Jacob Scholz


response folgt

response folgt

What is it?                                                         

A Performative Collection is a dynamic collection or archive of information, experiences, memories or practices as well as their mediated transmission.

In the context of academic and art-based research, the collection as a kind of living archive is considered as a methodological tool that not only preserves or stores knowledge, but also produces knowledge. What is often called for in approaches of the humanities around critical archiving is a differentiation between archives and collections. In this context, collections are described as more open subjective compilations, while archives, on the other hand, are subject to stricter, more systematic recording under conventional classification criteria (Lorey 2014: 101). The archive is an institution of knowledge production with practices of securing evidence; it stores and transfers knowledge on different media formats (see Wolfenberger 2015).

In its scientific institutionalisation in museums or libraries, the collection is above all a specific place for the selection and systematisation of information. Following Jacques Derrida, the (contemporary) critique of the archive (Derrida 1996) concentrates on the fact that it is not providing information without formatting it and without conditioning the practice of actualisation. A performative approach can focus on this aspect and explore it further: In the frame of PABR projects, the process of knowledge production can be based on practices of creating and framing a Performative Collection with its multi-layered processes of collecting and compiling information, for instance through interviews, recordings, and (re)enactments. Who is recording what and who is in charge of deciding what is deemed appropriate to be stored? At the same time, the focus is on developing performative formats that enable different ways of using the collection, so that the collected material can be (re)arranged, combined, and enacted by its users. The processes of both compiling and providing data and materials are central moments of knowledge production, for the researchers who collect as well as the users who combine the collected material in its reception. When the Performative Collection is performed by actors or performers as a carrier of meaning, the formatting character is further enhanced. Whose body is providing the information? What information is added when the collection is performed?

The Performative Collection is not a static container, but a living structure. It might employ diverse forms of performative presentations such as media installations, as in Stefanie Lorey’s Museum of Moments (2014), or Margarita Tsomou’s, Waste of History – A Studio Visit (2013). It can also be in action in (virtual or real) public space as in Katharina Kellerman’s How to Hear the Invisible (2016) or Call to Listen (2017).

What is researched?

With this approach to art-based research, the performativity of archives and collections is highlighted. Accordingly, the practice of the Performative Collection is employed primarily in dance, theatre and performance art. Performative Collections focus on the collection of materials that are based on embodied experiences and are therefore difficult to store. Strategies of collecting need to be researched that are specific to these kinds of experiences. The mediation and transfer of such experiences into diverse media installations or performance formats constitute further research aspects of this format (Lorey 2014).

An example of such a bodily experience in a Performative Collection can be found in Winks of Time, where Lorey investigated the relationship between individual experiences, the perception of one’s body, and biological age. The project was initially concerned with the collection of knowledge, experiences or even conceptual ideas of age and life experiences in the form of language, collected as conversations or interviews. However, Lorey’s focus changed in the processes of selecting and organising statements towards a juxtaposition between sound and image in a chance operation for Winks of Time, a preliminary output of her research project. The new connections between the individual elements established new links within the Performative Collection. In Lorey’s final version, Museum of Moments (2014), the dynamic processes of combining the voices with oversized portraits are handed over to the audience through the development of a technological organising structure, which is based on an algorithm that allows the audience’s eye movements to rearrange the interviews and link them with an image. To design collection and combination processes as performative acts is a main goal of the Performative Collection as a research format.

Artistic means

Collecting and arranging are, hence, understood as artistic practices. A first step is the choice of topic: The collection in artistic and art-based research processes usually engages with subjective, everyday or political issues that are not dealt with in conventional collections.

A main element of the Performative Collection is its set-up and its framing: What is archived or collected by whom and how? What are the methods of searching material, of recording, arranging, and actualising? How can the archive be searched? How can it be used?

The basis of many Performative Collections are interviews, which are recorded in qualitative research processes, following a specific research design of the project. However, the material is not arranged according to scientific taxonomies, but rather in relation to subjective and/or collectively developed categories. The invention of rules or classifications plays a central role in these processes. It is precisely by shifting and breaking through habitual classification criteria that other perspectives can be expanded, new connections established, new insights into the initial situation or the object of research gained.1 In doing so, it is not important to follow an initial structure, but rather to engage with diverse, complex, and sometimes contradictory compiling procedures and to allow multiple outcomes.

The inclusion of the interview partners as co-researchers, as in a collective development of organising criteria for the materials, offers the possibility of collective participation within the framework of participatory knowledge generation. Katharina Kellermann, for example, involved her interview partners in several workshops and listening sessions in the analysis and sequencing of the collected sounds in Call to Listen.

Although her method is oriented towards the qualitative sciences, in the following steps the developed material is  transferred into the Performative Collection through artistic methods of associative selection and musical composition. Accordingly, the development of organising principles through methods of compilation and composition might have participatory dimensions or it might be set up by one researcher. If the researcher intends for this process to be explicitly participatory, she has to devise it in a way that makes it accessible and transparent.

