The Showroom

Helen Stratford and Diana Wesser : Performative Architectures

Tuesday 25 October 2011, 6.30–8.30pm


Helen Stratford (artist/architect) and Diana Wesser (artist/performer) participate in an open discussion to explore concepts of performance in ways of researching, working within and producing public space and architecture. Addressing power structures, alternate practices, performativity and participation.

Guest speakers include Kathrin Bohm (Artist /Director, Public Works), Doina Petrescu (Architect/Activist/Educator), and Jane Rendell (Writer and Architectural Historian/Theorist/Designer.)

Performative Architectures is part of a collaborative research project with the same name by Helen Stratford and Diana Wesser. Working with artists, curators and publics, the project aims to open up future possibilities for exchange and dialogues, to extend existing networks and to develop new practice directions working between concepts of architecture/public space and performativity.

Performative Architectures is supported by Arts Council England as part of the Escalator Live Art programme.

Helen Stratford's practice draws upon architecture, writing & performance to explore the role everyday objects/activities play in supporting certain ways of being or placing. Member of feminist art/architecture collective taking place, she has recently presented work at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, ICA London, The Opera House, Leipzig, Academy Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Tate Modern London and at the École des Beaux Arts Paris. She is based at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire. /

Diana Wesser’s performances, walks and videos investigate social and cultural codes, how they become apparent in the body and its relation to space; providing a critique of performativity and theatrical aspects of everyday life. Her current focus lies on active audiences and community-based participatory art. She recently presented works at CerModern Contemporary Arts Museum, Ankara (2011), EXPO 2010, Shanghai and the National Gallery, Dhaka (2009). In addition is a curator for performance in public space, most recently for the conference/performance festival ‘play! LEIPZIG –Movement in Public Space’ (2010). She lives in Leipzig (DE). /

Diana Wesser and Helen Stratford have been working collaboratively since 2005 as artist duo urban (col)laboratory realising projects that combine performance/ architecture, practice/theory, intervention/lecture. To date, outcomes of this interdisciplinary collaboration include public art projects, performative walks, exhibitions, spatial and audio interventions, lectures and discussions, published papers, films, artist’s books and articles in architectural/art journals, presented at local, national and international events.

Kathrin Böhm is Director of Public Works - art and architecture practice working within and towards public space. Projects span different scales, address the relation between informal and formal aspects, while producing social, architectural and discursive spaces. Current projects include Wick Curiosity Shop meets Rurban, a three year collaboration project with aaa, Paris, Colchester Inn, commission for a new public space by firstsite, Colchester, development of three cultural resource centres in rural West Bengal, India, collective projects include International Village Shop and performance related work with 30 Bird Productions.

Born and trained as an architect in Romania, Doina Petrescu completed a PhD in Women’s Studies at the University of Paris VIII. She is Professor of Architecture and Design Activism at the School of Architecture, University of Sheffield and currently acts as Director of Graduate School. Her research focuses on two main strands: gender and space within contemporary society and participation in architecture, both with a strong international dimension. She is also a co-founder of atelier d’architecture autogeree (aaa) an international award winning research-led practice.

Jane Rendell’s work explores interdisciplinary intersections between architecture, art, feminism, and psychoanalysis. Her authored books include Site-Writing (2010), Art and Architecture (2006), and The Pursuit of Pleasure (2002) and she is co-editor of Pattern (2007), Critical Architecture (2007), Spatial Imagination (2005), The Unknown City (2001), Intersections (2000), Gender, Space, Architecture (1999) and Strangely Familiar (1995). Her talks/texts have been commissioned by artists such as Daniel Arsham and Bik Van Der Pol, and galleries like the Hayward and the Serpentine. She is Professor of Architecture and Art, and Vice Dean of Research at the Bartlett, UCL.