Professor Thea Brejzek is an internationally recognised expert in scenography, both in and beyond the context of theatre and performance design. Thea joined UTS in early 2013 as Professor for Spatial Theory and also holds the position of Course Director of the Interior and Spatial Design Program in the School of Design.
Thea’s research is concerned with constructions of performativity in spaces of social, cultural and political engagement. This includes urban and public space, exhibition, and media space.
She lectures on the subjects of foundations in spatial language, performative spaces, history and theory of space and light and space.
Her arrival in Sydney comes after five years as Professor at the Zurich University for Art and Design (ZHdK), Switzerland. She holds a PhD from the University of Vienna on Physicality and Virtuality: Actor, Space and Memory on the Mediated Stage and lectures and publishes widely on theories of space and expanded practices in scenography.
In 2014 Thea was appointed to the scientific advisory board of the Bauhaus Dessau where her portfolio includes scenography, spatial design, and international relations. In 2013 she was a Visiting Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL London. In 2011, she was the Founding Curator for Theory at the Prague Quadrennial for Performance Design and Space (PQ), Prague.
Member Scientific Advisory Board, Bauhaus Dessau
Associate Editor, Theatre and Performance Design, Routledge Journal
Director IDEA InteriorDesign / Interior Architecure Educators Association http://idea-edu.com
Executive Editorial Committee IDEA Journal
Member Scenography Working Group IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research)
Member Swiss Society for Cultural Theory and Semiotics SGKS
Member Performance Design Working Group OISTAT, International Association of Theatre Architects and Technicians
Theories of Space
Scenography and Set Design in the 20th/21th Century
Light and Space
The Model as Performance
Foundations in Spatial Language
History and Theory of Space
Light and Space
Brejzek, T. 2015, 'The scenographic (re-)turn: figures of surface, space and spectator in theatre and architecture theory 1680–1980', Theatre & Performance Design, vol. 1, no. 1-2, 2015, pp. 17-30.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Three cultural 'crises', namely the seventeenth-century debate regarding the ontology of time and space, the passage into modernity in the early twentieth century and the rise of postmodernism in the late twentieth century, are portrayed here as 'shifts' in the spatial theories and practices of theatre and architecture. Each shift necessarily evokes the question all over again as to how meaning is attributed and negotiated in the design of space. G.W. Leibniz's theoretical spatial model of the universe as much as Max Herrmann's notion of theatrical space, Adolf Loos' modernist struggle against the ornament and Robert Venturi's embracing of the 'hybrid and impure' elements of architecture have shown that the centre of theatre and architecture practice rests upon the negotiation between the spectator's perspectival viewing of the object or performance and its distinct spatial condition of both surface and volume. This article is concerned with the origin, the metaphor and rhetoric of the 'scenographic' in a specific time period (1680–1980) and focuses on what might be called several 'crises' in the thinking about architectural and theatrical space.
Brejzek, T. & Wallen, L. 2014, 'After the Rupture: Restoration or Revolution?', Performance Research: a journal of the performing arts, vol. 19, no. 6, December 2014, pp. 22-29.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Ali, 18, was convicted of pulling down the Australian ?lag from Brighton Le Sands RSL (The Returned and Services League of Australia) in the aftermath of the Cronulla riots in December 2005. It was a day when violence was fuelled by a number of different elements of the entire community. Ali spent a number of months in juvenile detention and was subsequently convicted of the offence and ordered to make a public apology to the club in the presence of the State RSL President, Don Rowe. As part of its plan for Alis redemption, the RSL proposed that he carry the ?lag in this years Anzac Day march in Sydney, but that was withdrawn following an outcry from some members of the veteran community and the public.
