Dr Thea Brejzek is Professor for Spatial Theory at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and a Director of the IKEA X UTS FUTURE LIVING LAB. Thea is the Co-Director of the Joint PhD program ‘Critical Spatial Thinking: Performative Practices and Narrative Spaces in Design’ in collaboration with the Architecture Faculty at Technical University Berlin (TU). From 2007 to 2012 she was a Professor of Scenography at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), Switzerland.
Thea Brejzek is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Bauhausfoundation Dessau and Associate Editor of the Routledge Journal, Theatre and Performance Design. She has been Visiting Professor at Bartlett School of Architecture, London, is a Research Fellow at TU Berlin and in 2017 has been awarded a Bogliasco Foundation Research Fellowship. Thea publishes and lectures widely on the history and theory of scenography and performative environments with a particular interest in atmospheric spatial conditions and transdisciplinary practices.
Member Scientific Advisory Board, Bauhaus Dessau
Associate Editor, Theatre and Performance Design, Routledge Journal
Member Scenography Working Group IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research)
Member Theatre Architecture Working Group IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research)
Can supervise: YES
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
The Model as Performance investigates the history and development of the scale model from the Renaissance to the present. Employing a scenographic perspective and a performative paradigm, it explores what the model can do and how it is used in theatre and architecture. The volume provides a comprehensive historical context and theoretical framework for theatre scholars, scenographers, artists and architects interested in the model's reality-producing capacity and its recent emergence in contemporary art practice and exhibition.
Introducing a typology of the scale model beyond the iterative and the representative model, the authors identify the autonomous model as a provocative construction between past and present, idea and reality, that challenges and redefines the relationship between object, viewer and environment.
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Built around four case studies of intensive design studios, led by the authors and several collaborators at the Bauhaus Dessau with Interior Architecture and Architecture students from Sydney and Berlin between 2015 and 20181, this article asks whether and how, not only the architecture and design produced at the historic Bauhaus but also its pedagogical legacy can be made relevant for today's design education. In particular, it outlines and argues for the value of performative strategies being developed and utilized in studio teaching when working from a historical precedent as a means to activate interior space through bodily action and thus transport the Bauhaus spirit of living and working together into the here and now.
Dincer, D, Brejzek, T & Wallen, L 2019, 'Designing the Threshold: A Close Reading of OlafurEliasson's Approach to 'Inside' and 'Outside'', Interiority, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 43-61.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This article discusses Icelandic installation artist Olafur Eliasson's
approach of the threshold as a productive liminal space rather
than as a static boundary between the inside and the outside. Often
defined as the physical division between the interior and the exterior
in architecture, the authors argue that by looking at Eliasson's works
in detail, the threshold's inherent capacity of comprising a dynamic
dialogue between inside and outside where one is determined by the
other, unfolds. This paper proposes that designing the relationships
between inside and outside involves subtle renegotiations and
redefinitions of conventionalised notions of their boundaries and a
resultant emergence of new design strategies.
Eliasson designs thresholds in diverse ways that he analyses and
provokes the spatial associations between inside and outside, interior
and exterior. While in Eliasson`s work the categories of inside and
outside remain mutually exclusive, they physically co-exist at the same
time; deliberately refracted, juxtapositioned, connected or confounded
in an experimental yet rigorous approach that employs different scales
and common characteristics. Seventeen of his works are analysed and
grouped into four different threshold design strategies that result in an
object, an association, an event and an immersive space.
Brejzek, T & Wallen, L 2018, 'Cosmopoiesis, or: making worlds. Notes on the radical model worlds of Anna Viebrock', Theatre and Performance Design, vol. 4, no. 1-2, pp. 7-22.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This article discusses the cosmopoietic or world-making capacity of scenographic models in relation to German scenographer Anna Viebrock's selected stage set exhibitions (Avignon, 2010; Basel, 2011) and her recent collaborative installation project at Venice's Prada Foundation (2017). It is argued that Viebrock's architectural stage sets fulfil the central characteristics of models, namely a reduction in complexity and a selective omission or rendering of detail, as well as presenting the material realization of a concept or idea. This article posits that in her exhibitions, Viebrock uses scale to immerse the viewer into two very different model worlds: the controlled and seemingly controllable world of the small-scale and the enterable architecture of the 1:1 scale. The authors conclude that Viebrock's models and stage sets present 'weak scenographies' (see Solà-Morales' notion of a 'weak architecture') in their anti-monumental approach and aesthetics and the subsequent radical exposure of the postmodern subject as unhoused in architecture.
