In this inaugural edition of the Expanded Theatricalities Chair, the work and ideas of composer and director Heiner Goebbels (Germany, 1952) engage in dialogue with the proposals of artists María Jerez, Pablo Palacio and Silvia Zayas, continuing the debate on expanded theatricalities in these times of Anthropocene crisis — one that can also be considered a crisis of the insurgence of matter, following the ideas of Suely Rolnik.
Heiner Goebbels is one of the foremost creators in the contemporary artistic landscape, with productions and writings that draw influences from the “agency of matter”, a concept referring to matter as an agent of action. Over the past 30 years, Goebbels has challenged limits and deconstructed conventional aesthetic strategies, contributing with major innovations in the scenery of stage and performing arts. In his work Ästhetik der Abwesenheit. Texte zum Theater (Aesthetics of Absence. Texts on Theatre, 2012), which brings together his texts on theatre in their entirety and his music works, he puts forward the idea of theatre as a “thing in itself”, theatre in which a “drama of the senses” or a “drama of the mediums” is developed. The idea has given rise to productions like Stifters Dinge (Stifter’s Things, 2007) in which Goebbels, inspired by the intense perception of landscape in Adalbert Stifter’s novel Granite, creates a stage experiment without actors, whereby theatre mechanisms and stage elements take centre stage; or When the Mountain Changed its Clothing, a work inspired by the popular Resian song Da Da Pa Ćanynu, which reflects the seasonal changes in the Kanin mountains (Slovenia). In his compilatory work, Goebbels writes: “making people who act go backwards and thus excavating anthropocentric automatisms, [Stifter] forces us, through the description of natural catastrophes, for example, to let ourselves be stunned by the forces that escape our sphere of influence”.
Curated by the research-creation group ARTEA, the Chair analyses the thought that inhabits stage and performance practices and invites dialogues which occur between artistic practices and modes of social theatricality to be heard and fostered. The aim is to punctuate the political potency of theatre, choreography and action art, taking into consideration that which is inherent in all of them: the modes of collaborative production and simultaneous presence of bodies, differentiated and individualised, turned into places that posit discourse, the manifestation of dissidence and the emergence of desire as a driving force of life.
Diana Delgado Ureña is a stage arts researcher and independent cultural agent. Since 2013, she has worked as the academic and artistic director of the MA in Arts Practice and Visual Culture (University of Castilla la Mancha and Museo Reina Sofía). Her most recent work most notably includes being the curator, with artist Jaime Vallaure, of the Dame Cuartelillo series of performances in the Conde Duque Cultural Centre in Madrid (2019) and the publication, with artist Vicente Arlandis, editor Gabriela Halac and researcher Miguel Martínez, of El libro agotado (DocumentA/Escénicas, 2019), a stage laboratory on bibliodiversity.
Heiner Goebbels is a composer and director whose productions span musical theatre pieces, stage concerts and orchestral compositions, among other disciplines. He has participated in major music, theatre and art festivals around the world and exhibited his work in institutions such as Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Art Museum from the National University of Bogotá, and Musée d’art contemporain, Lyon. Furthermore, he has lectured at the Institute of Theatre Studies from the Justus Liebig University, Giessen (Germany) and is currently the first holder of the Georg Büchner Chair. Goebbels has been honoured with numerous international awards, including the Prix Italia, European Theatre Prize, and the International Ibsen Award.
María Jerez is an artist whose work is situated between choreography, cinema and the visual arts. In her recent work, she questions theatre and film conventions and the viewer’s implicit understanding in them, opening potential spaces through encounters with that which the spectator finds strange and alien, and establishing indistinct edges between what is known and unknown, between object and subject, the animate and the inanimate. Her work, therefore, seeks to escape logocentric and anthropocentric logics, where human knowledge becomes something vulnerable before other enigmatic and complex ecosystems.
Isabel de Naverán holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country and is an independent researcher. She is part of the research group ARTEA, with her studies exploring the crossroads between art, contemporary choreography and performance in curatorial, publishing and writing projects. In 2010, she founded, with Beatriz Cavia, Miren Jaio and Leire Vergara, the project Bulegoa z/b — Office for Art and Knowledge, with which she was affiliated until 2018. She is currently a live arts adviser in the Museo Reina Sofía’s Public Activities Department and an associate researcher at the Azkuna Zentroa Society and Contemporary Culture Centre in Bilbao.
Pablo Palacio in an electroacoustic and instrumental composer whose work centres on the development of algorithmic approaches in composition and new technology in the sphere of interactive music. Alongside Muriel Romero, he is the director and founder of Instituto Stocos, a project which explores the interaction between music, body movement and visual imagery, and made up of abstractions taken from other disciplines such as artificial intelligence, biology, mathematics and experimental psychology in a stage context.
Victoria Pérez Royo is a professor of Aesthetics and Art Theory at the University of Zaragoza and an ARTEA researcher. She has co-directed the MA in Arts Practice and Visual Culture (University of Castilla la Mancha and Museo Reina Sofía) and taught seminars in university art programmes in countries such as Argentina, Germany, Costa Rica, Belgium, the Netherlands and Mexico, among others. Moreover, she has published books that include Danza contemporánea, espacio público y arquitectura (2008) and Componer el plural. Cuerpo, escena, política (2016, with Diego Agulló). In recent years, she has worked as a curator and on research initiatives in institutions like La Casa Encendida, Museo Reina Sofía and Matadero Madrid.
Fernando Quesada is an architect and head lecturer in Architectural Projects at the University of Alcalá de Henares. He has also been part of the research-creation group ARTEA since its inception. His work focuses on two major fields: the theory and history of modern and contemporary architecture, and its relationship with stage arts and performance, and the main lines of work in this critical framework are the body, biopolitics, spatiality and social theatricality. Furthermore, his most recent publications include Tecnopastoralismo. Ensayos y proyectos en torno a la Arcadia tecnificada (Ediciones Asimétricas, 2020) and Mobile Theater. Architectural Counterculture on Stage (Actar Publishers, 2021).
José Antonio Sánchez is a lecturer at the Cuenca Faculty of Fine Arts and founder of the ARTEA research group and the MA in Arts Practice and Visual Culture (University of Castilla la Mancha and Museo Reina Sofía). Among his publications are La escena moderna (1999), Prácticas de lo real (2007) and Cuerpos ajenos (2017), and his recent work most notably includes directing the stage version of Argentinean artist León Ferrari’s Cuerpos ajenos (The Bodies of Others, 2017), in collaboration with Juan Ernesto Díaz and Ruth Estévez (2017–2018), and, with Esther Belvis, the publication of a monographic issue of the magazine Performance Research, “On Disappearance” (2019).
Silvia Zayas is an artist who works at the limits of live arts, film and expanded choreography. She searches for hybrid forms of research and artistic production, visible in her project Jumping Scales (Matadero Madrid, 2018). Her works most notably include Talking pictures (2018), with Esperanza Collado, and, in 2021, the films Brilliant Corners, with the Orquestina de Pigmeos collective, Puebla, with María Jerez, and the stage piece U.