Embodying Expression, Gender and Charisma – Breaking Boundaries
This artistic research project is funded by the Austrian Science Funds as project AR 749-G. The runtime will be three years and four months starting in August 2022.
Below, you will find the ABSTRACT and further below some information on a PILOT PROJECT
Prof. Dr. Barbara Lüneburg (PI), sociologist Dr. Kai Ginkel (post- doc), and violinist Diamanda La Berge Dramm (doctoral candidate) investigate the embodiment of expression, gender, and charisma in a performer’s practice in Western classical instrumental concert practice via methods of artistic research and sociology of practices.
The team explores the importance of a performer’s body as a determinant of musical expression, gender, and charisma by investigating a performer’s embodied techniques and bodily routines from intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives. Research objectives are ‘the constitution of expression, gender and charisma in a performer’s embodied techniques and bodily work,’ ‘the social embeddedness of instrumental practice,” and the “(de)construction of gender and charisma through artistic creation and practice.’
In our investigation we address the domains of instrumental performance practice and includes embodiment, gender, and charisma, as well as artistic research as an epistemological practice and interdisciplinary methodology.
In a dual research design, we employ methods and theories of artistic research (AR) including performance and creation, and of sociology of practices (SoP). Three approaches will be taken: (1) practice-based AR through the application of Lüneburg’s ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’ method,
(2) AR and SoP to investigate the social embeddedness of instrumental performance practice, and (3) AR through creation to translate research findings into artworks for a multimodal exhibition and performance for violin and multimedia. Biannual work labs with artists and scholars from thematically related disciplines will complement the ongoing work.
What is the degree of originality and innovation?
Innovation of classical instrumental performance practice: With the method ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’ we offer a tool to break habitual routines in instrumental performance practice and re-construct modes of expression and performative identity. We question the socio-cultural system surrounding this practice and generate more diverse values around the field of classical performance practice.
Original artworks: We create a series of artworks, interdisciplinary performances, and documentaries that (de-)construct the themes of ‘embodiment’, ‘expression’, ‘gender’, and ‘charisma’. We will communicate knowledge beyond the boundaries of traditional classical performance through digitized dissemination formats.
Innovative methodology: In the discipline of classical instrumental practice, we offer a new methodological approach to the topic of ‘embodiment’ with the ‘Re-enacting Embodiment Method’; we develop interdisciplinary methods to expand the epistemic horizon of the two main disciplines involved.
Artistic Research based on Practice: The method of ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’
Pilot Project: Testing the method 'Re-Enacting Embodiment' on Eugène Ysaÿe's Ballade
BL currently pursues a pilot study. The set up of the pilot study will be explained following different steps. The steps refer to the method described below).
Step 1: For her pilot study she chose Ysaÿe’s Violin Sonata No. 3 Ballade of which there are two different audiovisual documentations of famous soloists –a male and a female– are available: Maxim Vengerov and Hilary Hahn.
Step 2: Barbara Lüneburg documented her personal interpretation of Ysaÿe's Ballade in a first version.
Step 3: After first working on her personal interpretation of the Ballade, she will next re-enact two interpretations of the same work by a male and a female soloist (Maxim Vengerov and Hilary Hahn) which are both available as YouTube videos. She first separates the audio track from the visual image to analyse the audio interpretations in detail, and then reproduces the audio as precisely as possible with her own repertoire of embodied techniques. This process is currently pursued by her.
Step 4: In a further, more extreme step, she re-enacts the visual interpretation embodied in arm movements, gestures, facial expressions and postures of the individual soloists as seen in the YouTube videos (step 4). While recreating the visual body language as precisely as possible, she closely observes her body and its role in the formation and reproduction of expression and gender.
Step 5: She reflects on how embodying another person's interpretation and body language changes and shapes her knowledge of her personal embodied techniques. This will be reflected in research journals, on the research catalogue and in a later stage of the project through artworks.
Step 6: After the re-enactment experiences she renews her personal interpretation and audiovisual documentation of the Ballade for comparison purposes (step 6). The process, her observations and her conclusions will be documented on the research catalogue, the database for artistic research (https://www.researchcatalogue.net/)
THE METHOD: 'Re-Enacting Embodiment'
To explore the meaning of the body of classical instrumentalists as a determining factor in musical expression and to recognise how musical expression manifests in and through the body, a performer re-enacts interpretations of selected performances by different soloists. ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’ is about slipping into the experience of another corporeality and consciously compare it with one’s own corporeality to then reflect on it systematically. The method includes six steps in a full cycle:
1. The selection of a work from solo violin repertoire as a case study, which is available as an audiovisual documentation by at least one established soloist (henceforth referred to as XY). The documented interpretation of XY will serve as the basis for the re-enactments in steps 3 and 4.
2. The development and audiovisual documentation of BL’s or DD’s own interpretation of the solo composition selected in step 1, prior to re-enacting the interpretation of XY.
3. Auditory re-enactment of the work in the interpretation of XY by only listening to XY’s interpretation using one’s own bodily repertoire.
4. Visual re-enactment of the work as played by XY, this time exactly emulating XY’s body language.
5. While pursuing steps 3 and 4 we ask: How does the conscious appropriation of XY’s movement repertoire affect our own interpretation and self-perception? How does the embodiment of movement patterns foreign to us enrich our musical expressive and performative agency? How can we reflect embodied techniques theoretically and practically in phenomenological observations, academic text, and artworks?
6. After experiencing and reflecting on the re-enactment follows a renewed interpretation and audiovisual documentation of the selected work. This version is not a documentation of any of the re-enactments, but a new personal interpretation based on the work with the method. The result of steps 5 and 6 are used for comparison and evaluation purposes.
First talks on the topic:
March, 17. 2021: Embodied Expressions of Charisma and Gender – A Critique of Classical Instrumental Practices through Artistic Research Talk by Barbara Lüneburg at the symposium METHOD/ART-Research seminar on artistic research methodology organised by the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (ARIA). www.methodartseminar.com
May, 6, 2021: Re-enacting Embodiment
Talk by Barbara Lüneburg on the method 'Re-enacting Embodiment' employed in this pilot project at PARL – SPRING LAB, research seminar of Anton Bruckner Private University
April, 8, 2022: Embodying Expression, Gender and Charisma – Breaking Boundaries of Classical Instrumental Practice
AEC European Platform for Artistic Research in Music EPARM Conference 2022, ‘The Artistry of Artistic Research’
April, Royal Academy of Music, Duke’s Hall, London, UK
At EPARM, Lüneburg reflects on the validity and significance of her method ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’, as she experiences it in her pilot project, how she combines the methods with the analysis and coding of the performances of solo-violinists of different gender and generations, and the process of developing her mixed media installation Body – Expression – Charisma as a first artistic outcome from her pilot project.