be conceived as a rehearsal? Can an exhibition stay within an “in-the-making” process rather than claim to be an account or the end result of “the-making-of”? And how can it assemble works that aspire to similar open-ended strategies? How can an exhibition continually rethink the propositions and ideas it puts forward and question its own formal makeup in the process? And what is at stake in inviting gallery visitors to join in on this work?

These are some of the key questions guiding the curators of Putting Rehearsals to the Test. Thinking the curatorial as an act always being worked on they turn to Jean-Luc Godard and his video Scénario du film Passion (1982), isolating the idea of “voir le scenario” (“seeing the screenplay”) as a model for the exhibition. Seated in his video-editing suite Godard narrates the intellectual and political positions and maneuvers behind the production of his film Passion (1982). This retrospective doubling adjusts our understanding of the original film, itself the chronicle of a ceaseless film shoot, so that it no longer reads as an end product. Thinking aloud about his intentions, Godard casts his own film as a screenplay to be read through images, as a source to follow, interrupt and improvise upon. Instead of casting viewers as the passive receivers of images, Godard seeks active viewers ready to find themselves between the images.

The works in this exhibition demonstrate how the written form of language is just one way that scripts take form. Considered individually and in relation to each other these works ask us to look for and reexamine the scripts governing our behaviours, thoughts and relations. How might these rules be read and acted upon differently?

  • When viewing the works consider where the script is located and what its medium might be.
  • Is the script something to be activated? Or is the script itself something to be observed and scrutinized? Is it a frame of mind, a habit of thought or is it embodied?
  • How might a retrospective position recast historical events as a drama where its rehearsal opens up alternative or previously unspoken histories?
  • How might rehearsals be a form of planning? In that they leave room for variation and reinterpretation of the constituent elements of a work, changes that readjust and defer a final statement or action.
Postdramatic Theatre

For the curators, the postdramatic serves as a means to consider how a range of art practices might engage with modes of scripting, casting and staging as both aesthetic and political actions, though not always towards ends.

Coined by German theatre researcher Hans-Thies Lehmann in 1999, the postdramatic concerns developments and permutations of the dramatic form in contemporary theatre since the 1960s. If the traditional model of drama is the presentation of a contained narrative, the prefix “post” is applied to signal the ways that theatrical forms in the late-twentieth century reconfigured and opened up mimetic and representational modes of performance and, along with this, the status of passive spectatorship. In these instances the actor’s role shifts from the presentation of a fictive figure toward the questioning and revelation of embodied experience. Accordingly, when the boundaries between the stage and the audience loosen, spectatorship becomes a form of witnessing, leaving the viewer to negotiate their willingness to sustain a narrative or explore its suspension. By turning to the quotidian and asking for self-reflection from the audience, postdramatic theatre aims to circumnavigate spectacle culture, coordinating “not a heightening but a deepening of a condition, a situation” (Lehmann 181). This can be viewed as a response to a range of sociopolitical realities, notably the rise of a highly mediatized culture and the expansive entry of labour into everyday life under neoliberal capital. Accordingly, the postdramatic attempts an ethical project where the time and space of the performance offer the means to consider a provisional collectivity between audience and performer, spurring what Lehmann terms “aesthetics of responsibility (or response-ability)” (Lehmann 185). The postdramatic investigates the circumstance of theatre (and life) without drama and neat narrative closure. As a form of theatre it puts aside the aim to fully represent any subject, displacing language as the principal form of meaning making and abandoning narrative and the false certainty of a resolvable whole.

  • Consider how these works offer means to identify rehearsals not only across mediums (painting, sculpture, video) but also in day-to-day life.
  • Who are the players or actors in this exhibition?
  • In what ways might concentrating on rehearsals help us probe the make-up of a film? If traditional film, compared to theatre, edits together numerous takes toward some form of narrative, can we not view narrative film as a conglomeration of rehearsals?
  • In what ways do the works in the exhibition “cast” the viewer? Moreover, how does the exhibition operate as a mise-en-scene and how do you find yourself navigating it?

Judith Butler’s 1988 article “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution” opens with the famous Simone de Beauvoir quote “one is not born, but, rather, becomes a woman.” Butler argues that gender holds no stability as a marker of identity or agency. Instead, gender is an identity constituted in time through a stylized repetition of acts. Gender must, then, be considered as the way in which bodily gestures “constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self” (Butler 519).

This model of “embodiment” requires action, dramatization and reproduction in order to create a “style” of being. Gender is then performative. Used in this way performative signifies both “dramatic” and “non-referential” actions and utterances (Butler 522). Moreover, “stylized” norms attempt to govern the division of “male” and “female” genders (Butler 526).

Similarly, anthropologist Victor Turner suggests that social actions require some form of repeated performance that is simultaneously a re-enactment and a re-experiencing of pre-established social norms.

  • In what ways are normative bodies and identities moulded by rehearsals and scripting?
  • How might an understanding of social and political “stylization” of identity be used to undo or break away from assigned roles?
Gesture and inflection

Where Lehmann writes of a world without narrative resolve, theorist Georgio Agamben muses on a century desperate to hold on to the naturalness and ease in gesture. In his short text, Notes on Gesture, Agamben considers how a life governed by capitalism from its industrial stage to its current manifestation is submitted to the study, pathologization and regulation of automatic and involuntary movement. Agamben sees in the history of film and photography attempts to both seize and reanimate gesture, providing the example of Muybridge’s sequential photographic studies of the body’s movement.

For Agamben gestures are not productive movements. They are not means to an end. They do not bring resolution to an action by advancing it toward closure or a final aesthetic object. Rather, gestures emerge at the limit of language in order to make visible the body’s immersion in and endurance of language. Thus, what gestures reveal is how the corporal body reacts to the limits of language. Through its gestures the body can be understood as a form of media, a support that sustains the rules of language and makes up for its shortcomings. For Agamben, the body’s gesturality, in its improvisation and relation to the unspeakable, exhibits the possibility of pure means, providing glimpses at an ethical and political project that language and the existing orders continually attempt to speak over.

Consider how gesture is studied or incited in the exhibition.

  • How do gestures accompany lapses in or retellings of histories and memories?
  • If returning to rehearsals forestalls the final performance, how might involuntary or improvised gestures interrupt and bring further variation to the script or scenario?
  • Are there works or elements to the exhibition layout that encourage certain gestures or improvisations in your own movements?
  • If gestures are understood to be extra-communicative elements at the limits of language in what ways can they also be recruited into forms of regulative training and control?