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Narration and Embodiment – A Video Lecture Series



Narration and Embodiment – A Video Lecture Series brings together twelve short presentations by internationally active artists, scholars, and curators. Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Anne Duk Hee Jordan, David Teh, Eisa Jocson, Işıl Eğrikavuk, Kawita Vatanajyankur, Lins Derry, Mi You, Natasha Ginwala, Natasha Tontey, Sin Wai Kin and Ute Meta Bauer investigate materials, research questions, and provocations that pertain to both historic and contemporary narratives, examining the potential for collection, transmission, and worlding. The videos contribute to the project's broader inquiry into how embodied creative practices, such as performance, can unfold alternative narratives, practices of embodying histories and the transfer of embodied knowledge.

Narration and Embodiment – A Video Lecture Series is part of the research transfer project Circulating Narratives – Entangling Communities: Case Studies in Global Performance Art, which explores how diverse histories inform performative practices and shape communities as embodied knowledge. In collaboration with Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, the project accompanies the museum's exhibition Nation, Narration, Narcosis: Collecting Entanglements and Embodied Histories, curated by Anna-Catharina Gebbers with Grace Samboh, Gridthiya Gaweewong and June Yap, funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes and initiated by the Goethe-Institut, which opened in November 2021 in Berlin. The project primarily focuses on the intersections between Southeast Asian and so-called 'Western' performative practices, while addressing the blind spots in traditional historiography in 'the West', as well as the consequences of colonialism and relationships capable of advancing the deconstruction of the 'Western' canon. Conceiving the global cultural institutions of the future involves addressing the questions of how traces of history – embodied both in actual bodies and in artifacts in museum collections and archives – can be made visible, and how forms of memory can be both preserved and treated respectfully.

Programme: Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Siobhan Leddy, Annette Jael Lehmann, Lieselotte Schinzing
Organisation: Siobhan Leddy & Lieselotte Schinzing
EXC 2020 Temporal Communities, Freie Universität, Berlin
Research Area 2: Travelling Matters
Project: Circulating Narratives – Entangling Communities: Case Studies in Global Performance Art
Project Lead: Prof. Dr. Annette-Jael Lehmann

Anna-Catharina Gebbers & Lieselotte Schinzing

Broaden the Narrative

This conversation between the curator for international media and performance art at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Anna-Catharina Gebbers, and research assistant at the Cluster of Excellence Temporal Communities, Lieselotte Schinzing, is based on their common interest in the methodological approaches of Donna Haraway and Ursula Le Guin on Narration and Embodiment. Their conversation takes as a foundation the curatorial practice of Anna-Catharina Gebbers in specific anticipation for her upcoming exhibition, Nation, Narration, Narcosis, at the Hamburger Bahnhof, part of the research and exhibition project Collecting Entanglements and Embodied Histories. Initially from their own work environments, later together between artworks, they are opening up questions surrounding an art historical canon and ways to perhaps disrupt its exclusive rigidity through a cross-conceptual way of thinking, bringing together many influences and approaches. Anna-Catharina Gebbers explores the process of conceiving the exhibition as an example of such thinking and talks through two artworks by Joseph Beuys, as one of the starting points for the exhibition, but not its centre, embodying different stories by means of their materiality. Coming back from the detailed to conceiving an entirety, Ursula Le Guin and Donna Haraway come up as sparks to broaden this linear narrative of art history, towards a pluri-vocal exhibition, and staying calm through stirring up trouble.


Anna-Catharina Gebbers is a curator of the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. There she is responsible for international media and performance art collections, and has staged solo exhibitions by Anne Imhof and Julian Rosefeldt, as well as group exhibitions, such as Magical Soup: Media Art from the Collection of the Nationalgalerie, the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection im Hamburger Bahnhof and Loans. Essential to her curatorial practice are international collaborative projects like those seen in the exhibition chapter Making Paradise: Places of Longing from Paul Gauguin to Tita Salina (in collaboration with Grace Samboh and Enin Supriyanto) for Hello World: Revising a Collection (2018), or the upcoming research and exhibition project Collecting Entanglements and Embodied Histories (curated with Gridthiya Gaweewong, Grace Samboh, and June Yap, at MAIIAM/Chiang Mai, Galeri Nasional Indonesia/Jakarta, National Gallery Singapore, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, 2017–2022).

Lieselotte Schinzing is currently a research assistant at the project Circulating Narratives – Entangling Communities: Case Studies in Global Performance Art aspart of the Cluster of Excellence Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Context. She is also currently working towards a master’s in Culture and Media Management at the Freie Universität Berlin. Prior to this she worked at the gallery Annely Juda Fine Art, after completing her studies in History of Art at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she initially developed her interest for the epistemological approaches of cultural ‘myth-making’ and storytelling. As one of the co-presidents of the Visual Cultures Society during her time at Goldsmiths, she organised and curated events and exhibitions such as Curating Ideas with Dr. Irit Rogoff and Dr. Louis Moreno, and The Expanded City, investigating metropolitan narratives within cultural production.

Anne Duk Hee Jordan


The presentation by Anne Duk Hee Jordan reflects on the work Culo de Papa, on show during 2021 in the courtyard of the Humboldt Forum, as well as further investigations titled Disembodiment (2012). Here, the potato plant acts as a starting point to critically explore Prussia’s colonial history, weaving images of disembodiment together with personal experience to reveal environmental, demographic, and colonial processes. Jordan explores the plant’s dis-/embodiment throughout history and its role in imperial waves of exchange, such as the Columbian Exchange, a widespread movement of ideas, diseases, food and populations between the Americas, Europe, and West Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries.


Transience and transformation are the central themes in the work of Anne Duk Hee Jordan. Through movement and performance, Jordan gives materiality another dimension — she builds motorized sculptures and creates edible landscapes. Her sculptures are intended to draw the viewer into the present and open a dialogue between natural phenomena, philosophy and art. Her work is like an interactive fantasy play with knowledge and theories about the world and our souls. In the absence of concrete knowledge, fantasy runs riot. Jordan opens up doors to a universe where she humorously and romantically creates machines that juxtapose robotic consciousness with organic cyclic decay and life. She asks questions about ‘agency’ and encourages a change of perspective. She shifts the focus away from humans towards the entire ecology.

David Teh & Anna-Catharina Gebbers

The Story of the Curator

Curators David Teh and Anna-Catharina Gebbers discuss the narrations they embody when they play the role of their occupation, along with other roles they realise, having experienced living and working in and with different regions and places. David Teh describes changes in the history of curating and reflects on his experiences as a curator in Southeast Asia. Through exploring the exhibition landscape, he distinctly divides artist-run environments from those institutionalised, by also drawing on his book Artist-to-Artist: Independent Art Festivals in Chiang Mai 1992-1998, thereby questioning the place of production of contemporary art and the role the curator embodies in it. He notes the importance of the development and preservation of archives in Southeast Asia as something that is often singularly being done by artists themselves, their families and loved ones. Yet this can restrict it to a site as embodied knowledge. So, what does the curatorial role mean within the frame of global contemporary art? Rather than only looking at the beginning of non-institutional curating in North America and Western Europe, why not everywhere else, too? To begin to grasp such questions, specific histories and narrations that are embodied in a place need to be considered in more depth. Coming back to their roles, Teh briefly explores why he is not an art historian in the classical sense, while Gebbers gives a brief overview of the everyday tasks of a curator employed at an institution, from practice to theory, to paperwork and interspecies communications — as seen in her past and present exhibitions.


David Teh is a writer, curator and associate professor at the National University of Singapore, with a research focus on Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. His curatorial projects have included Unreal Asia (55. Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, 2009), Video Vortex #7 (Yogyakarta, 2011), TRANSMISSION (Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, 2014), Misfits: Pages from a Loose-leaf Modernity (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2017) and Returns (12th Gwangju Biennale, 2018). He is currently co-curating the 17th Istanbul Biennial (with Ute Meta Bauer and Amar Kanwar). David’s essays have appeared in Third Text, Afterall, ARTMargins, Theory Culture & Society and Artforum. His book Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary was published in 2017 by MIT Press, and he was co-editor (with David Morris) of Artist-to-Artist: Independent Art Festivals in Chiang Mai 1992-98 (2018), for Afterall's Exhibition Histories series.

Anna-Catharina Gebbers is a curator at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. There she has staged solo exhibitions by Anne Imhof and Julian Rosefeldt as well as group exhibitions like moving is in every direction. Environments – Installations – Narrative Spaces (2017), and Magical Soup: Media Art from the Collection of the Nationalgalerie, the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection im Hamburger Bahnhof and Loans (September 2020). Essential to her curatorial practice are international collaborative projects, like the current research and exhibition project Collecting Entanglements and Embodied Histories (curated with Gridthiya Gaweewong, Grace Samboh, and June Yap, MAIIAM/Chiang Mai, Galeri Nasional Indonesia/Jakarta, National Gallery Singapore, and Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, 2017–2022). Gebbers is a member of various commissions (including the acquisition commission of the Federal Art Collection and Neustart Kultur), and is a participating researcher of the transfer project Circulating Narratives – Entangling Communities: Case Studies in Global Performance Art.

