Elise von Bernstorff, The Last Judgment – A Staged Tour of the Civil Justice Building, 2013, Hamburg

Elise von Bernstorff, Das jüngste Gericht – Eine inszenierte Führung durch das Ziviljustizgebäude, 2013, Hamburg


The court is a social institution that embodies long-term, standardised processes that fundamentally determine people’s actions. In its operation, the court exercises coercion and sanctions deviant behaviour. However, as an institution, the court is not a clearly defined field, insofar as it necessarily refers to other institutions and has no absolute spatial boundaries, no clear beginning and no clear ending. To investigate the theatricality and performativity of the court system as an institution, Elise von Bernstorff collaborated with children to involve their perspective as ‘uninvolved’ outsiders, as those who are excluded from its system due to their young age. For The Last Judgment – A Staged Tour of the Civil Justice Building von Bernstorff investigated in field research the district court and regional court of Hamburg Mitte with class 7b of Europa Gymnasium Hamm. Along with exploring the court as a space of offices and filing cabinets with their own smell and a paternoster lift, they took part in trials, wrote minutes and reports and researched the court’s means by testing them. From these experiences, the researchers developed the theatrical format of a tour of the civil justice building, in which the children acted as hosts and experts for the audience. Artistically, the tour was guided by an aesthetic of the labyrinthine, taking up the children’s perceptions of the building. The tour connected various stations at which research results were displayed and scenes were performed.


Researchers: Elise von Bernstorff

Co-researchers: Hanno Krieg, Michaela Troschier, Lani Tran-Duc, Katharina Kellermann (Pelosi), Greta Granderath, Baris Arslan, Bahir Aryubi, Benjamin Azardashti, Mariya Barinskaya, Nail Civan, Christian Lyle Detmering, Jegor Diakov, Melisa Eyigün, David Ghazaryan, Firusa Goumbatova, Muhammed Ali Gülaz, Ceyda Hamzai, Arina-Gabriela Jiplea, Zeynep Dilek Kartal, Vladimir Katschkajev, Simrandeep Kaur, Mehmet Kayali, Adrine Lazarbabroudi, Eduard Lomtadze, Emre Milijic, Maxi Marie Müller, Shemsije Ramadani, Patricia Sanchez Klapproth, Aleyna Nur Sarieriklioglu, Berkay Sturm, Samra Zorlak

Participants: Juliane Garstka (courtroom sketch artist)

Collaboration: FUNDUS THEATER/Theatre of Research, Amtsgericht Hamburg, Europagymnasium Hamm, Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, Rudolf Augstein Stiftung, TuSch

Formats: Try-out Institution