Elise von Bernstorff, The Last Judgment – An Extrajudicial Hearing, 2014, Hamburg

Elise von Bernstorff, Das jüngste Gericht – eine außergerichtliche Verhandlung, 2014, Hamburg


Law comes into the world through law-making. It constantly and without ceasing takes distinct positions. The ones empowered to make decisions define who the institution represents and how to characterise the institution of the court. The Last Judgment – An Extrajudicial Hearing was a performative research project with primary school students from Hamburg that centred around the act of instituting and investigated the form and characteristics of the court in relation to court cases which were at the edges of the legal system. As the second part of her research design, Elise von Bernstorff brought the court to the theatre: The stories of troublemakers, losers of lawsuits or plaintiffs who could not even bring their case forward were staged by von Bernstorff at FUNDUS THEATER/Theatre of Research. The project investigated representation and the figure of the proxy in court and in the theatre. Can we use the theatre to bring forward what is not mentioned in court? What happens when adults are represented by children? Von Bernstorff wanted to play with ideas of proxy and representation and explore new ways of advocacy. Children were addressed as experts for their experience with speaking for in contrast to being talked over. Children and parties at court share a sense of being patronised by those who are trying to give them a voice along existing relations of dominance. When children now represent adults, new perspectives can be opened up: Is it possible to leave a gap for the unrepresentable in court, for the uncertain in each representation? Is it possible to make visible that what is represented in court is never completely absorbed in the representative?


Researchers: Elise von Bernstorff

Co-researchers: Jim Ismael Anton, Gonzalo Barahona, Justus Berger, Mareike Bongers, Greta Granderath, Katharina Kellermann (Pelosi), Cecilia Meyer-Abich, Lilo Schmolke

Participants: Dietrich Kuhlbrodt, Boran Burchhardt, Christopher Hahn, Paul Schmid (BUNDHamburg), Johannes Kohl, Dörte Schmidt-Reichard, Kim (name changed), Maritza Schwarten, Rüdiger Steinbeck, Sven Fraass/Tierschutzverein (animal shelter) Hamburg, class 10b of Stadtteilschule am Hafen/St. Pauli, Frank Helmrich (lighting design)

Formats: Try-out Institution