Eisa Jocson

Corponomy Online

What narratives are embedded in Filipino bodies that precondition us for affective labour in the global service industry? Engaging such questions hijacks and unravels systems of labour and control both through and within colonised bodies. 

From pole and macho dancing to hostesses, princesses, superwomen and zoo creatures, Eisa Jocson’s body becomes an archive of performative labour techniques that unpack identity, class and gender formation, seduction politics and Filipino social mobility.


Eisa Jocson exposes body politics in the service and entertainment industry as seen through the unique socioeconomic lens of the Philippines. She studies how the body moves and what conditions make it move — be it social mobility or movement out of the Philippines through migrant work. In all her creations, capital is the driving force of movement pushing the indentured body into spatial geographies.

Eisa Jocson is a contemporary choreographer and dancer from the Philippines, trained as a visual artist, with a background in ballet. She has been commissioned by and toured extensively in major contemporary festival and biennials. 

Işıl Eğrikavuk

How to Write Stories with a Stranger/How to Tell Stories to a Stranger

Rooted in performance, writing and storytelling, Işıl Eğrikavuk's practice brings together dialogue-based community art practices with fiction and imagination. She works with the specific dynamics of the site, its inhabitants, history and politics and connects the outcomes of her research to her writing by creating imaginative, often humorous and satirical stories.

In this presentation, Eğrikavuk focuses on three performance works of hers. In a recent performance, Dear Fear (2019), she has worked together with a 'Jugendheim' (youth home) in a Berlin village, where young refugee boys are staying. In another performance in 2017, titled Pluto's Kitchen, she compares the exiting of Pluto from the planetary system to England's exit of the EU (Brexit) and a personal break up story, around a dinner table performance. In her 2012 work, Change Will Be Terrific, she proposes to bring the pyramids of Egypt, the Greek Parthenon and Palmyra in Syria to Istanbul's famous Taksim Square, to take part in a mock talk-show.


Işıl Eğrikavuk (PhD) studied Western literature at Boğaziçi University (Istanbul) and then completed her MFA in Performance Art at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) with the Koç Foundation scholarship. She earned her PhD in 2021 from Istanbul Bilgi University, with a thesis titled From A Political Protest to An Art Exhibition: Building Interconnectedness Through Dialogue-Based Art. Since 2017, she lives in Berlin and works as a faculty member at Berlin University of Arts (UdK), in the Media and Communication Department.

Kawita Vatanajyankur

Performing Textiles Series

In this video, Kawita Vatanajyankur explains her interactions with the world through her experiences during field studies, interviews, and sharing ideas with different communities and workers. She shares hidden mythologies, use of materials and colours behind the symbolism within the work and their relations to current oppression in the modern world of fast consumption — in particular, the exploitation of labourers. Vatanajyankur also discusses her individual embodied knowledge during the performances; the messages that are realised during the actions, reactions and the experiences in-between. Towards the end of the video, Vatanajyankur elaborates on why art is more powerful when it is outside of the art world.


Kawita Vatanajyankur has achieved significant recognition since graduating from RMIT University (BA, Fine Art) in 2011. In 2015, she was a finalist in the Jaguar Asia Pacific Tech Art Prize and was curated into the prestigious Thailand Eye exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London. In 2017, her work was shown at the Islands in the Stream exhibition in Venice, Italy alongside the 57th Venice Biennial, the Asia Triennial of Performing Arts at the Melbourne Arts Centre, as well as Negotiating the Future, The Asian Art Biennial Taiwan. In 2018, her works were part of the Bangkok Art Biennial. In 2019, Vatanajyankur held her largest museum show to date at the Albright Knox Art Gallery in New York.

Vatanajyankur has exhibited widely across Australia, as well as Asia, USA and Europe. Her work is held at the National Collection of Thailand and in museum collections, including Singapore Art Museum, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (Dunedin Art Museum), Maiiam Contemporary Art Museum, as well as university collections and private collections in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and America. She is currently represented by Nova Contemporary, Bangkok and Antidote Organisation, Australia.

Lins Derry

Where There is a Body, There is a Story

This presentation argues that where there is a body, there is a story, revealing how certain narratives are culturally emergent, despite any dramaturgical intent. By decoupling stories from storytelling like so, latent body narratives that underscore both performance and human-computer interaction are shown as interrelated. These non-linguistic and even non-linear narratives are understood to be foundational to embodied knowledge. As such, stages and computer interfaces are discussed as mediums for transferring and archiving this knowledge across analogue and digital domains. This parallelism makes it possible to bridge choreography with interaction design, as demonstrated in my research on choreographic interfaces. Peppered with questions throughout, last to be asked in the essay is: as new media is used to transfer embodied knowledge just as stages for millennia, what new narratives will surface — structurally in performance, personally for performers, and automatically for human and non-human (computer) observers?


