Daniel Buren - work IN SITU

Daniel Buren - work IN SITU

To launch the 2018/2019 season, we will be presenting In Situ, a work by the renowned French artist and theorist Daniel Buren, made as part of our project Scenography as a work of art. In doing so, we want to highlight the autonomy of form in theatre and recall Józef Szajna’s concept for a synthesis of the arts. In 1972, Szajna invited Oskar Hansen to modernize Teatr Studio, with its traditional distinction into stage and auditorium, and turn it into an open space encouraging an interactive relationship between actors and audiences. Hansen and Szajna believed that overcoming the resistance posed by theatre architecture would eliminate barriers and distance in communication and enable participants to respond subjectively to events, in keeping with the theory of Open Form.

When such an active response is brought into play, it challenges the validity of dramatic texts. In such a context, space can generate new forms, paving the way for the constructive clash of various actions. When scenography and objects are the starting point, the potential for transformation becomes infinite. With this in mind, we have invited young stage-directors, still defining their artistic idiom, to take part in the project. Buren’s In Situ has inspired Radosław Maciąg to stage Sarah Kane’s Crave, Ewa Rucińska to adapt José Saramago’s Seeing, and Grzegorz Jaremko to enter into a dialogue with Derek Jarman’s meditations from Chroma. A Book of Color.

The autonomy of scenography in a theatre setting encourages broader consideration of the situational context: a fact emphasised in Daniel Buren’s artistic practice and reflection on the institutional dimension of art. Places that had seemed familiar are no longer so: they simply exist. Any covenants we make with space turn out to be merely temporary.

Space is the factor that unites what spectators and actors are doing, suspending and invalidating the categories of theatricality and authorship, as well as the boundary separating fact from fiction. What is real is the place and all the social activities that take place within it. Consequently, the slightest actions acquire a performative character – as does matter itself.


Interpretation of texts is the starting point of bourgeois and psychological theatre, which is why theatre is often said to be subordinate to literature. We have taken the opposite approach. It is space that is the given here – like the play or the libretto used to be – and the director begins by interpreting that space and selecting texts and actors accordingly. The scenography has been placed “on display” in the theatre for the duration of the season, where it can be viewed independently of performances. In this way, for a brief time, the theatre becomes a gallery, abolishing the boundary between genres. This is the Utopian possibility explored by Daniel Buren, whose physical and theoretical works have helped redefine the concept of the artwork and the exhibition in the last century. I see the project as also being inspired by the collaboration between Józef Szajna and Oskar Hansen. Attempting to do away with the bourgeois distinction into stage and auditorium, Hansen proposed a number of Utopian concepts of redesigning the main stage of Teatr Studio, sketches for which were shown at a 2016 exhibition, curated by Barbara Piwowarska and Dorota Jarecka in Galeria Studio.
Natalia Korczakowska

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