Katarina Šević & Tehnica Schweiz: Alfred Palestra
Venue: Alternatív Közgazdasági Gimnázium
1035 Budapest, Raktár u. 1.
The Alfred Palestra workshop and performance was first heldstaged at the 2014 Rennes Biennale, performed by the students of a local lyceum. At the end of the 19th century, a school in Rennes (today Lycée Émile Zola) was the site of two important events in cultural history: the second Dreyfus trial was held in the gymnasium of the school Alfred Jarry was attending. The possible encounter of Alfred Jarry and Alfred Dreyfus in that particular space symbolises the concurrence of the crisis of the republic and the birth of the avantgarde movement. It is this symbolic coincidence that is the topic of the project.
The project was carried out with the cooperation of a drama group of secondary school students, who rehearse regularly in the gym where the trial was held. During the workshop, the artists and the students engaged in interpreting extracts of literary texts from two parallel literary canons. One of the canons consists of Alfred Dreyfus’s books that he read during his exile on Devil’s Island between 1895 and 1898; while the second one is made up of Jarry’s library; that is, a library consisting of 27 equal books appearing in Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician. This method of ‘reading together’ became an alternative method of interpreting the art and culture of the age in question. The costumes and symbolic, moving wooden objects, created for the performance and the workshop, also function as an installation. At the OFF Biennale, Alfred Palestra is, adapted to the Hungarian environment, is staged at the Alternative Secondary School of Economics (Alternatív Közgazdasági Gimnázium) in Budapest, as part of an event entitled When art(ist) speaks. Performers are former and current students of the school.
In the Budapest version, the play that originally had a number of references to Rennes has been transformed to carry a more general content. The new performance focuses on certain aspects of the play that are also currently topical in Hungary: the key issue addressed by the workshop was how the avantgarde experiments that had just emerged could respond to the crisis of the republic and to the deeper crisis of society in general in France in 1898. Alfred Palestra is an alternative teaching method developed by artists that enables students to learn about one of the crucial events of Western history through close cooperation and mutual help. This method offers an alternative to the traditional teaching methods that focus on conventional learning and memorising. Therefore, besides its primary goal, the project also aims to challenge the current centralised educational model in Hungary.
For a detailed programme of the Rennes project please visit: http://tehnicaschweiz.com/wpc...
The costumes and objects, which had been created for the performance and the workshop, are displayed at the acb Gallery. (25. April 4. June 2015)
Alternatív Közgazdasági Gimnázium, Igor Metropol
The projekt was originally commisioned by Les Atelier de Rennes Play Time’ (curated by Zoë Gray).