How to document a Performative Collection? Obviously, the archive/the collection in itself can serve as documentation. Beyond this, there should however be a concept for how users can document their enactment of the archive/collection.

Potentials, problems and outcomes

The format Performative Collection as an academic art-based method of knowledge generation stands precisely for an open, subjective, searching, processual and changing confrontation with established taxonomies. Materials are newly collected in an associative way and flow into the Performative Collection as experience. This aspect poses the problem that the underlying classification criteria of the archive are not necessarily comprehensible. Particularly when a collective presentation format is involved, the distinction between the archive and other forms of collections cannot always be drawn sharply.

Outcomes can include media installations of video interviews or sound compositions. Performative Collections that move around in space are constantly generating new constellations. In a broader sense, the Performative Collection explores discourses on preserving and publishing media artefacts as an artistic as well as a curatorial practice (Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst 2013).

Through the performative compilation of different voices and materials, Performative Collections repeatedly generate new constellations of memory that simultaneously challenge and question the classification criteria of a conventional conception of the archive. However, the head researcher still holds a strong position in the decision-making between the phases of collecting, formatting and arranging material. This hidden form of control needs to be eluded by insisting on the possibilities for the user to rearrange materials. This is not an add-on but a condition of this format.

Kathrin Wildner, Kerstin Evert, Sebastian Matthias


response by Stefanie Lorey

response by Katharine Kellermann (Pelosi)


1 This is reminiscent of a comment by the ethnologist Claude Levi-Strauss, who, when asked by Didier Eribon about his collection of field notes and index cards, said that these cards, covered in writing containing all kinds of information about his field research experiences – fleeting ideas, notes from readings, quotations, observations – are a central element of his knowledge production. When he was stuck in his thinking or wanted to understand something, he took a deck of cards and laid them out as in a game of solitaire. The continuous and random combinations helped him to reconstruct his memory and gave him a new view on the matter (Lévi-Strauss/Eribon 1988: 5–6)


Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst (eds) (2013): Living Archive: Archivarbeit als künstlerische und kuratorische Praxis der Gegenwart. Berlin: b_books.

Derrida, Jacques (1996):  Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude/Eribon, Didier (1988): De près et de loin. Paris: O. Jacob.

Lorey, Stefanie (2014): “Performative Sammlungen. Sammeln und Ordnen als künstlerische  Verfahrensweise – eine Begriffsbestimmung”, in: Burri, Regula V./Evert, Kerstin/Peters, Sibylle/Pilkington, Esther/Ziemer, Gesa (eds): Versammlung und Teilhabe. Urbane Öffentlichkeiten und performative Künste. Bielefeld: transcript, pp. 97–112.

Wolfenberger, Rolf (2015): “Archiv”, in: Badura, Jens/Dubach, Selma/Haarmann, Anke/Mersch, Dieter/Rey, Anton/Schenker, Christoph/Toro Perez, German (eds): Künstlerische Forschung. Ein Handbuch. Zürich: Diaphanes, pp. 285–288.

Works / Projects

Kellermann (Pelosi), Katharina, How To Hear the Invisible, 2016, Hamburg.

Kellermann (Pelosi), Katharina, Call to Listen, 2017, Hamburg.

Lorey, Stefanie, Winks of Time, 2013, Hamburg.

Lorey, Stefanie, Museum of Moments, 2014, Hamburg.

Tsomou, Margarita, Waste of History – A Studio Visit, 2013, Hamburg


Participatory Art Based Research and Artistic Research that Participates

Research format Creating a Media Device, response by Sylvi Kretzschmar

Megaphones have a pistol grip. The speaker uses it to target people and spaces, to address the speech in aligned acoustics. You need to pull a trigger while you are talking in order to “shoot” an oration. The megaphone as an object might be an icon/earcon of political resistance, protest and civil rights movements, but at the same time it is an apparatus of command and instruction, an instrument or gadget made to give orders and to fill the air with sounds of warnings and directives. Against this background, it may sound unlikely, but the invention and experimental testing of the Megaphone Choir as a research process of Creating a Media Device arose from the following question:

What could a political speech be like that is involved in the political process, emerging from it, instead of initiating it, directing or controlling it?

