Empty Stages, Crowded Flats: Performativity as Curatorial Strategy


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During its impressive career over the last decades the term ‘performative’ has been attributed with many parallel meanings in the humanities, philosophy, arts, or economics. Empty Stages, Crowded Flats applies the notion of the performative to the context of curating with the aim to unfold a potential that so far has been mostly unused.

The book is following J. L. Austin, Judith Butler, and others in their belief in the performative capacity to transform reality with words and other cultural utterances, but it also emphasises the often dismissed, colloquial notion of the performative as something being ‘theatre-like’, believing that those two strands are in fact interdependent and intertwined.

Empty Stages, Crowded Flats investigates an array of staged situations, from choreographed exhibitions, immaterial museums, theatres of negotiation, and discursive marathons, to street carnivals and subversive public-art projects, and asks how ‘theatre-like’ strategies and techniques can in fact enable ‘reality making’ situations in art, and how, as a consequence, curating itself becomes staged, dramatised, choreographed, and composed.

Contributions by: Frédérique Aït-Touati, Knut Ove Arntzen, Nedjma Hadj Benchelabi, Claire Bishop, Beatrice von Bismarck, Rui Catalão, Vanessa Desclaux, Tim Etchells, Galerie, Karin Harasser, Shannon Jackson, Ana Janevski, Lina Majdalanie, Ewa Majewska, Florian Malzacher, Maayan Sheleff, Gerald Siegmund, Claire Tanzens, Kasia Tórz, Rachida Triki, Jelena Vesić, Joanna Warsza, and Catherine Wood.

Read review from Beatrix Joyce.

Empty Stages, Crowded Flats is the fourth part of the publication series Performing Urgency, commissioned by European theatre network House on Fire.

House on Fire is supported by the Culture Programme of European Union.

House on Fire, Alexander Verlag and Live Art Development Agency, 2017. 15.5 x 22.5cm, 159 pages, paperback with black and white photographs throughout.


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Additional information

Weight 450.0 kg