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Phila Bergmann/Thea Reifler

Bringing Institutions to LIVE: curating live arts and creating infrastructures
5–17 August 2024

SCHULE DER LIEBENDEN (SCHOOL OF LOVERS) credits: Irem Gungez @iremgungez

[Slider above]
Proto-Club4 with the work of Soft Scores by DIVAS, guided by Aga Pedziwiatr, credits: Carla Schleiffer

Group Course and individual consultations/ Curating

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Teaching language
English (German possible)

What to bring
Working tools you need for your own artistic and/or curatorial practice(s)

Practitioners of any background are welcome; experience with curating or performance art is optional.

Maximum number of participants

Participation fee 
670 Euro (reduced 495 Euro)

At Shedhalle in Zurich, Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann work with the concept of the ProtoZone. This refined curatorial approach to process-based exhibition-making challenges the visual arts culture often attached to ‘classical’ art institutions. In the ProtoZone, live performances and transdisciplinary gatherings come together in a socio-political art space. This setup changes the very institutional structure of the space itself.

With a background in theatre, opera, choreography and performance, Thea and Phila  will share their experience of curating, producing and feedbacking live artistic formats. What are the chances and challenges of working with ephemeral arts in the visual art context?

Students will take a set of methodologies and hands-on practices from this course to engage with ephemeral art forms as curators, mediators, communicators or other facilitators. Furthermore, they will learn about working within an institutional context or instituting one while developing a shared practice with various artists, different teams, and manifold guests. This includes building institutional infrastructures, hosting, writing applications, budgets and production plans, creating public relations, and developing outreach and education programmes.

A vision of the institution as a shared process and place of social justice and diversity drives the approach the course engages with. The course will be adapted to the practices and interests of the participants, which will be worked on and presented at the open studios.

Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann collaborate in the fields of music theater, opera, performance, installation, direction and curation. In recent years they have developed process-based interdisciplinary projects with a queer-feminist focus.

In 2020, Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann began working as artistic directors at Shedhalle Zurich, a position they will hold until 2025. In cooperation with the curatorial team there, they have developed the idea of the PROTOZONE as an exhibition format for process-based art. In 2021 and 2022, they co-directed the Bone-Performance Festival in Bern. Until the summer of 2023, Thea Reifler was teaching in the department of architecture and art at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). Phila Bergmann has been part of the research project COLLECTING THE EPHEMERAL – Prerequisites and Possibilities for Making Performance Art Last at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Art, where they also work as a lecturer. Thea Reifler and Phila Bergmann also work together as Social Justice & Radical Diversity Trainers, with a focus on gender and class. Their artistic work has been shown at Hamburger Bahnhof, 3HD Festival, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Radialsystem (all in Berlin), SpielArt- Festival Munich, Nowy-Teatr in Warsaw, Zurich Theater Spektakel and Opera Darmstadt, among others. Recently their essay WHEN CONTEXT COMES FROM PROCESS: THE PROTOZONES METHOD was published in the book Politics of Curatorship.

PhilaThea_Flavio Karrer
Photo: Flavio Karrer