The term ‘PA’ (Public Address) refers to sound systems consisting of amplifiers, loudspeakers and microphones. According to my thesis, public address systems are assembly methods and assembly techniques. Media devices of voice enhancement are entities that choreograph physical operations of an assembly. Public address systems are involved in determining not only what or who is represented within the assembly but also for what or whom the assembly stands (what the gathering as such represents for an audience outside of the assembly). In my research, I investigate how public address systems influence the performance of an assembly and its power to act. In this context, I use the term ‘public address’ system not only for sound technology such as loudspeaker systems or megaphones but also for body techniques (Mauss 2010: 199-220), the public (raised) voice as a medium (Göttert, 1998), rhetorical conventions, fashions or schools, choral speaking (for example, slogans chanted in demonstrations or the Human Mic used in the Occupy Wall Street movement [Kretzschmar 2014]), as well as for acoustically conceived architectures and formations of assemblies. Amplification* (of voices) is not only the central concept of my media history research on public address systems. I would also describe the way in which my art-based research was involved in the political disputes surrounding the so-called ‘Esso Houses’ in the district of St. Pauli (Hamburg), which is severely affected by gentrification, as a form of amplification.

*amplification: multiplication, potentiation, reinforcement, recruitment, backup, boost, gain, enhancement, strengthener, intensification.

An all-female choir “armed” with megaphones speaks and sings interview-statements of residents, tenants and neighbours of the Esso Houses, located on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn. Some of the interviewees were people already fighting against their impending displacement (for example as members of the Initiative Esso Häuser1). Others would never have spoken in front of a larger audience. The Megaphone Choir is, in the literal sense, amplification and reinforcement of these voices. It assembles acoustically the knowledge of the interviewees as citizen experts (Alltagsexpert*innen) of their district. As a public address system specifically invented for this context, the Megaphone Choir operates in a mode of radical advocacy for absent speakers. Statements of the interviewees are repeated and reproduced in a spatial and musical composition on site. The members of the Megaphone Choir played a decisive role in the invention, testing and modification of this public address system. As a heterogeneous alliance of women, they brought different agendas and motivations (for example, their concern as residents or neighbours of the houses, their political engagement in Hamburg’s Recht auf Stadt2 movement) as well as a diverse artistic expertise (some were professional dancers, performers or choreographers while others had experience performing in choirs) into a rehearsal process that enabled a transdisciplinary research process together with artists and activists. The creation process of the Megaphone Choir as a specific media device for strengthening the protest against gentrification in St. Pauli consisted of two distinguishable research phases: development/invention and experimental testing/modification. In the following, I would like to specify that both phases cannot solely be described as a designed participation within an artistic research process. This process of Creating a Media Device not only involves citizen experts and non-academic methods of knowledge production. It is also artistic research that participates. Knowledge is decisively produced at points where the research project and the artistic work are able to participate in a process they neither initiate nor conduct or control.

1. Development Phase

The invention of the Megaphone Choir is based on an emancipatory workshop practice on public speech/ political speech/speaking in political assemblies, which I shared with various activist groups 3 in Hamburg (including initiatives from Hamburg’s Recht auf Stadt network). My involvement in these workshops started in 2010 prior to the existence of the research programme Assembly and Participation and was further developed in 2012-2015 (in a synergetic interaction with my research in the PhD programme).

Political groups that collectively develop their ideas, intentions, and formal languages (i.e. hierarchy-critical, grassroots-democratic, and most of them working with consensus-based decision-making processes) were confronted with the fact that it always seemed to be the same few people who publicly „raised“ their voices and represented the groups’ political stance to the outside world. The external impact thus contradicted the self-image and practice of the respective initiatives. The aim to change that was the common starting point of the workshops. The participants had their own concerns and, in most cases, concrete upcoming projects such as public events, meetings or demonstrations. The workshops I4 offered were specifically intended to prepare speeches for these planned assemblies and events. I refer to this research with the workshop participants as citizen experts for fear of public appearance and speech (and its overcoming!) as joint “discomfort research” (Unbehagenforschung). It initiated and informed my media-historical research on public address systems.

The Megaphone Choir is clearly aware of the hesitation and struggle for public speech and fear to address a large audience. In radical non-eloquence this specific public address system transforms stuttering, misspeaking and searching for the right words from a weakness into a (musical, sonic and poetic) strength.

In the workshops we experimented with the interplay of amplification in the sound-technical sense and as mutual reinforcement in the assembled appearance of speakers (for example through choreographed forms of speaking while walking with a microphone circling from person to person during the Euromayday parade in 2012). Experiments carried out in the workshops tested adaptations of the Human Mic and have decisively shaped the development of the Megaphone Choir as a media device.

The creation of the Megaphone Choir is based on knowledge generated in these workshops, which were not designed to make people participate in my research or artwork. Rather, my research process took part in these workshops.

2. Phase of testing

The phase of testing the Megaphone Choir and its performative strategies and potentials took place in the form of performances in urban space and on theatre stages (see PABR-Format Testing in Performance).

