Althea Thauberger: Marat Sade Bohnice
January 16 - March 8, 2014
Althea Thauberger’s Marat Sade Bohnice is a video installation that centres on the staging of Peter Weiss’ 1963 play Marat/Sade at the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital in Prague. Her work documents the reconfiguration and presentation of the play in this location to audiences of the institution’s patients and staff, and in doing so approaches layered issues of reassessment and (de)institutionalization within shifting political terrains.
The original 1963 play imagines that the Marquis de Sade wrote and directed a play about the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat while the former was interned in France’s Charenton asylum in 1808, nineteen years after the beginning of the French Revolution and immense institutional reform. It was the beginning of reformed mental illness treatment - from punishment to therapy - and in the 1963 play, the inmates enact the drama both as themselves as patients and as historical characters. The play reveals an ongoing debate about whether the imperatives of revolution originate within the individual or within society as a whole.
While the original play is set in Charenton’s bathhouse, Thauberger’s production took place in the decommissioned waterworks and laundry facilities of Bohnice, another post-revolutionary institution and the largest psychiatric clinic in the Czech Republic. Her video documentation of the play is punctuated by interviews with staff and patients of the institution that function to disrupt the play’s narrative and specifically situate it. Like Charenton, Bohnice is an institution through which broader structural, ideological and economic societal shifts can be read: it privatized its core services shortly after the Velvet Revolution and it is in the beginning stages of deinstitutionalization. Thauberger produced the play in collaboration with Akanda, an experimental theatre company in Prague.
Marat Sade Bohnice approaches philosophical and art histories, questions art’s agency and its role within therapy, as well as troubles the systems of human (un)freedom. Shown in Vancouver for the first time, the work can be read beside the conditions of deinstutionalization in the city. Consistent with Thauberger’s practice, in which she often works with seemingly marginal groups through which larger societal structures may be examined (such as a Kashmiri theatre group, new mothers in Copenhagen, San Diego military wives, Canadian tree planters, Canadian women in uniform deployed in Afghanistan, male youth in the German civil service, minority-language poets in Italy and resident artists of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside), the project Marat Sade Bohnice creates a space of expression and self-presentation for her collaborators, and reveals social and political issues without assuming an entrenched critical position.
Thauberger’s work has been shown widely including at The Power Plant, Toronto; the 7th Liverpool Biennial; The 17th Sydney Biennial; The 3rd Gaungzhou Triennial; Manifesta 7, Trento, Italy; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver; Vancouver Art Gallery; BAK, Utrecht; Kunstverein Wolfsburg; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax; Singapore History Museum; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp; Berkeley Art Museum; Insite, San Diego/Tijuana; White Columns, New York; Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Artspeak, Vancouver; and Seattle Art Museum. She recently presented at the 2013 Creative Time Summit in New York. She studied at Concordia University (BFA) and University of Victoria (MFA).
Curated by Melanie O'Brian with Amy Kazymerchyk.
Wednesday, January 15, 7pm
Artist Talk: Althea Thauberger
Wednesday, January 15, 6pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Simon Fraser University
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
No Looking After the Internet: Helen Reed, Body Techniques
Wednesday, February 5, 6pm
Sociologist Marcel Mauss used the term “techniques of the body” to describe a background level of learned social behaviour about the “proper” use of the body. By slipping between time periods, institutional frameworks and social contexts, Marat Sade Bohnice excavates the accumulation of these implicit techniques. Addressing those themes, Helen Reed will discuss multiplicity and mimesis in Thauberger’s work. An ongoing series of talks, No Looking After the Internet prompts the close reading of images and objects, and encourages visual literacy through sustained private and public attention in the gallery.
Exhibition Tour: Melanie O’Brian
Saturday, February 22, 1pm
Join us for a tour of the exhibition led by Curator and SFU Galleries Director, Melanie O’Brian. Afterward, walk with us to the Satellite Gallery for a 2pm tour of works from the collection of Michael O’Brian, led by curators Cate Rimmer, Keith Wallace, Karen Duffek and Helga Pakasaar. Then continue to Contemporary Art Gallery for a 3pm tour of projects by Aurélien Froment and Tim Etchells, led by CAG Director Nigel Prince.
Panel Discussion: The Madness of History: Situating Marat Sade Bohnice in Time and Space
Wednesday, March 5, 6pm
Please join us for a panel discussion about Thauberger’s production of Marat Sade Bohnice, presented in collaboration with the SFU Institute for the Humanities. Considering the exhibition of Marat Sade Bohnice in the context of Vancouver, the panel will address Peter Weiss’ life and practice; the Foucauldian themes of madness and the carceral; the histories of de-institutionalization and mental health reform in British Columbia; and the critical value of cultural intervention and social engagement in institutional programming.
Please check our new website at www.sfugalleries.ca for further information about the panel.