Photo: Rainer Iglar


Tanzporträt Harald Kreutzberg – 10 Posen (2014) consists of a performance, a specially devised bicycle stage, a performance video and collages and entails research into the now almost forgotten Austrian dancer Harald Kreutzberg (1902-1968), who was world-famous in his day. Kreutzberg was not only a dancer but also a choreographer, costume designer, film and theater actor, and had a talent for drawing – and was widely considered one of the most progressive representatives of the New German Dance: of international repute in the 1920s and 1930s it was a form of expressive dance developed by German dancer, choreographer and dance teacher Mary Wigman in whose dance school Kreutzberg took ballet lessons. As of the 1930s, Kreutzberg started on extensive tours that took him to the USA, round Europe to Russia, Japan and China. What role he played under the Nazis is unclear. Although he considered himself a cosmopolitan and had to hide his homosexuality, during this time he continued to be active as a dancer and actor, and at least in part let the Nazis use him as a cultural flagship, without however sharing their ideology. What has remained largely unknown is the fact that Kreutzberg owned a house in Seefeld in Tyrol, a haven that was also a place of artistic experimentation for him, as some historical photographs show. For Carola Dertnig, who herself grew up in Seefeld and who as a child heard that Kreutzberg often stayed there, this represents a starting point for her work as local aspects, individual biographies and international dance and performance history connect in it. In her investigation of Harald Kreutzberg, Dertnig draws on works in which she examines dance and choreography as integral parts of the history of art and performance. In a series of collages for instance, on which she has worked for several years and which are at the same time analytical research and poetic intensification, she explicitly deals with the role of dance as part of performance art, while the art historical relevance of the latter is also a gender-political one: “Iʼve been interested in dance history in relation to fine arts. Dance is a way women sort of snuck into the canon of art history. […] in the dance world, women were able to define their work, which then became part of performance art history.” In her analysis of Harald Kreutzberg Carola Dertnig brings a protagonist of dance and performance history back into public awareness whose achievements have been forgotten or neglected, however not for his gender but for his undefined and unaccounted for stance towards National Socialism. In Tanzporträt Harald Kreutzberg, Dertnig formally connects to the performances Again Audience (2012) and Tacheles Speech (2013). As in these works, her new performance makes use of a mobile speaker’s stage, the flexibility of which she further increases by combining it with a bicycle. She opens the performance by cycling to a public space in front of the gallery, turning even the act of setting up the mobile stage into part of the performance. Architectural and political-historical reference point for the one-person stage, which can be set up and dismantled in a few simple steps and which consists of a banister all the way around, a blackboard for writing on and a pull-out lattice fence, is the model for a speaker’s stage designed by Alexander Rodchenko in the 1920s for a (never built) worker’s club. Dertnig’s main interest in Rodchenko’s concept of a mobile speaker’s stage lies in his intention, of “creating a socially unrestricted space for education and fostering active participation in artistic, social, and political issues.” The delivery bike into which the stage is integrated then stands for a form of mobility based on the availability of simple, humble means within the reach and that is easily and quickly practicable using one person’s strength. The bicycle as non-motorized vehicle per se stands in contrast to industrialization as well as currently evidently more profitable but ecologically questionable means of transportation. To Dertnig, the hybrid of bicycle and stage not only represents the space of her performance but at the same time a kind of performative archive, with which she wants to create awareness of a forgotten and contradictory artist of the avant-garde.


Jürgen Tabor

Performance, 23. 05. 2014, Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck

Bühnenrad / Stage bike: Lastenfahrrad / cargo bike, 208 x 85 cm; Box: 88 x 62 x 36 / 50 cm;

Entwurf / design: Peter Kalsberger, Wien / Vienna
Maske: Helene Valentini
Kostüm: Nachlass Christiane Dertnig
Hut: Hutsalon Viktoriya
Plakat zu Score: Arnold Roman Müller, Maße: Din A0 Collage, Maße variabel / dimensions variable
HD Video, Farbe, Ton / colour, sound; Kamera, Schnitt / camera, editing: Katharina Cibulka, Innsbruck
Fotos: Rainer Iglar
Courtesy Galerie Andreas Huber, Wien / Vienna
Dank an: Helmut Dertnig, Angelika Trawöger und der Galerie im Taxispalais