Lins Derry is an artist and designer working in the domains of human-computer interaction, data visualization, and choreography. The body is often her site for investigation and intervention in the realms of design and performance. Derry's current work explores how choreographic interfaces can increase the kinetic and spatial interactivity between humans and technological systems. In addition, she researches how scientific datasets can inspire humanitarian responses via a performative process that she calls data embodiment. Presently, Derry is a researcher and Principal at metaLAB (at) Harvard, an experimental arts, humanities, and design lab comprising scholars, designers, artists, and technologists. With metaLAB, she researches how choreographic interfaces and data embodiment can be developed toward both functional and aesthetic ends.

In 2020, Derry graduated with distinction from the MDes program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Prior to this, she performed professionally with dance companies based in New York, San Francisco, and Montréal, including José Navas/Compagnie Flak. With these companies, she toured across North America, Europe, and Asia. Highlights included dancing at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Oslo Opera House. As a solo artist, Derry had the privilege of performing at Korea's Modern Dance Festival and the Beijing Dance Festival via her platform, Linsdans. Through Linsdans, she had the additional honour of teaching internationally and in higher education to a diversity of students.

Mi You

Embodying Earth in Eurasia

Narrative practice is an embodied practice connecting and (un)folding multiple timespaces. Mi You's research, teaching and curatorial work turns around Eurasian geographical imaginations. At once a geographical and geopolitical space, Eurasia offers rich narrative sources of mythologies, stories and tools of navigation — physically and metaphysically. With these, Eurocentric and nationalistic narratives are resisted by constantly mapping, remapping and unmapping. Technologies to-come fold ancient technology into the futuristic, and align the cosmos with the techne. The ontology of land, body, and the spiritual realm in the light of ever-unabating transformations are recast. In Mi You's practice, research lingers in life, while in the video, a narrative becomes an embodied enaction.


Dr. Mi You is an interim professor of Art and Economies at the University of Kassel/documenta Institute. Her academic interests are in new and historical materialism, performance philosophy, as well as the history, political theory and philosophy of Eurasia. She has worked internationally as a curator and is one of the curators of the 13th Shanghai Biennial (2020–2021). On the social front, she is the chair of committee on Media Arts and Technology for the transnational political NGO Common Action Forum.

Natasha Ginwala

Vignettes from Performing Lives

Natasha Ginwala's presentation explores the narrations, site-making and knowledges produced through the performing body. She suggests that performance has always been part of oral and living practices, outside the climate we know as the globalised art circuit. Artists have drawn inspiration and learnings from the ways in which stories are told, dramatised and passed on through a spectrum of performance traditions.

Some of these practices are not codified in a time-bound reality, but rather endure over centuries in an improvised, lyrical and communal manner. How may contemporary performance methods draw on those embodied knowledge systems, which accompany us from birth to death, rather than being particular to just one moment? Giving examples of artistic practices she has engaged with, Ginwala presents the work of Wu Tsang and Boychild, who create affective modes of call and response, floating between the personal and collective; Fred Moten and Stefano Harney's approach to study and fugitive intelligence; Venuri Perera's investigations into border regimes, the temporality of ritual and uneven violence of the gaze; Nikhil Cophra, who asks how the body cites itself and how citations from the landscape enter the living body, revisiting the past and present through roleplay; and a procession featuring several artists at the 13th Gwangju Biennale, Minds Rising, Spirits Tuning.


Natasha Ginwala is a curator, writer and editor based in Colombo and Berlin. Ginwala is associate curator at Gropius Bau, Berlin; artistic director of Colomboscope in Sri Lanka and the 13th Gwangju Biennial with Defne Ayas (2021). Ginwala has curated Contour Biennial 8, Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium and was part of the curatorial team of documenta 14, 2017. Since joining Gropius Bau in 2018, she has curated a number of exhibitions including survey shows of Bani Abidi and Akinbode Akinbiyi. Other recent projects include Shadow Circus at SAVVY Contemporary (with Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung); Arrival, Incision. Indian Modernism as Peripatetic Itinerary in the framework of Hello World. Revising a Collection at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, 2018; Riots: Slow Cancellation of the Future at ifa Gallery Berlin and Stuttgart, 2018; My East is Your West at the 56th Venice Biennial, 2015; and Corruption: Everybody Knows with e-flux, New York, 2015. Ginwala was a member of the artistic team for the 8th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, 2014, and has co-curated The Museum of Rhythm, at Taipei Biennial 2012 and at Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, 2016–17. Ginwala writes regularly on contemporary art and visual culture. Recent co-edited volumes include Stronger than Bone (Archive Books and Gwangju Biennial Foundation) and Nights of the Dispossessed: Riots Unbound (Columbia University Press).

