Upon the place beneath

Claudia Kappenberg

Research output: Non-textual outputPerformance


Crossing staged dance performance with live art and sound art practices, these performances constitute a hybrid that questions the consumption of art and critiques a capitalist framework which assumes art to underpin an aesthetics of beauty, perfection and wealth. Upon the Place beneath (2008), Still Life with Cabbage (2012) and Cabbage Heads (2012) were commissioned by the Soundwaves Festival, Brighton, as interdisciplinary interventions within a sound art festival. Formally the projects mimic dance traditions of movement-based work that is performed in unison, with performers in costume and in a designated performance area to an invited public. Parading as dance they do however invert the traditional hierarchies, which would privilege movement over and above image and sound and instead surrender the choreographic form to the creation of sound. As in Kappenberg’s earlier works such as ‘Extreme Ironing’ (Darmstadt 2007) and ‘Flush, or the possibility of moving towards an impossible goal’ (Geneva 2002/ London 2004, 2005) the recent projects deliberately perform minor acts with simple, everyday materials. Designed to embrace notions such as excess, waste, loss and disability the performances constitute a visual and sonic exploration of the entropic. The work tests the proposition of French philosopher George Bataille, who explored base materials and the formless in literature as a means of challenging traditional hierarchies of value in Art and Society. As a performance practice the work further builds on the Italian Arte Povera movement of the 60s and 70s, in which artists deliberately refused the use of precious materials in their art in resistance to a booming consumer culture. ‘Upon the Place beneath’ worked with physical restriction placing five performers in conventional buckets, gradually dropping pulses and seeds from wide-brimmed hats into a series of found, domestic vessels to create a curious symphony of small noises and resonances. Inspired by Beckett's insistence on the almost nothing the performance lets the banal, ad hoc and chaotic take their place amongst the permanent, stable and fixed. The premiere at the Soundwaves festival in Brighton (2008) and performances in Ireland (2008) and at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich, London (2009) led to a second commission in 2012. The starting point for Still Life with Cabbage was the tradition of Foley artists who use cabbages for the simulation of violent fight scenes and decapitation. This suggested an unexplored potential for a playfully heroic performance well suited to an all female cast in smart dresses and heals. The cabbage was brought centre stage to produce all kinds of physical challenges, awkward movement and ungainly poses in a refusal of traditional aesthetics and social values. The intervention Cabbage Heads combines the sculptural potential of the round, red and white cabbages in a durational performance whereby females are alternatively buried in piles of cabbage or emerge from their piles whilst slowly migrating through the space of the University cafeteria in an attempt to blur the boundaries between art production, kitchen duties and food consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2008
Eventother - University of Brighton, Brighton UK 25th June 2008; Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Eire 14th November 2008; Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, Eire 16 November 2008; The Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich, London 26th June 2009
Duration: 25 Jun 2008 → …


Dive into the research topics of 'Upon the place beneath'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this