The layering of female voices amplified by megaphones produces a specific and never-heard sound that generates resonances of the surrounding buildings, evoking distant and close echo effects. This specific sound and its associated mode of choreography of the movable PA system (consisting of 12 to 14 women with megaphones) were developed in performances that practiced a test of the media device Megaphone Choir and the participation in an existing protest movement at the same time. The Megaphone Choir performed at press conferences, gatherings, activities and rallies of the “Esso-Houses-we-are-not-an-object initiative” (Initiative-Esso-Häuser-Wir-sind-kein-Objekt). Founded in 2011, the initiative has been working to preserve affordable residential and commercial space in St. Pauli. Tenants struggled for years to keep their flats, shops and nightclubs. They were supported by the Recht auf Stadt network Hamburg, by the fan base of the football club FC St.Pauli, by neighbourhood initiatives like SOS St.Pauli and by the GWA St. Pauli. The Megaphone Choir initiated performance formats that made the audience co-researchers in experimenting with choreographies of common listening. The assembled were not only moved by the choir of 12 women with megaphones, but also behaved according to various “roles” assigned to them performatively (as theatre audience, protesters, participants in a funeral service or amplifiers of the political content of a public assembly). This benefited not only my research on public address systems but also the protest movement, which was strengthened and shaped by the Megaphone Choir performances over years.


The potential of PABR lies in the expertise of performing arts and live art to shape relationships between research (as research in/for society) and the public. In my experience, this creates a fundamental shift in the participatory potential of such research processes, which not only enable and shape participation, but also participate in social developments and processes themselves (see also formats such as Intervention into the Real).

Addendum: Improbable Assembly/Phantom Speech

As a performative gathering practice, the Megaphone Choir assembles voices and statements of people who might have never met each other. It transports past acts of speech into a presence of the assembly and from another place (or other places) to the assembly space as a concrete auditorium. In the Megaphone Choir performance Echo Houses Echo – A Requiem, an improbable assembly is created by amplifying voices of a vanished place.

Sylvi Kretzschmar/ Megaphone Choir: ESSO HOUSES ECHO

Video documentation by Svenja Baumgardt (about 25 min, engl. subtitles):


trailer (5min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BPIWDHIFgk


1 http://www.initiative-esso-haeuser.de

2 Recht auf Stadt is a Hamburg-based network founded in 2009, which today includes around 40 initiatives and        alliances that “stand for affordable housing, non-commercial spaces, socialisation of property, a new democratic urban planning, and the preservation of public greens; for the right to the city for all inhabitants – with or without papers.” (http://www.rechtaufstadt.net, accessed 10 July 2020).

3 The participants were members of Initiative Esso Häuser, Gängeviertel Hamburg, members of the Initiative Lux und Konsorten, the preparatory groups of the Hamburg Euromayday parades 2012 and 2013, the Medi-Büro Hamburg as well as the w3- werkstatt für internationale kultur und politik e.v., the activist group nine to five and others.

4 Some workshops I designed together with Petra Barz. She is active in the fields of adult education and moderation and provides trainings with a focus on discrimination, diversity and participation. From my experience as a performance artist and musician, I imparted voice training, techniques for preparing content for free speech in front of an audience, and innovative performative strategies of public speech. The workshops were conceived as joint research, in which the participants (and I) learned from each other.



Göttert, Karl-Heinz (1998): Geschichte der Stimme. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.

Göttert, Karl-Heinz (2000): „Zur Medialität der Stimme und ihrem historischen Wandel“, in: Kopperschmidt, Josef (Ed.): Rhetorische Anthropologie, München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, pp. 153-170.

Kretzschmar, Sylvi (2014): „VERSTÄRKUNG – Public Address Systems als Choreografien politischer Versammlungen“, in: Burri, Regula Valerié/Evert, Kerstin/Peters, Sybille/Pilkington, Esther/Ziemer, Gesa (eds): Versammlung und Teilhabe. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, pp. 143-171.

Kretzschmar, Sylvi (2015): „VOR ORT LAUTSPRECHEN. Choreografien der Verstärkung im urbanen Raum“, in Bäcker, Marianne/Schütte, Mechthild (eds.) Tanz Raum Urbanität. Leipzig: Henschel Verlag, pp. 197-208.

Kretzschmar, Sylvi/Wildner, Kathrin (2016): „Amplification and Assembly“, in Schäfer, Martin Jörg/ Tsianos, Vassilis S. (eds.) The Art of Being Many. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, pp. 169-181.

LaBelle, Brandon (2010): Sounds as Hinge From Esemplacticism: Truth is a Compromise. Berlin: TAG/Club Transmediale (Exhibition catalogue).

Mauss, Marcel (2010): „Die Techniken des Körpers. Vortrag vor der Societé de Psycholgie 1934“, in: Mauss, Marcel (ed.) Soziologie und Anthropologie. Bd. 2: Gabentausch – Todesvorstellung – Körpertechniken. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 199-220.

What is it?