Brejzek, T. 2010, 'From social network to urban intervention: On the scenographies of flash mobs and urban swarms', International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 109-122.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Relating examples of mob practice (New York 2003, London 2007 and Munich 2009) to spatial and critical theory (de Certeau, Debord), it is argued that the desire to engage with the city forms the central motivation for flash mob activities. However, whether self-organized or commercially hijacked, the artistic language and agency of realized flash mobs so far appear largely repetitive, unimaginative and underdeveloped. This article can thus be read as a plaidoyer for contemporary performative, participatory and scenographic practices to critically engage with the flash mob genre in a proposed shift towards urban commentary and critique.It is further proposed that a potential for artistic intent and social critique inherently exists in the flash mob's appropriation of the city as a scenographic, performative space. Where the consumerist city and its uphold depend on the perpetuation of eternal mobility, flash mob scenographies form an orchestrated spatial figure of resistance.The urban scenographies created and inhabited by flash mobs are participatory, temporary and ephemeral. They are designed in online communities and social networks and it is argued here that the grammar of the social network provides the model for the flash mob's spatial figure and scenography. And while digital scenography is usually associated with an image-producing process, its spatial faculties become legible if virtual communities and networks are looked upon as social, scenographic spaces.
Brejzek, T. 2017, 'Between Symbolic Representation and New Critical Realism: Architecture as Scenography and Scenography as Architecture' in McKinney, J. & Palmer, S. (eds), Scenography Expanded: An introduction to contemporary performance design, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, London, pp. 63-78.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Brejzek, T. & Wallen, L. 2016, 'Unstable Architectures:Camping, Modernism and Beyond' in Perren, C. & Breen Lovett, S. (eds), Expanded Architecture: Temporal Formal Practices, AADR Publisher, Baunach, Leipzig, pp. 125-138.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This chapter investigates the phenomenon of 'transience' in modernist architecture and postmodernist transdisciplinary and architectural experimentation. With case studies spanning over a time period from 1922 -2012, the authors argue what connects the selected key practice case studies is their common origin in the positively connoted notion of the nomadic, the temporary and unsettled. In architecture as much as in philosophical thought, temporary occupations have offered an alternate vision of inhabitation to the constraints of a society that typically defines itself through conventions of settledness, stability, and duration. Deleuze's notion of nomadism as an activity and a process that sets up a counter-space to the dominant space of the State, provides one set of relations with which to think about temporal and transient built structures and its contemporary reflections, and Heidegger's practices of 'dwelling' as a mode of 'being in the world' where, however, identity is not linked to a place, form another theoretical provocation. Through two modernist case studies of 'unstable architectures', namely Rudolph Schindler's Kings Road House in Los Angeles (1922) and Eileen Gray's E-1027 house in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin (1926-29), we reflect on both architects' desires for the design of their own houses as distinctly temporal dwellings. In contrast, the third case study, designed and built 60 years later, the architect's collective Raumlabor's Marathon Camp at the Steirischer Herbst Festival in Graz, Austria (2012) shows not a private dwelling but rather a model for the temporary housing of 'theory', i.e. for a localized and collective thinking. The concept of unstable architectures, it is argued here, is linked to the creation of systems of performative relations between people and spaces through experimentation, critique and contextualisation. Unstable architectures provoke and enable alternate modes of individual and collective behaviour and in doing so, these...
Brejzek, T. 2015, 'Experts of the Every-Space: On Critical Space-making Strategies in Cargo Sofia X / Cargo Asia and Ciudades Paralelas – Parallel Cities' in Birgfeld, J., Garde, U. & Mumford, M. (eds), Rimini Protokoll Close-Up: Lektüren, Wehrhahn Verlag, Hannover, pp. 58-71.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This text identifies critical space-making strategies in the performance environments of two project series by Rimini Protokoll, Cargo Sofia X/ Cargo Asia and Ciudades Paralelas – Parallel Cities. through rejecting and going beyond conventionalised scenographic practices in favour of the negotiation of an agonistic model of public space (Chanta Mouffe), both project series make spatial policy visible and negotiable. Cargo and Ciudades Paralelas will be discussed as examples of scenographic productions of space through self-organised and resistant spatial practices.
