Research Programme

The postgraduate programme Assemblies and Participation: Urban Publics and Performance asks how performance and media-based arts can contribute to the development of new forms of public assemblies and democratic participation in urban civil society.

The public assembly, defined by a co-presence of strangers, has long been considered a basic condition for performance. With the emergence of site-specific, participatory and multi-media performance the form of this assembly, however, has been up for negotiation and has shifted from a pre-condition to an experimental set-up. If and how a specific form of public assembly comes into being is exactly what many contemporary performance works explore. What roles are taken up in forming the assembly and how are the participants addressed? What times, places and media does the assembly use and what kinds of relations are thereby created? Thus, similar questions are asked with regard to performance as they are with regard to the development of democratic participation in society in general. While the term participation appears overused at times and needs to be critically discussed, it can be stated that social, academic and artistic developments regarding the question of participation and public assemblies in many respects run in parallel – and it is exactly these parallels that constitute the research field of the postgraduate programme. Events on both local and international levels show to what extent the democratic development of societies depends on the possiblities of participation and on their constant re-discovery and advancement. In this context contemporary performance practice can be understood as a space for experiments in which new forms of assemblies and participation can be rehearsed, explored and also questioned. This applies in particular to:

A)  Performance in Urban Public Space
B)  Performance in the Context of Cultural Education
C)  Choreography/Performance
D)  Performance-oriented and Experimental Media Arts

In these areas, concepts of participation and publics, and the communication of knowledge, as well as different forms of movement, assembly and interaction are constantly critically reflected, negotiated and developed. The postgraduate programme benefits from the concentration of these areas in Hamburg and brings them together on an institutional level. In each of these four areas two PhD students respectively conduct research projects that consist of a theoretical-analytical as well as of an artistic part (see „research projects” for further details). This combination of artistic and academic practices is furthermore connected to the integration of „everyday experts” into the individual projects. The postgraduate programme thereby aims to contribute to the development of transdisciplinary research between art, academia and everyday knowledge, in particular through the A-Z of transdisciplinary research that will be available in an online wiki / encyclopaedia here (only in German).