The research format Creating a Media Device focuses on developing a technological operation or media object as well as testing (see also Testing in Performance) it through practice and performance. The format is rooted in media theory and combines technological and performative experimentation. Modern and postmodern media theory teaches that instead of being tools for transporting content or supporting communication, media not only shape but create content and in fact whole modes of communication (McLuhan 1964). By appearing to merely transport the content provided, media disguise this process of creation. However, the fact that media technology forms and changes practices can also be seen as a chance for artistic experimentation (for example in the works that LIGNA has produced since 1997, such as Secret Radio, 2014) This art-based experimentation combines historical research, technological development and performative practice. The media device or tool itself transmits, translates or amplifies information as it moves from one field, context or public to another, and thereby takes an active part in the emergence of information, field and public. It is understood as the material basis for physical operations of communication, perception and cognition (Krämer/Bredekamp 2003: 18). Other than a method or procedure, the media device or tool is an entity in itself and as such part of technical history. The research set-up implies that newly developed devices create new forms of representation, interaction and experience and, therefore, insights, also regarding the intrinsic relation between knowledge, media and practice (Gethmann/Hauser 2009: 10). At the same time, the research enquires into the social field that is targeted. As the device needs to be applied to a specific situation for testing, the interrelation between device, practice and field becomes productive. Thus, a media device or tool can be connected to research questions such as: What could a political speech be like that is involved in the political process, emerging from it, instead of initiating it, directing or controlling it? (Kretzschmar, AMPLIFICATION! A Collective Invocation, 2013). Or, in an art context: How can a collection be presented and experienced as a performance? (Lorey, Museum of Moments, 2014 [Lorey 2017])

What is researched?

All known media tools can be at the centre of this format – such as, for example, PA systems or video channels (City_Neighbourhood_Videos_II [Grießbach 2017]), or digital gaming environments, but also older media such as paper. In order to develop these Media Devices further, historical research is required as well as an analysis of the field targeted with the tool. Actors in the field should be invited to participate in developing the analysis. Sylvi Kretzschmar, for example, researched the media history of public address systems as well as the anti-gentrification movement in St. Pauli in 2013, connecting with different members of that movement. She then developed a ‘Megaphone Choir’ (AMPLIFICATION! A Collective Invocation, 2013), a new technology and practice of social amplification focusing on the performativity of the megaphone. The FUNDUS THEATER/Theatre of Research analysed the history of apparatuses measuring well-being and founded the Society for the Invention of Measuring Procedures (2012). The research team from the theatre worked together with children from local schools in order to co-create measuring tools and procedures which could potentially counteract the given performances of measuring in the context of schools and education as well as their respective power relations.

In trying to develop the device in question, this research format generates knowledge about the tool and its use, but also about the field. Testing the device combines both of these aspects and puts them in a performative feedback loop, in which the device and the field of application both change. Furthermore, creating a new device offers an alternative basis to reflect on other types of media and their performativity.

The main researchers in this format are those who take part in all aspects of knowledge production: field research, historical research, technological research. Co-researchers are often technicians and actors from within the social field, who take an active part in developing and testing the new tools and practices, as well as creating content (as in Society for the Invention of Measuring Procedures). A crucial group of participants are actors such as, for example, tenants (as in AMPLIFICATION! A Collective Invocation) or senior citizens (as in Museum of Moments), whose voices, actions and stories are being transmitted, amplified, measured and collected. Another group of participants are the audiences and publics that experience the tool as performance, like the visitors of Stefanie Lorey’s collection, or fellow protestors at a political demonstration witnessing the Megaphone Choir.

Artistic means

Each media device has a history that might be related to former artistic uses, and is often actually based on historical art-based research, as for example Kretzschmar shows in her analysis of Athanasius Kircher’s research on amplification (Kretzschmar forthcoming). To start the research process, researchers need to compile a general historical corpus of given designs or inventions and an account of related technological operations and performative practices.

It is crucial to link the research to technical and technological expertise in order to actually work on the tool as an apparatus. Lorey, for example, collaborated with engineers from the technical departments of the HafenCity University in order to incorporate their knowledge of indoor navigation systems into her interactive video display.

It can also be argued that the transdisciplinary loop between the technological development, the use of the tool in performative practice and the feedback from actors has to be organised and facilitated using artistic expertise. Hence, the research set-up requires artistic experience in using media devices innovatively within the context of artworks and artistic experience in facilitating participatory performance events. Artists/researchers lead a process in which the device is tuned, restructured, and designed according to aesthetical and practical challenges. This can happen through a series (see also Laboratory Series) of prototypes or through many different uses that each shape the device just a little. Does the device support performative practice as it was intended? Does it produce something else? How does the perception of the media content differ between audiences on the one hand and participants on the other hand? Using the device for various audiences or participants or social fields can strengthen the knowledge and robustness of the device and its impact.

