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Title: Life is a Play and the Museum is its Stage: Contemporary Immersive Performance in the Baroque Palace
Authors: Delia, Romina
Supervisors: Knell, Simon
MacLeod, Suzanne
Award date: 1-Apr-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This thesis investigates artistic and poetic interventions within historic buildings in Malta and elsewhere, exploring notions of subversion of the institutional messages and the ways history can be reconceptualised and questioned within the frameworks of established and authoritarian structures, using concepts of theatricality and performativity. The interpretation inside the Baroque Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta is revisited as a route into exploring the tensions as well as the collaborations that emerge when the performative worlds of the Baroque and the post-modern collide. The study highlights Baroque ephemeral ceremonies, when Valletta was transformed from a war machine into a spectacular theatre by the ruling Order of the Knights of St. John. It examines how Valletta developed into a performative European Baroque city, interpreting a macro-cosmos in a choreographed micro-cosmos. This provides a backdrop to the subsequent study of performance projects that have tried to inhabit, subvert and reframe theatrical statements of power. This thesis draws on theories of liminality and the liminoid, building upon recent research on immersion. It offers a discussion of the potential dual role of artists as political collaborators and producers of powerful images, as well as their role as drivers of institutional critiques and social actors capable of negotiating and creating critical spaces. In particular, it offers an in depth analysis of the poetic interventions of the Malta and UK based artist and theatre collectives: START, The Rubberbodies Collective, Theatre Anon, WildWorks and Punchdrunk. Ultimately this thesis contributes to a new historiography, one which highlights the significance of contemporary performances responding to historic sites. It concludes that Malta was and still is conforming to a wider European performance, and argues that the “Baroque” should be understood as a transhistorical state that has extended beyond its historical confines, taking on hybrid forms. It demonstrates that Baroque theories concerning the “concetto” have resonance in 21st century conceptual art, demanding a more active response from the viewer. This thesis contends that through performative fusions, liminal and liminoid realms are created, which produce dream-like experiences, stirring the emotions, and arguably provoking unconscious associations within the participant, potentially creating reflexivity, agency and change.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Museum Studies
Leicester Theses

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