Brejzek, T. & Wallen, L. 2014, 'Artistic Research - Collateral Damage or Epistemological Tool? Writing from the Inside of Practice' in Ravelli, L. & Paltridge, B. (eds), Doctoral Writing in the Creative and Performing Arts, Libri, Faringdon UK, pp. 219-234.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Brejzek, T. 2013, 'The Dramatised City' in Burkle, S. (ed), Art Space City, Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin, pp. 186-190.
Brejzek, T. 2012, 'Scenography or: Making Space' in Aronson, A. (ed), The Disappearing Stage: Reflections on the 2011 Prague Quadrennial, Arts and Theatre institute Prague, CZ, Prague, pp. 14-23.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Brejzek, T. 2011, 'From Social Network to Urban Intervention: On the Scenographies of Flash Mobs and Urban Swarms' in Brejzek, T., Greisenegger, W. & Wallen, L. (eds), Space and Desire, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), Zurich, pp. 144-153.
The anthology addresses scenographic strategies in theatre, art and media
Brejzek, T. 2011, 'Szenografien des Ausnahmezustands (Scenographies of a State of Exception)' in Bohn, R. & Wilharm, H. (eds), Inszenierung und Vertrauen: Grenzgaenge der Szenografie, Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, pp. 245-262.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Moving through theatre and architecture in relationship to scenography the chapter positions the emerging field of scenography in the current debate within the spatial sciences.
Brejzek, T. 2006, 'Physicality and Virtuality: Memory, Space and Actor on the Mediated Stage' in Oddey, A. & White, C. (eds), The Potentials of Spaces: The Theory and Practice of Scenography & Performance, Intellect, Bristol UK, pp. 157-171.
Brejzek, T. 2015, 'Scenographies of State: The Staging of Democracy in the Performative Spaces of National and Transnational Parliaments I: Chandigarh', International Federation ofr Theatre Research (IFTR): Theatre and Democracy, University of Hyderabad, India.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Brejzek, T. & Wallen, L. 2014, 'Derealisation, Perception and Site: Some Notes on the Doppelgänger Space', PERCEPTION in Architecture: HERE and NOW, PERCEPTION in Architecture. HERE and NOW, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Berlin, pp. 2-10.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
In their German Dictionary from 1838, the brothers Grimm give an intriguing definition of the term Doppelganger as someone who 'is thought to be able to show himself at the same time in two different places' . Intriguing is this definition as it defies the popular notion of the Doppelganger as someone who looks just like another person, who is somebody's twin, or double. Rather than focus on the physiognomic aspects of the Doppelganger, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's dictionary entry proposes a shift toward a topological definition that in its consequence speaks of a person who is present and is seen in two different sites simultaneously.
This paper follows Grimm's initial orientation but turns it on its head by considering the Doppelganger phenomenon from the perspective of site, thus discussing such buildings that show themselves in two different places and expanding the field of observation to include such buildings that show themselves in two different places at different times. The phenomenon of the architectural double is investigated here in relation to 'what it does' rather than 'what it is', with the authors taking their cue, again, from the word itself, the German 'doppelt gehen' is the equivalent of the English 'double walking'. Rather than 'doppelt sein' (eng 'to be double'), the Doppelganger implies the action of walking, thus suggesting that a performative element is bound to the very existence of the double. The perception of the architectural double, with perception understood here as an active and cognitive process of our sense-making of the world, this paper argues, merges into the pronounced experience of a split presence where the architectural Doppelgangers are neither identical twins nor complete reconstructions, defined by difference and, possibly, constructed across several sites and temporalities.