Potentials, problems and outcomes

Once the device is developed and tested in performance (see Testing in Performance), it can become a tool to be transported into a variety of other fields for further observation and evaluation. Often, the performative practice that has been developed in relation to the tool will travel from one context to another. As the device might be linked to an individual artistic position, further uses or alternative devices developed by other artists can be compared, contextualising the research within art history and performance studies. Lorey, for example, developed a research design to investigate performative collections (see also Performative Collections). A collection of memories contributed by senior citizens and presented with a new interactive technology for video installations is her own example of the genre in question that is then confronted with other examples by different artists (Lorey 2017). This positions the format also within “research for art” (Borgdorf 2007), as the device can be seen as a new tool for further artistic production not only by the researcher, but by other artists as well.

In this format the question how the research process and its outcomes should be documented is often partially answered through the tools and practices themselves, which necessarily include certain procedures of recording, formatting and archiving.

The creation and performative testing of media devices is not a new invention, but a found practice: It seems that this specific kind of participatory art-based research has existed throughout the history of media toolmaking and design in various ways, often bringing together artists, technicians, designers and publics in innovative constellations (Peters 2011: 79, and 83).

Sebastian Matthias, Kathrin Wildner, Sibylle Peters


response by Sylvi Kretzschmar

response by Dorothea Grießbach


Borgdorff, Henk (2007): “The debate on research in the arts”, in: Dutch Journal of Music Theory 12/1, pp. 1–17.

Gethmann, Daniel /Hauser, Susanne (2009): “Einleitung”, in: Gethmann, Daniel /Hauser, Susanne (eds): Kulturtechnik Entwerfen. Praktiken, Konzepte und Medien in Architektur und Design Science. Bielefeld: transcript, pp. 9–16.

Grießbach, Dorothea (2017): “Mein Channel – meine Chance? Jugendliche You-Tube Akteure und ihre Videopraktiken aus einem lokalen Hamburger Kontext”, in: Holfelder, Ute/Schönberger, Klaus (Hg.): Bewegtbilder und Alltagskultur(en.) Klagenfurter Beiträge zur Visuellen Kultur. Band 6. Köln: Herbert von Halem Verlag, pp. 250–262.

Krämer, Sybille/ Bredekamp, Horst (2003) “Kultur, Technik, Kulturtechnik: Wider die Diskursivierung der Kultur”, in: Krämer, Sybille/Bredekamp, Horst (eds): Bild, Schrift, Zahl. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, pp. 11–23.

Kretzschmar, Sylvi (Forthcoming): Unpublished PhD thesis.

Lorey, Stefanie (2014): “Performative Sammlungen. Sammeln und Ordnen als künstlerische  Verfahrensweise – eine Begriffsbestimmung”, in: Burri, Regula V./Evert, Kerstin/Peters, Sibylle/Pilkington, Esther/Ziemer, Gesa (eds): Versammlung und Teilhabe: Urbane Öffentlichkeiten und performative Künste. Bielefeld: transcript, pp. 97–112.

Lorey, Stefanie (2017) Performative Sammlungen. Eine Begriffsbestimmung. PhD thesis. HafenCity University.

Marshall McLuhan (1964): Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Peters, Sibylle (2011): Der Vortrag als Performance. Bielefeld: transcript.

Works / Projects

Grießbach, Dorothea, City_Neigborhood_Videos, 2013, Hamburg.

LIGNA, Secret Radio, 2014, Sofia (Bulgaria). http://www.ligna.org/2014/05/secret-radio/ or for full body of work, http://www.ligna.org.

Lorey, Stefanie, Museum of Moments, 2014, Hamburg.

Kretzschmar, Sylvi, AMPLIFICATION! A Collective Invocation, 2013, Hamburg.

Theatre of Research, Society for the Invention of Measuring Procedures, 2012, Hamburg.

response folgt

What is it?

A One-on-One Encounter as a format of Participatory Art Based Research connects two people in an exclusive constellation, in which they talk to each other or act together and – by doing so – exchange and produce knowledge. Thus, this format is located at the interface between private and public and may contain confidential moments and information that should be handled with care by the researcher and all people involved. Therefore, the research setting has to take into consideration how to deal with this issue of privacy and the conspiratorial atmosphere that may result from it.

In the postgraduate programmes Assemblies and Participation (2012-2014) and Performing Citizenship (2015-2017), several One-on-One Encounters were developed within various research projects to investigate forms of action-based and activist knowledge in very different contexts and ways, such as Face-to-Face with the Many – Action with Video Calls by Margarita Tsomou (2014), The School of Girls II – A Citizens‘ Encounter by Maike Gunsilius (2017), or Moritz Frischkorn’ s On Logistics and Choreography (2017).

Staging a One-on-One Encounter for Participatory Art Based Research provides two different roles for the researcher: She can be a constant part of the one-on-one constellation and talk to or act with different other experts or participants consecutively. Another possibility is that the researcher curates and hosts a situation of different One-on-One Encounters. Curating these encounters means asking: Who meets whom? How are the people addressed who participate in the encounters? What roles do they enact within their encounter? What relation between participants does the curation suggest or predict? And how does the One-on-One Encounter finally happen? What outcomes does it have? To document these fragile encounters can be challenging for the researcher. Especially in the case of the curated version of a One-on-One Encounter the researcher has to ask herself what potential a certain match provides, how the exchange or the production of knowledge can be encouraged within the encounter, and how it can be documented. Thus, the design of the research setting and its staging are important: How narrowly can a framework be set? Is it even possible to stage the encounter and the sharing or production of knowledge in public or should it remain private? How can it be learnt if the two people involved have adhered to the setting or deliberately undermined it? Or might it be precisely the intention of the researcher to provoke participants to sabotage the frame? In any case, the possibility of losing control is a parameter of the format.

What is researched?

This research format aims at personal exchange in an intimate way. At the same time, it works with and around moments that produce knowledge in an exclusive constellation: Within this format, the researcher might aim at creating a situation that allows for the exchange and production of informal, insecure knowledge. In particular, knowledge that might be unproven and precarious can be exchanged and tested in this constellation. Whether the One-on-One Encounter frames a conversation or a space for acting together, cognitive as well as embodied knowledge can be verbalized and/or experienced.

Within a One-on-One Encounter, two people are connected in a direct or online face-to-face situation. They might both be addressed as experts from (possibly) different fields or contexts. Especially people who are usually not addressed as experts or experts who are not used to talking or performing in front of a larger public might share their informal, insecure, precarious knowledge more easily and comprehensively within the One-on-One Encounter.

Within this encounter, two people meet, perform and exchange ideas. Thereby, they receive or adopt knowledge from each other. Consciously or not, both of them produce knowledge in this very moment. Their (different) roles and the (different) ways in which they are addressing each other determine how one and one relate within this constellation. Within her research on activist protests on the Syntagma Square in Athens in 2011, Margarita Tsomou initiated the art-based research project Face-to-Face with the Many – Action with Video Calls: She invited a public to an internet café to meet twelve activists from Athens via video calls. In these face-to-face video meetings, the local participants could talk with the Greek activists about the situation in Athens, the protest movement and their activist strategies. In addition, Tsomou started a live chat as a meta-talk that anyone could join. Her setting takes up the activists’ strategy to elude institutionalised public channels such as the press by using net-based (social) media.

The act of addressing people as experts might create a hierarchy between a person referred to as an expert for a certain discipline and another person who is not. Thus, the researcher should consider carefully what kind of setting and what kind of relation she creates: an encounter between two people addressed as experts or between an expert and a non-specialist. Furthermore, the question arises whether, and if so, how it is possible to collect feedback and to document the encounters. This question should be taken into account when planning the setting.

Artistic means

Creating the set-up for dialogues between two people is a common practice in the arts. Works by Tino Sehgal such as This Progress (2010) or the Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge by Hannah Hurtzig/Mobile Academy Berlin (2005 – ongoing) and others could be mentioned. These examples show that the improbable dialogue that can take place within the intimacy of a one-on-one constellation can work as an act of self-authorisation of the participants, enabling the sharing of knowledge between two people – as Bojana Cvejic describes: “[…] assumptions, beliefs, opinions, habits, facts, information, techniques etc. The talk is an encounter that establishes a relation between knowledge and non-knowledge, between learning and unlearning, explores the difference between ignorance and opinion on the one hand and what is idealized as its opposite, e.g. knowledge, on the other hand” (Cvejic 2006, 17–18).1

Of course, the format of the One-on-One Encounter is not limited to conversations. Encounters that rely more on actions offer the possibility for the exchange and the production of non-verbal action-knowledge. A joint action can for example be structured by the use of instructions or scores. Instruction-based art  formulates precise instructions for actions framed by certain rules, spatial layouts, time limits, selected materials, etc. Especially a precise and narrow framing can work as an invitation to playfully try out and create things one would usually not do. In this instance, two people cast together as team partners do things they would not usually do, or at least not do together. In following the instruction, the knowledge of the team partners is enacted, performed, and new knowledge is produced collaboratively.

Both forms of One-on-One Encounters, whether they focus on conversation or on action (or both), initiate and stage a relation. They can be considered as a form of relational art, which Nicolas Bourriaud defines as “a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space” (Bourriaud 2002: 113). The format of the One-on-One Encounter thus has the potential to produce and question expertise, knowledge, know-how and doubt, and to relate them to each other in dynamic ways.

