The Entanglement between Gesture, Media, and Politics

Gesture, Media,
and Politics
Workshop III / Berlin-Köpenick

Gestures in Practice

Workshop III / Berlin-Köpenick

The third workshop took place at Lake Studios, Berlin Köpenick from May 15–19. Our task was to work intensively on installations, lecture performances and choreographies. Eventually, we concentrated on consolidations and aesthetic shapings after having explored and experimented on our focus topics and case scenarios in previous working phases.

Over five days of intensive workshop residency held at Lake Studios in Berlin, the group continued to exchange ideas towards the exhibition and symposium to be held in December at Künstlerhaus Bethanien.

Economies of Gesture

The working group, consisting of Florian Bettel, Irina Kaldrack and Tobias Schulze, explores contemporary economies of gestures. In Berlin, the group started from an in-depth research on to discuss issues of communication, forms of courtesy, agonal constellations, and adjustment of bodily movement. The connecting element of these topics was the integral use of technology as well as technology’s interdependency with economy and work.

Gesture & Labour

The members of the workgroup exchanged material and focused on notions of efficiency in the context of manual and automated production environments. The term “lost motion”, as coined by Frank Gilbreth in his early 20th century work, especially caught their attention. Florian Bettel drew connections to game theory while Konrad Strutz presented a draft for a video work that deals with gestures derived from industrial contexts and subsequently applied towards non-productive purposes.

Surveillance and Gesture

As a first draft the group members shot videos of themselves performing a variety of gaits in front of a grid similar to those used in chronophotography. Through this practice specific questions arose within the group about political and social aspects of the basic premise of their proposal, i.e. using alterations of movements to evade surveillance systems and of embodying “the animal” as a means for freedom of movement and what that may imply in the racialization of immigration politics.

Social Choreography

Timo Herbst and Laurie Young´s starting point were to develop a social choreography score for the public space in and around the area of Kunstquartier Bethanian, which would highlight and reveal the hidden choreographic cues of city spaces and how bodies are demanded to obey them. Upon visiting the exhibition space, Laurie Young realized that Bethanien´s building is not fully accessible to wheelchair users. After being informed by the caretaker that there are no wheelchair-ramps available in the house to cover the first four steps of Studio1, Young and Herbst decided to address this problem by providing ramps for these stairs. This idea developed into creating a series of ramps as a re-occuring theme throughout the exhibition space as choreographic objects with which to activate the visitors body.

Transforming Political Gestures

The working group of Irina Kaldrack, Dina Boswank and Timo Herbst continued to develop their performative installation „Transforming political gestures through a chain“ which deals with gestures and actions during protests at the G20 in Hamburg. A first version was presented in November 2017 as a lecture performance during a conference at the University Potsdam and a second will be held in October 2018 in Kunstverein, Leipzig. The work will be further developed as a performative installation. Handling and manipulating the material, a space of thought and experience emerges that questions the status of „political gesture“. To this end the group continued to modify and specify their approach.

Timo Herbst edited a second film based on the observations the group made on what actions and gestures of different agendas had and what order they impose in the public space.

Irina Kaldrack deepened her investigation of what „political“ means in „poltical“ gesture. With a comparison of the readings of Oliver Marchart and André Lepecki, Timo Herbst and Irina Kaldrack began developing a textual dramaturgy.Dina Boswank worked on interviews about descriptions of press photos of the G20.

The Project

The Entanglement between Gesture, Media, and Politics is a research project investigating the interdependencies that exist between bodily movements or gestures, and ubiquitous, globally networked technologies.

To display and displaying oneself gains greater significance within the context of the unrestricted and instantaneous global exchange of video material as well as in an everyday world increasingly defined by sensors and computers. Thus the meaning of presence and publicness changes, evolves and new forms appear.


The Publication

Throwing Gestures examines the recent intensification of interest in gesture and the entanglement between gesture, media, and politics.

The gestures discussed pass from body to body and between states of medial representation. Protest movements, the respective aesthetics specific to those movements, the perpetuation of socio-economic crises over many decades, the plight of gig workers in precarious employment and mechanisms for the quantification of work and leisure are some of the issues addressed.



Workshop I / Braunschweig

From April 24 to 28, 2017, the project participants met for the first workshop in Braunschweig. During several days of intensive collaboration, we presented our materials and methods, as well as preliminary research results, identified common interests on the basis of selected case studies and tested various methods to acquaint ourselves with them analytically.

Workshop II / Hallein

The international art and design festival “Schmiede Hallein” was the setting for the second workshop of the research project “The Entanglement between Gesture, Media, and Politics”, held from September 20 to 30, 2017. In one section of the extensive grounds of the former salt refinery, the project team created a space for experiments involving physical gestures, technology and spatial installations.

Workshop III / Berlin-Köpenick

The third workshop took place at Lake Studios, Berlin Köpenick from May 15–19. Our task was to work intensively on installations, lecture performances and choreographies. Eventually, we concentrated on consolidations and aesthetic shapings after having explored and experimented on our focus topics and case scenarios in previous working phases.

Workshop IV / Berlin-Kreuzberg

From September 4 to 10, 2018 we met for the fourth and last workshop at the Art Quarter Bethanien (Kunstquartier Bethanien). We worked intensively on our collective and individual installations for the exhibition in December.

Symposium: Throwing Gestures

By Christian Schwinghammer / Daniel Stoecker, research college SENSING: On the Knowledge of Sensitive Media, Brandenburgisches Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften (ZeM), Potsdam

Kunstquartier Bethanien, Studio 1, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin. Symposium December 8th, 10 am–7 pm.

Exhibition: Throwing Gestures

Review of exhibition „Throwing Gestures“ in Studio 1, Kunstquartier Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin. Vernissage 7 Dec 2018, open 9–16 Dec 2018


Book presentation “Throwing Gestures”

On May 19, 2022, the book presentation of “Throwing Gestures. Protest, Economy and the Imperceptible” took place at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Marie Artaker, Gerald Bast (rector), Florian Bettel, Ernst Strouhal and Konrad Strutz spoke.

Final publication: Throwing Gestures

The final publication, „Throwing Gestures,“ was published by Verlag für moderne Kunst in September 2021. Editors are Florian Bettel, Irina Kaldrack and Konrad Strutz.


Durchgeführt an der Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig; gefördert durch die Volkswagen-Stiftung im Rahmen des Programms Arts & Science in Motion; unterstützt von der Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien.