The Institution

Photos: Bernhard Kahrmann, Herbordt/Mohren, René Liebert, Suresh Kumar

Die Institution

July 4–14, 2013, 2-8pm, Römerstraße 2, 70178 Stuttgart

‘Die Institution’ will only be in town for a short time. During this time, ‘Die Institution’ is open every day. ‘Die Institution’ invites you to enter its spaces. ‘Die Institution’ is the installation of its constitution. ‘Die Institution’ welcomes you.

– Welcome! My name is Katharina Zoffmann and I play the role of the host. I am only here because you are here.
– My name is Armin Wieser and I play the role of the host. We are, as you are, protagonists of ‘The Institution’.
– ‘The Institution’ welcomes – you, for example.
– Come closer, have a seat, make yourself comfortable. (From ‘The Institution’)

For 11 days, ‘The Institution’, as a durational performance, staged an institution. It was home, public laboratory and theater. Every day during the opening hours visitors were guided through the growing installation in individual theater performances; they celebrated with local and global neighborhoods; they followed tracks of the fictional institution in an archive, or they themselves helped write its temporary history.

The promise of a different social context, the model of an institution which integrates that which has been excluded, and yet has to remain temporary in order not to become authoritarian itself again – this promise is the central aspect of the staged institution.



What is to be reported is an experience of extraordinary quality. The visitor enters the Wilhelminian style building in Stuttgart’s Römerstraße, and is led into a sparsely furnished room. For exactly 8 minutes and 31 seconds she or he now has to remain in this cell-like chamber, which, apart from the guest, only contains a bed and a small table. A voice is heard from off-stage: ‘You can watch us, just as we can watch you.’ The voice tells you to take a seat. This isn’t participatory theater, the man at the entrance had said. But still. Do I behave correctly, I ask myself. Next to the cell door a clock is counting down to zero. Suddenly, a roller blind is drawn up; a woman and a man stand behind it. Minutes later, the ‘hostess’ (Katharina Zoffmann) releases the guest from the so-called guest room, and provides her or him with headphones. There is an architectural model in the next room. The voice in the headphones leads through the enigmatic installation, a flat within the flat, very carefully constructed with wooden walls (space design: Leonie Mohr and Hannes Hartmann). Then you enter the ‘archive’, where the ‘host’ (Armin Dallapiccola) asks you: ‘Can we talk about everything?’ After 45 minutes the strange and exciting tour ends. After a while you can’t tell anymore: who is performer, and who is visitor? And this, after all, is an intriguing confusion.
(Stuttgarter Zeitung, July 6, 2013)


Artistic direction, concept, archive, text, stage direction: Melanie Mohren, Bernhard Herbordt. Space design, model: Leonie Mohr, Hannes Hartmann. Assistance space design: Christine Bentele. Performers: Katharina Zoffmann, Armin Dallapiccola. Artists: Nana&Friends, Marcus G. Bergmann, Bojan Djordjev, Siniša Ilic, Suresh Kumar G., Michl Schmidt. Sound installation: Hannes Seidl. Light, video, programming: René Liebert. Technical direction: Roman Scheffner. Technical assistance: Matthias Rieber. Research, organisation, communication: Juliane Beck, Sabrina Glas. Assistance organisation: Daniela Müller. PR: Bernhard Siebert. Graphic design: Demian Bern. Photos: Bernhard Kahrmann. Translation and copy-editing: Sandra Fluhrer, Viola van Beek.

Guests of the workshop talks ‘Performing Institutions’: Lorenz Aggermann, Jens Badura, Bojan Djordjev, Iris Dressler, André Eiermann, Siniša Ilic, Suresh Kumar, Marcell Mars, Jan-Philipp Possmann, Michl Schmidt, Natascha Siouzouli, Emanuel V. Towfigh.
‘Performing Institutions’ is an event of The Young Academy at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, initiated by Herbordt/Mohren, coordinated by Juliane Beck.
Associated programs: Akademie Schloss Solitude Stuttgart, The Young Academy at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt, Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, and many others.

‘The Institution’ is a production by Herbordt/Mohren, funded by the State Association of Independent Theaters Baden-Württemberg e. V. financed by the Ministry for Science, Research and Art Baden-Württemberg, the Fonds Darstellende Künste e. V. – three-year conceptual funding financed by the German Federal Government, the City of Stuttgart, and the Stiftungen Landesbank Baden-Württemberg. In cooperation with the Akademie Schloss Solitude Stuttgart.
With best thanks to: Die Kichererbse – vegane Alternativen, InselGRÜN Urban-StuttGARTEN, Rux Wein, Schauspiel der Baden-Württembergischen Staatstheater Stuttgart, Theater Rampe.