Brejzek, T. 2014, 'Interior Constructions, or: the situation of the flesh (A. Artaud)', Situation: symposium and exhibition proceedings, Situation, Interior Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 84-85.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Brejzek, T. 2014, 'Stages of Disaster: On Stratification and Collapse', International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) 2014: Theatre and Stratification, University of Warwick, UK.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Brejzek, T. & Wallen, L. 2014, 'The 1:1 Architectural Model as Performance and Double', PROCEEDINGS, [in]arch international conference 2014, Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, pp. 95-105.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The Model as Performance
Generally, the architectural model is thought of as an expression of material exploration and experimentation, utopian ideas and speculative construction. Together with drawing, the model is the designer's main communication tool, and typically, the scaled-down model invites the viewer to look but forbids entry. The space that the scaled-down model suggests through abstraction and representation cannot be 'felt' (Merleau-Ponty), the full scale inhabitable model on the other hand elicits affective responses. And while the 'space physicality' (Husserl) of the 1:1 model remains a simulation, its potential for inhabitation makes it a temporary 'home' and the model space a strategically staged interior. The 1:1 model asks from the viewer to become a co-actor in the making of the model space, in the process completing a site-specific performative environment where exteriority and visuality are no longer privileged over interiority and haptic sense. This paper interrogates the 1:1 model as a performance of inhabitation and looks at the role of the full scale model in architecture exhibitions, ranging from Mies van der Rohe's 1927 and 1931 exhibitions, The Dwelling and The Dwelling of Our Time respectively to contemporary examples.
Key Words: architectural model, architectural doppelganger, exhibition, interior
Brejzek, T. & Wallen, L.P. 2013, 'Subject, Site and Sight: Freud and Tschumi on the Acropolis', Reverse Projections, Reverse Projections: Expanded Architecture at The Rocks, Broken Dimanche Press, Sydney, pp. 52-57.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
In 1904, diverted by circumstance to Athens rather than Corfu, the brothers Freud found themselves unhappy by the change in destination. Standing on the Acropolis, an uncanny thought had entered Freud's mind: `So does this all really exist like we have learned it at school?' The experience seemed one of unreality, and Freud categorized it as `A Disturbance of Memory' during which he observed himself as separating into himself and another whose perception of the situation was an entirely different one. Spectators in the theatre of Dionysos, or any other theatre, anywhere and at any time, are willing participants in the conspiracy of this double act of looking that produces the exact double consciousness, or: autoscopic experience, that Freud describes so persuasively. In architectural discourse, the consideration of autoscopy in conjunction with processes of reverse projection, argued here to be a performative practice that engages with site in a critical discursive manner, poses a counterpart to phenomenological positions that speak of the identity of body and self.
Brejzek, T. 2012, 'The Dramatized City: Urban Interventions and the Making and Re-making of Space', PSi#18: performance :: culture :: industry, University of Leeds.
PSi #18 Performance :: Culture :: Industry 27 June - 1 July 2012, Leeds The PSi #18 conference Performance: Culture: Industry was an initiative of the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds, UK, in partnership with sister schools in the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications, and Workshop Theatre in the Faculty of Arts. In association with partner arts organizations in Leeds and beyond, we worked to provide a programme of international and regional performance, Ludus Festival Leeds, to coincide with the conference, open both to delegates and to the denizens of Leeds. At the conference 530 academics, artists and other practitioners were brought together to debate, develop, contest and celebrate the relationships between culture, industry and performance â now, in the past, and in possible futures. The conference theme was developed to reflect and explore the complex interaction between âperformanceâ, âcultureâ and âindustryâ. And over the year of planning for the conference, the accelerating crisis in neoliberalism lent further urgency to the issues
Brejzek, T. 2016, 'Barely Hanging on: Goerg Buechner's Woyzeck at the Sydney Festival', The Conversation.
Preview of production of 'Woyzeck' at Sydney Festival Jan 2016
Catalogue Essay for the Exhibition Spolia*99 by Nora Okka in the Athens COnservatoire
This volume comprises short essays by 100 key thinkers on the state of the Bauhaus then and now.
Brejzek, T. 2014, 'Im Irrgarten der Szenografie. Beitraege zu Sprache und Ausdruck der theatralen Welt', Zeitschrift fuer Kulturphilosophie, Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg, pp. 188-190.
book review in academic philosophical journal