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Katharina Alsen

Katharina Alsen

Freie Universitaet Berlin

PhD Candidate

Global Humanities Junior Fellow at The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Katharina Alsen holds a master's degree in art history from the University of Oxford, and a state certificate (MA equiv.) in literature, theology and philosophy from the University of Hamburg. Her studies were funded by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
She is a PhD candidate at Freie Universität Berlin, and was a fellow of the international research training group "InterArt" in Berlin and Copenhagen. Within this programme, she was awarded a scholarship from the German Research Association (DFG) to pursue her dissertation. Entitled 'Staged intimacy. Transgressions of the private in theatre and exhibition space', the project grapples with immersive performance formats and curatorial concepts of intimacy. Her research focuses on the performing and visual arts in Northern Europe, and intersections of art and science. Research stays led her to Copenhagen, Reykjavík, Stockholm and Tórshavn in the Faroes.
Her publications include: Bruch – Schnitt – Riss. Deutungspotenziale von Trennungsmetaphorik in den Wissenschaften und Künsten (ed.), Berlin: LIT 2014, and Nordic painting. The rise of modernity, New York: Random House 2016.

Staged Intimacy. Transgressions of the Private in Theatre and Exhibition Space

In her PhD project, Katharina Alsen examines immersive performance formats, one-on-one performances and exhibitory encounters in private homes against the backdrop of theories of intimacy. Within this scope, she is interested in potentials and paradoxies of interactive theatre in which the activated spectator turns into a ‘spect-actor‘. The crucial question whether the immersive paradigm enhances or – by contrast – limitates the spectator‘s agency is discussed in light of different concepts of performativity and criticism of participatory art.
Case studies include performance-installations such as the site-specific works by Danish collective SIGNA. They confront the spectator with hyperrealistic scenographies, physical transgression and strategies of forced intimacy, and scrutinize the potential of self-reflexivity and processes of subjectivation. Katharina‘s research focuses on the question of how intimacy can serve as an analytical tool for today‘s aesthetics of experience in theatre and exhibition space.