Gisèle Vienne

Gisèle Vienne, L’Etang, 2020. Photo: Estelle Hanania

Gisèle Vienne

This Causes Consciousness to Fracture – A Puppet Play

12.9.2024 – 12.1.2025

This autumn, for the first time in Berlin, the Haus am Waldsee in collaboration with the Georg Kolbe Museum and Sophiensæle present the artistic work of Gisèle Vienne (b. 1976). Haus am Waldsee is going to showcase a large-scale solo exhibition spanning the entire institution. Over the past twenty-five years, the French-Austrian artist, choreographer, and director has created a complex and idiosyncratic body of work that reconsiders our perceptual frameworks and invents artistic languages in order to pave the way for structural societal change. Vienne’s creations, both on stage and within her visual practice, are developed together with dancers and actors, and are often animated by anthropomorphic figures and puppets to explore the sensuality, rage, and creativity of counterculture in all its subversive potential. Through bringing together her philosophical influences and formal experiences, her work on stage and otherwise seeks to overturn dominant orders and to invent new artistic forms that explore the possibility of encoding the world differently.

Vienne predominantly works on the stage where she expands her practice by incorporating dolls and life-size puppets, mainly representing adolescents. Her use of puppets, considered in the field of figurative sculpture, unfold a decidedly political dimension in relation to the body as a place where culturally and socially constructed systems of perception can be questioned, criticised, and possibly dislodged. By staging the longing and the fears of a crisis-bound youth, her protagonists’ sensibilities are validated in all their political and societal aspects. Vienne’s work involves itself in the battle that rages against standardising, authoritarian forces which weigh heavy on the mind and body. ‘Gisèle Vienne embarks on a meticulous, determined and challenging quest. She investigates the framework of intelligibility that governs our gestures, our imaginary and our collective myths, our identities, our morals, and, ultimately, social order.’[1]

The exhibition assembles the life-size puppets created by Vienne over the last twenty years in a carefully composed installation alongside a body of photographs by the artist, portraying the range and types of dolls. Staged in the guise of a puppet play the presentation is developed purposefully for the architecture of the Haus am Waldsee, where layers of language, sound, and movement are pitched against the silence and immobility of the exhibited dolls. Here, Vienne creates a field of tension between self-determination and heteronomy, questioning moments that cause consciousness to fracture. The title, This Causes Consciousness to Fracture, is borrowed from a track from the album Patterns of Consciousness (Important Records, 2017) by Caterina Barbieri, Vienne’s collaborator for the stage piece EXTRA LIFE (2023).

The exhibition is part of a collaboration between the Haus am Waldsee, the Georg Kolbe Museum, and Sophiensæle, Berlin. All three institutions bring Vienne’s work, in all its complexity, to the city as part of Berlin Art Week 2024 and present different approaches to her multifaceted practice, located between photography, sculpture and installation, film, choreography, and theatre. Haus am Waldsee opens This Causes Consciousness to Fracture on 11 September 2024 (the exhibition runs from 12 September 2024 to 12 January 2025). At Georg Kolbe Museum the exhibition, presenting Viennes work in the context of female avantgarde artists, opens on 12 September 2024 (the exhibition runs from 13 September 2024 to 16 March 2025). The film Jerk by Gisèle Vienne will be shown as part of an artist talk at Sophiensæle on 15 September 2024. Performances of Crowd are planned for 14, 15, and 16 November 2024.

[1] Elsa Dorlin, ‘To the Accursed Role We Play: Gisèle Vienne’, Magazine Ruhrtriennale, 2021, online at: https://archiv.ruhrtriennale.de/2021/en/magazine/to-the-accursed-role-we-play-gisele-vienne/62.html

In cooperation with: 

The exhibition is supported by: 

As part of: