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Sarah Ralfs

Fluid Transitions: Aesthetics of a collective Self
(working title)


The project examines the works of artist Christoph Schlingensief, in which traditional classifications of genre and art disciplines are paradigmatically transgressed.

The works cover a spectrum of experimental films, various theatre and opera projects, different talk show formats, the set up of a political party including an “election circus” and the founding of an opera house in Burkina Faso.

Through strategies of media reflexive staging the conventions and functions of acting and representation inscribed in different media, arts and institutions become sounded out, testing how an alternative and commenting usage changes the traditional divisions between the arts and between art and non-art.

Therefore the works of Schlingensief strike the nucleus of the topic of InterArt-Studies, their systematic scientific examination from this perspective seems to be indispensible, the more as there hasn’t been a lot of research going on about them.

In order to be able to examine the huge and complex oeuvre of Schlingensief, the project focuses on a certain phenomenon, which is virulent in all of the works: the self-staging. Schlingensief always appears in his works and stages himself within them. His numerous interviews in public media constitutively influence the reception and the interpretation of his works as different forms of self-staging.

Thereby self is not performed as a fixed and enclosed identity, but as a media specific and fluid position, that constitutes temporarily.

Taking a start with these reflections, the project follows research questions like: How does such a processual and media specific concept of self refer to a transgressive aesthetic? How do the works deal with general aesthetic, social, political and cultural questions and problems within the paradigm of self-staging? In how far are these staging strategies demonstrating a general and constitutive involvement of self in structures of alterity and sociality? And finally: what are the aesthetical and philosophical traditions of such a staging and conception of self?


Personal Details

Contact: sralfs[at]gmail.com


Theatre and Comparative Literature Studies (Bachelor) at Freie Universität Berlin


Erasmus at Paris VIII Université de Vincennes-St. Denis


Bachelordegree (Bachelor of Arts); final examination about "Staging and Media Reflexion in the Works of Jeff Wall"


Theatre Studies (Master) at Freie Universität Berlin


Student Assistant at Sonderforschungsbereich 447 "Kulturen des Performativen" at Freie Universität Berlin, in the project B1 "Ästhetik des Performativen"of Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Erika Fischer-Lichte at the Department of Theatre Studies


Student Assistant of Prof. Dr. Annette Jael Lehmann at the Department of Theatre Studies at Freie Universität Berlin


Masterdegree (Master of Arts); final examination about "Forms of Self-Staging in the Trilogy Eine Kirche der Angst vor dem Fremden in mir, Zwischenstand der Dinge and Mea Culpa of Christoph Schlingensief"


Trainee, Prinz von Homburg, directed by Andreas Kriegenburg, Deutsches Theater Berlin, premiere on 25.09.2009

Since 2009

PhD-project at the "International Research Training Group Interart Studies" about "Aesthetics of a collective Self" (advisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Erika Fischer-Lichte)


Tutorial related to the “Introduction into Theatre Studies” by Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Erika Fischer-Lichte, Department of Theatre Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, winter term


Organisation of the International Joint Symposium "Restaging Academia". 3.-5.11.2011 FU Berlin / Interart (with Anu Allas, Ornella Calvano, Julia Fertig, Felicitas Zeeden), in Cooperation with Goldsmith College London and Copenhagen Doctoral School


2010 "Transgressing borders: Staging disease - infecting everybody. A talk about  Christoph Schlingensief's latest works", "Border Infections"-workshop, Goldsmith  College, London, 23.03.2010.

"Self-Staging between Autobiography, Documentary and Fiction", "After Fiction"-Joint Symposium, Copenhagen Doctoral School, Copenhagen,  03.07.2010.

"The Reverb of the Author/Director", "Border Reverb"-Workshop in cooperation with Clandestino Festival, Göteborg, 09.07.2010.



„‘Wir sind eins.’ – TOTAL TOTAL. Selbst-Inszenierungen in Christoph Schlingensief späten Arbeiten“.  ("'We are one' - TOTAL TOTAL. Self-Staging in Christoph Schlingensief's latest works") In: Pia Janke / Teresa Kovacs (Hg.): Der Gesamtkünstler Christoph Schlingensief. Wien: Praesens, 2011, S. 307-326.


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