Natasha Tontey

The Outcasted Entities and Non-Linguistic Narrative

This contribution examines Natasha Tontey's artistic practice in relation to the notion of outcasted entities, particularly cockroaches and stone in Minahasan Indonesian culture, approaching them through a non-linguistic mode of communication. While both the cockroach and stone culture in Minahasa are outcasted entities, they help her to reflect, to imagine, and to dwell with questions related to fear, stigma, and embodied knowledge.


Natasha Tontey is an artist working and living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Her artistic practice predominantly explores the fictional accounts of the history and myths surrounding 'manufactured fear.' In her practice, she observes any possibilities of other futures that are projected not from the perspective of major and established institutions, but a subtle and personal struggle of outcasted entities and beings. Her work has been shown at transmediale 2021, Kyoto Experiment 2021, Asian Film Archive (2021), Polyphonic Social by Liquid Architecture (2019), among others. In 2020, she received the HASH Award from ZKM and Akademie Schloss-Solitude and is currently a fellow for Human Machine of the Junge Akademie at Akademie der Künste Berlin 2021–2022.

Sin Wai Kin

Non-Binary Storytelling and A Dream of Wholeness in Parts

Storytelling is a human technology for the construction of objective knowledge, where man-made false dichotomies are created and naturalised. In their lecture, Sin Wai Kin discusses their research on queer methodologies for non-binary storytelling, and how it is embodied in their recent work, A Dream of Wholeness in Parts (2021).


Sin Wai Kin (fka Victoria Sin) is an artist using speculative fiction within performance, moving image, writing, and print to interrupt normative processes of desire, identification, and objectification. Sin uses drag as a practice of purposeful embodiment questioning the reification and ascription of ideal images within technologies of representation and systems of looking. Drawing from close personal encounters of looking and wanting, their work presents heavily constructed fantasy narratives on the often-unsettling experience of the physical within the social body.

Ute Meta Bauer

Embodied Knowledge

Ute Meta Bauer focuses on three exhibitions she either curated or co-curated at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, a national research centre of Nanyang Technological University. Bauer positions curatorial and artistic forms of inquiry as a means of engaging with knowledge that is embodied in materiality. The exhibitions, Tomás Saraceno. Arachnid Orchestra: Jam Sessions (2015), Trees of Life — Knowledge in Material (2018) and The Posthuman City – Climates. Habitats. Environments. (2019/2020) all investigate diverse forms of materiality from substantially different perspectives, such as the communication between spiders and their webs with other species; the ecosystem of indigo, lacquer, rattan, and mulberry; and the urban as a terrain of co-habitation of life-forms. Bauer poses questions such as: what kind of knowledges are we producing in artistic inquiries situated in spaces of the curatorial? How do they serve as a knowledge container? And how do exhibition displays communicate knowledge in different ways? What is embodied knowledge and what languages, what forms of exchange, do they constitute? Rather than considering the enlightenment as the period that has lit up the world, perhaps darkness, the darkness of the ocean or that in a spirit-house, equally contribute to the transmission of knowledge.


Ute Meta Bauer is a curator of exhibitions and presentations on contemporary art, film, video and sound that connect artistic work with other disciplines. Since 2013, Bauer has served as a professor at NTU School of Art, Design and Media and as founding director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, where she co-chairs the MA in Museum Studies and Curatorial Practice. Prior she was Dean of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, London, UK (2012/2013) and associate professor (2005-2023), MIT SA+P, Cambridge, MA, where she served as founding director of the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT).

She was a co-curator of Documenta 11 (2001–2002), in the team of artistic director Okwui Enwezor, artistic director of the 3rd Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art (2004). In 2015, she co-curated the US Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial with Paul Ha, director of the MIT List Centre for Visual Art, presenting eminent artist Joan Jonas. She currently serves as co-curator for the 17th Istanbul Biennial, alongside David Teh and Amar Kanwar and as curator of the Singapore Pavilion, 59th Venice Biennial, featuring artist Shubigi Rao. Between 2018 and 2021 she was an editor of Afterall – a Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry.