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Performance for seminar week, History of Art and Architecture, Prof. Dr. Philip Ursprung, Prof. Dr. Alex Lehnerer, ETH, 2017

On the first evening of the seminar trip, all participants receive an envelope with the request to open it as the first action of the following day. The envelope contains a letter with instructions: remain silent: no communication at all, dress: black, hand over: mobile phone.


Each participant is part of the performance. The performance follows the daily program of the seminar week: breakfast at the Auberge Passage d'eau, France, resembles a funeral. The participants travel by coach through the Ardennes. This is followed by silent architecture and site visits (boat lift, architectural monuments, former wartime landscapes and bunkers, more recent urban developments, Euralille). Beethoven's Sonata for Piano No.32 is played before the performance ends on the beach at Dunkirk, Belgium. The participants receive a bag with a towel and soap to. wash their feet in the Atlantic. White tulips and dinner are waiting on the tables of the Ara Dune Hotel restaurant.

Melancholia, a term known since Antiquity, defines a state of sadness, introversion, reflection, aimless inactivity and pause. Since the Renaissance, melancholia is considered a precondition of creativity. On our seminar week we will use the notion of melancholia to describe our attitude towards the architecture realized between the late 1990s and the early millennium in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. The state of melancholia also applies to the current situation of Europe. The optimism of the 1990s has given way to uncertainty and concern. (Philip Ursprung)

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