Theatricalising terrorism: Johann Kresnik’s Ulrike Meinhof and the Red Army Faction

Kolb, Alexandra (2009) Theatricalising terrorism: Johann Kresnik’s Ulrike Meinhof and the Red Army Faction. About Performance (9) . pp. 127-148. ISSN 1324-6089 [Article]


This article considers the relationship between terrorism and the performative act, taking the campaigns of the German RAF and associated New-Left groups as a historical paradigm. The opening theoretical section compares the analysis of terrorist practices in terms of theatricality or spectacle with the ascription of terroristic attributes to certain performance genres. A detailed case study of "Ulrike Meinhof" (1990/2006) by the Austrian choreographer and avowed communist Johann Kresnik examines his revisionist depiction of 1970s left-wing violence, which depicts the state authorities rather than the RAF guerrilla movement themselves as the principal perpetrators of terror in West German society. Kresnik’s harsh and sensational choreographic style, characterised by frequent use of crude and violent imagery, seems designed to reflect both the mindsets of the activists concerned and the artist’s own view of the state and economic structures they sought to overthrow. The contrast between the strongly critical press and public response to Kresnik’s piece in 1990, with a more sympathetic reaction to its restaging in 2006, might indicate a changing perception of historical left-wing extremism over the intervening period.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
Item ID: 8626
Depositing User: Alexandra Kolb
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2012 08:10
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2017 14:55

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