The research project The School of Girls II by Maike Gunsilius focuses on the collaborative and transgenerational performance of girls and women as citizens (and non-citizens) of postmigrant Hamburg. Six 12-year-old girls and six adult women meet to research the possibilities of acting together as citizens within an artistic performance. After a short workshop, they pair up in teams consisting of one girl and one woman. Each team investigates a certain aspect of the overall research question by following an instruction. By inviting a stranger to a picnic, one team for instance explores how citizens and non-citizens of a postmigrant urban society can come together. After three hours, the teams return to the theatre space to analyse and reflect on the results of their investigation and present and perform their findings for the other teams and for an invited public. By taking questions of female solidarity in a postmigrant society into consideration, girls and women are invited to meet and perform as a transgenerational team on equal terms. All participants are addressed as experts for a different kind of knowledge in order to investigate the potentials and limits of acting in alliance. In an ongoing process of planning and testing, Gunsilius examined how the performative instructions have to be worded to offer a clear frame and at the same time create a space that enables girls and women to act as citizens in an (urban) public. The wording also aimed to reduce hierarchies within the encounters.

Although the One-on-One Encounter produces exclusive and intimate situations, there are different ways of creating a framework that allows the sharing of experiences and findings with others in a larger assembly: For the second part of the School of Girls II, an outside audience was invited to observe how the one-on-one teams share their experiences. In the Blackmarket of Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge format, several One-on-One Encounters are staged to take place simultaneously at different tables in the centre of a room. These tables are surrounded by spectators who can listen in to selected conversations via headphones. In Face-to-Face with the Many – Action with Video Calls, spectators in the call-shop could witness the video-calls and/or join the public chat.

Potentials, problems and outcomes

In a One-on-One Encounter, knowledge, expertise and activities are shared between two people. The exclusive intimacy of this constellation between private and public has the potential to encourage people to open up quickly towards each other. At the same time, the content and findings of this shared exchange remain subjective. If the encounter is observed by an audience (including the researcher), the exchanged or produced knowledge is distributed in a wider circle. This distribution of knowledge in itself can be the specific object of the research interest. If so, this moment has to be focussed on within the respective setting. Thus, observing whether participants in the One-on-One Encounters adhere to the instructions and operate within the given frame or whether they ignore or subvert the set-up, might be more relevant to the research than the experiences and the knowledge produced and shared within the encounters themselves. Accordingly, in order to trace outcomes, the research setting for the One-on-One Encounter should – depending on the research interest – include moments of presentation, explication, feedback and documentation.

As already mentioned, it might be difficult or even impossible for the researcher to fully document this floating exchange of expertise. While observing the conversations in Face-to-Face with the Many – Action with Video Calls, Tsomou for instance noticed that most of the time the conversations did not focus on the set content (activists’ knowledge), but instead had the quality of a flirt between two people. Hence, the One-on-One Encounter might provide a frame for documenting research outcomes that are different from what was originally intended.

In The School of Girls II, the encounters were narrowly framed and teams had to identify outcomes themselves, moderated by Gunsilius. Within the set-up of On Logistics and Choreography, Moritz Frischkorn was part of each One-on-One Encounter and could thus easily lead the encounters towards questions relevant to his research and note and compare outcomes.

One-on-One Encounters, whether they focus on verbal exchange or on acting together, have a unique way of addressing and connecting people – suggesting their collaboration, working on their relations and hierarchies and opening up a frame for research on social encounters.

Maike Gunsilius, Kathrin Wildner


response by Margarita Tsomou


1 German version: http://www.mobileacademy-berlin.com/deutsch/bm_texte/bonja.html


Bourriaud, Nicolas (2002): Relational Aesthetics. Dijon: Presses du réel.

Cvejic, Bojana (2006): „Trickstering, Hallucinating and Exhausting Production. The Blackmarket of Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge“. 31 Das Magazin des Instituts für Theorie und Gestaltung und Kunst, Zürich No. 08/09 (12/2006), pp. 11–18. Available: https://www.yumpu.com/de/document/read/23580535/pdf-des-gesamten-heftes-5mb-institut-fur-theorie-ith (Accessed: 20–08–2020).

Obrist, Hans U. (2013): Do It: The Compendium. New York: Independent Curators International/D.A.P.

Ono, Yoko (1964): Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Tsomou, Margarita. (2018): Zwischen Repräsentationskritik, Selbstrepräsentation und nicht-repräsentativen Politiken: Die Aktionsformen der Aganaktismenoi auf dem Syntagma-Platz, Athen 2011. HafenCity University. Available: https://edoc.sub.uni-hamburg.de//hcu/volltexte/2018/417/ (Accessed: 20–08–2020)

Works / Projects

Frischkorn, Moritz, On Logistics and Choreography, 2017, Hamburg

Gunsilius, Maike, School of Girls II, 2017, Hamburg

Hurtzig, Hannah/Moblie Academy Berlin, Black-market for Useful Knowledge and Non-knowledge, 2005-ongoing, http://mobileacademy-berlin.com/deutsch/index.html

Tsomou, Margarita, Face-to-Face with the Many – Action with Video-calls, 2014, Hamburg

Sehgal, Tino, This Progress, 2010, New York

responded by Inga Reimers

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