The history of science is a history of women!
August 2019 will be devoted to two performance series of Berlin based artists Dafna Maimon and Dominique Hurth. The works of these artists deal with the biographies of important women in history who have been neglected or scandalized. The performances tell about outstanding scientific achievements as well as about personal life stories, about discrimination and resistance at universities, in hospitals and households. Traces of these histories appear in scientific objects, archival documents, press clippings and the distant but insisting voices of the protagonists. The works were created in dialogue with scientific perspectives from gender studies, philosophy and the history of science.
WARY MARY by Dafna Maimon
August 15th, 16th and 17th, 2019, at 7 p.m., duration about 60 min. (English), admission free, limited capacity
Dafna Maimon creates a surround performance set in the historical teaching facility of the veterinary theatre, built in 1790. Recalling the historical figure of Mary Mallon or ‘Typhoid Mary,’ a tabloid super-spreader who infected her employers, Maimon humorously explores both viral and psychological contagion. The social pressure on women to have children is pervasive; Maimon stages an absurdist situation in which the female body and psyche is shaped and stretched.
The piece is part of the performance series ASSEMBLE, curated by Adela Yawitz and Anna Gien. Maimon’s artistic research was developed in dialogue with TA T and academic perspectives on studies and biopolitics at the Humboldt-Universität.
SOUNDLESS VOICES, BITTEN TONGUES, HAPTIC HANDS by Dominique Hurth
August 31st, 2019, 7 p.m., 8.30 p.m. and 10 p.m., duration about 30 min. (German and English), Tickets for the Long Night of Museums
“In history, they stand for a general scientific progress; yet as instruments they only exist in the moment in which they fulfill a specific task. Thus, at the moment I look at them, the objects are not. Silent, dustless, functionless, they are preserved under glass and aren’t.” – Dominique Hurth
In her work "Soundless voices, bitten tongues, haptic hands", artist Dominique Hurth intertwines three object biographies with three women biographies, that have often been ignored or forgotten in official historiography. Lise Meitner (1878–1968), Elsa Neumann (1872–1902) and Lydia Rabinowitsch-Kempner (1871–1935) were three scientists that stand for ground breaking research in physics and microbiology: Meitner formulated the theory of nuclear fission, Rabinowitsch-Kempner described the transmission of tuberculosis. As women, they also stand for emancipation in the sciences. Neumann was the first woman in Berlin to receive a PhD in physics and Rabinowitsch-Kempner was the first woman to be appointed professor at the Berlin University, the precursor of Humboldt-Universität.
In her three-part performance, Hurth occupies the silence created by the void and lets the women and objects speak. She researched the biographies of scientific objects and her three protagonists in various archives. Among them were the collection of historical physical instruments at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin Adlershof, the archives of the Max Planck Society in Berlin Dahlem and the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge.
By using blown glass, Dominique Hurth has sculpturally transformed the objects for her performance. In this way, an induction foil, an ion tube and a series of pipettes get replicated and scaled up: air gets blown into the raw material in order to give it a form. It breathes through the material, a body alike, and it is air again that activates the objects through speech. For a moment the silent vessels gain voice, later return to the state of soundlessness. One usually bites a tongue to prevent oneself from saying something. Yet while activated, the sealed-off vessels explore what they can tell about the hands at the instruments in a speculative and polyphonic matter. The objects become subjects: they speak and act. They are being negotiated – being held, handled, spoken from.
"Wary Mary" by Dafna Maimon is part of the performance series ASSEMBLE. Curators: Adela Yawitz and Anna Gien, production assistant: Elsa Terenzani, performers: Rosalind Mason, Leah Katz, Emma Waltraud-Howes, scientific references: Kerstin Palm, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, press: Wayra Schübel. ASSEMBLE is funded by the Capital Cultural Funds, Berlin.
"Soundless voices, bitten tongues, haptic hands" by Dominique Hurth was created in cooperation with the Tieranatomisches Theater Berlin (2019). The script of the performance was developed in dialogues with the philosopher of technology Anne Lefebvre (ENS Paris-Saclay), the author Daniela Cascella (Sheffield Hallam University) and the cultural anthropologist Silvy Chakkalakal (Humboldt-Universität). Performers: Elliott Cennetoglu and Lina Campanella, production and research assistant: Zoé Thonet, curator Tieranatomisches Theater: Felix Sattler.
- English, German