Ritual für (den) einen Mittelpunkt

Dorothea Rust "Ritual for (the) one center"

Dorothea Rust (born 1955) lives and works in Zurich. She studied postmodern dance in New York, as well as visual Art and Cultural / Gender Studies in Zurich. Her artistic work has been awarded, among others, with the work year awards of Zug and Zurich, the Performance Promotion Prize of the Kunstkredit Basel (2007) and the Recognition Prize of the STEO Foundation.
www.dorothearust.ch, www.unterricht.dorothearust.ch

In front of a covered climbing wall on the recreational area*, two square areas were marked out with black tape and a row of basil potted plants were used as a stage. The blind artist is led to the right square and left there. Not a patch of skin is visible. A hooded jacket fastener reaching over her head takes away her sight, gloves clothe her hands. As companions she laces two red buoys - used to moor watercraft or to mark the position of anchors - to her waistband with long ropes. Thus the performer begins her "ritual for (the) one center".

With a lecture on the healing power and significance of basil, she draws a connection to the origin of the plant name, the local canton of Basel-Landschaft and its geographical centre. In the meantime, the propellers of a flying object start to turn on the left square, the drone takes off and floats. In order to remain comprehensible to the audience in addition to this aircraft noise, the performer now shouts and screams her knowledge into the room. Calls for orientation, which she has long since lost - in search of a stack of prepared cardboards, tangled in the cords of her anchor buoys. A game begins in the back and forth. Cardboards with explanations of drones, central points or simply covered with symbols and images of rural events are thrown into the audience. The audience has just given directions to help, and now protects and ducks in front of the cardboard bullets. Thus the artist draws tracks of meaning into the room, which immediately dissolve again.
All these small bullets lie in the recreational area* and the centre of the earth can be reached via a tunnel. The mobile phones are to be placed on the table, the basil leaves picked, rubbed between the fingers, smelled and then placed on the phones. All this is important, yes! Important for the ritual. Thus the artist undresses, piece by piece, down to her underpants, only to expose a body, which in turn, covered by black lines, begins to act in a new coordinate system. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues. The drone watches over her head and lets her hair flutter in the wind.

The jury was impressed by the way the artist allowed the placement of a center to melt away in the space between a two or majority, and celebrated the ritual announced in the title as a hybrid anti-ritual. The course of the performance remained situational and uncertain, audience expectations were built up and dropped. The work of an experienced and versatile artist thus manifested itself with its very own character and wit.

The jury appreciated the ambivalent eccentricity as well as the simultaneous fluidity and resistance of the work. The performer showed a variety of settings in which she created seemingly unsolvable situations, sought and found ways out of them. With this permanent spectrum of imponderables and discontinuities, Dorothea Rust offered a performance full of radical turns, in which she skilfully oscillated between humour and seriousness.

The artist was awarded prize money of CHF 30'000.

(* recreational area of a school building complex in Lupsingen, where the Performance Art Award competition took place)


The Swiss Performance Art Award contributes to the visibility of Swiss performance art, shows its diversity and reinforces its recognition. The annual competition is open to artists from all areas with a performative practice. The performance prize is hosted this year for the first time by the Canton of Zurich.  The Swiss Performance Art Award is a common initiative by the Cantons of Aargau, Basel-City, Basel-Country, Lucerne, Zurich and the City of Geneva.

Full Jury report of the Performance Art Award 2016 in German on www.performanceartaward.ch