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: 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: 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 2018, 'Scenery' in Aronson, A (ed), The Routledge Companion to Scenography, Routledge, Oxon, New York, pp. 33-41.
In a general understanding, scenery locates the dramatic action on the stage in time and space and provides a physical and symbolic framing of events, thus operating as the driving visual force of the overall performance. Scenery may attempt to replicate reality through landscape elements, architectural structures, and interiors, or it can be comprised entirely of abstract configurations or immaterial elements such as projections.
Scenery has functioned in widely different ways throughout theatre history. Extended towards heaven and the underworld in the Baroque, excessively detailed during nineteenth-century naturalism, and generally held in contempt by the historical avant-garde, scenery has had a recent comeback. The resurgence of practicable rooms, functional detail, and found objects on the stage warrants a new look at the history and present of scenery, its functions and potentialities, its varying relationship to reality and to the spectator, and at the different approaches developed to "read" scenery.
The question of the treatment of reality in the theatre, namely through mimesis or artistic representation, has been heatedly discussed since Plato's denigration of mimetic practices as imitations of reality that are far removed from knowledge and thus inferior (Republic, Book 10) and Aristotle's subsequent defense, in his Poetics, of mimesis as an inherent human desire enabling catharsis. The attribution of relevance, function, and merit of mimetic realism over abstract expressive or symbolist scenery has moved through several shifts throughout theatre history and can be seen to be one of the leitmotifs of scenographic practice, thought, and innovation.
Brejzek, T 2018, 'The Artist's Studio and the Scientist's Laboratory, Or: Some Observations on Spaces of Experimental Epistemology' in Burkle, S (ed), Studio + Laboratory: Workshops of Knowledge, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Berlin, pp. 41-43.
Whether in works of art or in scientific research, only the results of the creative process have been visible in both art and science. What happens behind closed doors in labs and studios remains as invisible as it is mysterious.
Brejzek, T & Haeusler, MH 2018, 'Oberflaechenaesthetik und Raumtiefe. Die Medienfassade zwischen allopoietischer Realitaet und autopoietischer Vision [Surface Aesthetics and Depth of Space. The Media façade between allopoietic reality and autopoietic vision]' in Guenzel, S (ed), Mediale Räume, Kadmos, Berlin, pp. 93-108.
This chapter discusses how the new field of 'media architecture' is able to transgress traditional hierarchies between surface and structure and between scenography and tectonics to create new urban textures and spaces through the integration of media technology, media content and built architecture in a field where previously the sheer surface of the façade operated. The authors rally against the current and all-pervasive allopoietic reality of the media façade that consistently produces something different to itself, and instead for the development and implementation of self-creating and autopoietic systems of media architectures that produce and act contextually, interactively and out of themselves. It is shown that the traditional media facade operates as a medial alien body, attached to the outer skin of a building and thus operating as both parasite and masque. Following on from Perrella's theory of the hypersurface, a kind of liquid architecture that is able to transcend the dichotomy between form and surface, body-subject and building (Perrella 1995), the authors discuss how the interactive space of the hypersurface adds to the complexity of a readability of the city. The chapter demonstrates the technological and conceptual development of the media face from its early beginnings (Nitschke 1934-36) and argues for a contemporary, architectural analogy of the biological notion of the productive cross talk between organism and parasite as a cross talk between the interior of a building and its outer shell. A new four step future model of the emergent genre of media architecture is developed by the authors that is centred around an autopoietic design process, that is able to develop a virus-like infiltration of the urban body in a bundle of information-giving and information-communicating medial instruments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brejzek, T 2014, 'Stages of Disaster: On Stratification and Collapse', International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) 2014: Theatre and Stratification, University of Warwick, UK.
Brejzek, T & Wallen, L 2014, 'The 1:1 Architectural Model as Performance and Double', PROCEEDINGS, [in]arch international Conference, Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, pp. 95-105.
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, LP 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.
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
Brejzek, T 2015, 'Space and Spolia: From Topos to Tritopoi', Spolia*99, Athens Conservatoire, Athens, pp. sp-sp.
Catalogue Essay for the Exhibition Spolia*99 by Nora Okka in the Athens COnservatoire
Brejzek, T 2015, 'Spatial Practice. Schlemmer', Bauhaus News Contemporary REmarks, Spector Books, Leipzig, pp. 143-144.
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
Brejzek, T 2013, 'Raumbildend: Licht als szenisches Gestaltungsmittel [Space-forming: light as a scenic design element]', Lightopia, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, pp. 47-62.