Billede af Rahel Leupin
  • Universitetsvej 1, 43.2

    DK-4000 Roskilde


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Personlig profil



"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" - Albert Einstein


Research statement

I am a performance studies researcher interested in exploring the fluid borders between arts and politics and between social practices and aesthetics. Questions that have accompanied me through my professional career are: Can an aesthetic experience be transformative and generate impacts on our everyday lives? Where does the aesthetic experience end and where do politics begin? What is the role of the contemporary arts in a globalized society? I have been pursuing these questions in my earlier professional career as, respectively, an arts founder with the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia, as a performing arts curator at the Rote Fabrik in Zurich, and as a freelance journalist.

I like to think and link practical work with theory, the arts with other disciplines, and the global with the local. I am intrigued by the new multilayered ‘worlds’ that evolve from these linkages. And I am fascinated by how these in-between spaces challenge national, aesthetic, cultural and political orders and borders. In so doing contemporary performances allow for the sharing and negotiating of multiple realities.


PhD Project

Global-Contemporary Performance Spaces in the Making

The motivation for my PhD thesis dates back a decade ago when my work as an arts manager and curator in the performing arts became increasingly international. Watching over hundred shows a year from around the globe and discussing issues and challenges of international theater exchange with artists, curators and policy makers, I became intrigued by the particular dynamics of this emerging scene of global contemporary performance.

My doctoral research project sets out to explore how globalization effects collaborations and exchange in transnational performing arts worlds. I document and analyze performance sites characterized by social, political, aesthetical and cultural asymmetries that understand difference as a potential for social innovation and aesthetic richness. I am interested in performance spaces that overcome boundaries of disciplines, gender, nationalities and aesthetic traditions and thereby create new performative identities. The aim of these particular spaces is most often not to produce a harmonious performance experiences for the viewer, but to explore multiple realities with all its contradictions. I seek to demonstrate that these multilayered performance sites emphasize processes and politics of exchange rather than the performative artefact per se.

My research project focuses on the making of global-contemporary performances and festivals, using in-depth ethnography in order to understand their aesthetical and socio-political context. My PhD thesis follows leading questions such as:

  • What characterizes interpersonal interactions in transnational performance networks?
  • How is difference negotiated in a global-contemporary performance experience?
  • What are curatorial and artistic strategies the actors use dealing with social, artistic, cultural and political asymmetries?

Theoretically, I draw on Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and the new sociology of art. Instead of analyzing completed artworks or festivals I scrutinize the creative process and social making of a performance piece, for example by collecting data in rehearsal spaces or festival offices. These are the physical and social spaces where performance (festivals) emerge as laboratories for the transcultural social. Focusing on the making of global-contemporary performances allows for deeper insights into the creative adaptions and negotiations that involve shifting power positions and interpersonal relations.



Performance Studies, rehearsal analysis, global curating, transformative aesthetics, Actor-Network Theory, translation, global-contemporary.



Master in Arts Administration, UNIVERSITY OF BASEL (2007)

Master in Theater Studies, UNIVERSITY OF BERN (2002)