Performance Potential at one Complex, Specific Site: About the Multi-Armed Octotpus of Interpretation

Bidragets oversatte titel: Performancepotentialer for et specifikt sted

Bjørn Laursen

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportBidrag til bog/antologiForskningpeer review


This article points out some dramaturgic potential located at the site “Danish Aquarium”, in a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark.
This “Danmarks Akvarium” (Danish title) institution is a modernist building , filled with showcases – aquaria – where you, as a visitor at daily opening hours, can experience a lot of differently looking fish, local and exotic.
Being among no less than 50 aquaria, showing beautiful colours in intense lightening, you are situated in a highly complex, spatial ”set design” or “topology”. You are “in medias res” still being your always “inseparable body and mind”, as late French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty probably would have said (Merleau-Ponty 1962/1979, 49).
A group of performance-design students of mine made the experiment to turn this institution into a theatrical space for one dark evening in the autumn of 2008, probably being inspired by a video, showing provoking Danish performer and sculptor, professor Bjørn Nørgaard, appearing down in the water, in one of the big aquaria on this very same Copenhagen locality, having minor fish swimming around him!
Different groups of actors and a composing musician brought simultaneous performing and acting invited by my students to the space between all these “water landscapes” and even some of the actors inside a few of them, like Nørgaard .
In these settings the audience had a non-traditional experience of what was going on around them for two whole hours, simultaneously having the opportunity of perceiving different disciplines: performance, drama, dance and music.
Complex rules of “borders” between audience and actors/performers appeared to be present and active during this long happening. Different narrative genres were active simultaneously during the experimental session. A lot of complex and surprising phenomena turned up at this exorbitant site.
However, only a few examples in this article will focus on what seemed to happen during this concrete 2008-event. Instead – being inspired of being there as a member of the audience – I will focus on analysing and illustrating especially some of the core potential and combinations of spatial, dramaturgical, narrative and interactive challenges, which appear to be of special interest for the kind of experiences an audience might gather in a site like this, originally created with totally different intentions. Or was it?
Bidragets oversatte titelPerformancepotentialer for et specifikt sted
TitelEngaging Spaces : Sites of Performance, Interaction, and Reflection
RedaktørerErik Kristiansen, Olaf Harsløf
ForlagMuseum Tusculanum
ISBN (Trykt)9788763542005
StatusUdgivet - 2015


  • site specific performance
  • situationistic narration
  • genius loci

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