“…The artist is present at the birth of Berlin’s new contemporary dance centre, an institution that will certainly come to play a part in shaping and organizing the dynamic of the city’s dance community…”

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Video-event-work / durational performance

Transformance is a video-event-work that activates and documents a five month durational performance. Over this period of time, Nina Kurtela establishes a daily practice of visiting and witnessing the changes at the building site of the Uferhallen, Wedding, Berlin. She is spectator to the making of an institution, an art institution, the making of the theatre stage. The camera acts as a witness to her performing/witnessing. The piece emerges as a case study of an individual subject’s encounter with the radical transformations of social structures and operative models within the performing society. The artist is present at the birth of Berlin’s new contemporary dance centre, an institution that will certainly come to play a part in shaping and organizing the dynamic of the city’s dance community. The work emerges in the forcefield of a commitment to the daily execution of present-ness in relation to the specific context where this act takes place: the building site of the theatre. What unfolds is a 6-minute work with multi-faceted implications. The body is rendered a statue through the changes of time. The screen becomes the performing skin.


During the period between 22.02.10 and 07.08.10 i will be taking, every working day, around 100 frame-photos of myself. Duration performance will take place in the space that will be reconstructed from old BVG storage place into a dance stage. The performance will finish when the stage is done.


“If we are living a radical transformation of the experience of event, implying redistribution of the dispositions of power, representation and actualization of experience, the demand for an ontology of performance is urgent. It is not a demand for a reduction of the event – the uncontrollable irruption of contingency – to the archaic matrix of ontology, but a critical necessity, which we experience today more physically than ever: our prostheses are going ahead of us, sensitive and senseless like a skin, or a screen”

Transformance: the body of event, Boyan Manchev


The concept of Transformance is primarily based on relation between body, an execution of performance, within a context of architectural transformation that will take shape in form of experimental film like as an autonomous work for it self.

It is an attempt to make a case study of the radical transformation of the social structures and operative models within “the performing society” (societe du spectacle) and the ways in which these interplay with the individual subject. In the case of this piece, the materiality of the transformation is manifested through an architectural and corporal transformation. I propose a research largely related to the concept of Transformance as articulated by Boyan Menchev.

Transformance/ transubstanciation resists the separation of form and substance. And indeed this attempt is made within the work. The research proposal therefore assumes an appropriation of practices and methods from one genre of artistic creation and transforming these as tools to be used within a different medium. Thus the project takes place as activation of the emergent spaces between the genres of dance, performance, video and architecture.

The environmental impact of the homosapiens being society and the dynamic sculpture that emerges from the interplay of a society that organizes itself largely through installing institutions and the subject.
The case study for this Transformarnce is the durational event of individual body witnessing the transformation of an architectural space (Uferhallen) as an example of a broader dynamic.

The project procedure

The core of the work is a daily based photo/video documentation of a durational performance that takes place in the old BVG storage buildings in Berlin, Wedding – The uferhallen. The former train-repair spaces are being transformed into Berlin’s dance centre/theatre.

The project was conceived via documentation using photo camera. Camera was installed in fixed position trough the whole time of the reconstruction works (5 months) and was daily, frame-by-frame, witnessing the transformation of the raw space into an arts institution – THE Berlin Dance Centre, with the subject, a performer inside of it. Every day there was around 200 frames documented in different time periods.

The performer’s body acts as witness to the changes, inverting the proper ephemerality of the singular body in relation to its environment. Five months of shooting resulted with an approximately 10min long motion animation video. To be more specific, the chosen location was transformed from an old warehouse to a theater stage and trough the time of radical change performer’s body dealt both with environmental consequences and unpredictability of procedure in relation to the architectural site and thus acted in correspondence to it. The performance finished when the stage was done, when performer finally find it self on stage.

Two levels were created of physical movement trough time; one relating to the real time (construction works) and the other corresponding specifically to alliance between body movements and captured frames trough camera were building different dynamics and references within the work.

What unfolds is a video-event-work with multifaceted implications. A performance that is devoted to the physical execution of a daily-based action in relation to the specific context where the execution takes place: the architectural site, the building, the institution, the making of an art institution, the theater.

Furthermore, the project is related to archiving, memory, re-presentation and ephemerality. I am interested in the shift of the archival into artistic object. The moment when documentation becomes the art-piece in itself.

The notion of memory related to the change of the environment where the body is placed at the same time like a receiver/spectator, a witness and like a transmitter/performer. Body like a statue trough the time of change.

Text by Nina Kurtela and Alexander Baczynski-Jenkins