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Conferenza degli assentiPhoto (detail): © Sebastian Hoppe

Conference of the absent

Konferenz der Abwesenden (conference of the absent) is a performance work by the Rimini Protokoll artistic collective, a co-production with the Goethe-Institut. In the tour of various European cities as envisaged, conference speakers would not be physically present at each location: rather, their talks would be delivered by members of the public. Replacing the speakers' digital presence with the physical presence of their substitutes would allow the project to tour without climate impact and outside the scope of COVID-19 restrictions.

The project

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Conference of the Absent in Lisbon © Goethe-Institut | video frame

Lisbon | February 24, 2022
Conference of the Absent

This short video collects the reactions of the Portuguese audience to the Lisbon premiere on February 24 at the Teatro do Bairro Alto. Representation is the dominant theme during the two and a half hours, in which the audience enters the scene to pretend to be “someone else” and thus – as Francisco Frazão, artistic director of the TBA, says – to show “the real game of theatre”.

Academy of the Absent - Lisbon © Goethe-Institut Italien | video frame

Rimini Protokoll workshop in Lisbon
Academy of the Absent

The Academy of the Absent took place at the end of February 2022 in Teatro do Bairro Alto in Lisbon under the direction of Helgard Haug (Rimini Protokoll). On this occasion, people from the performing arts gathered for a workshop in which Helgard Haug explained and deepened the genesis and structure of the Conference of the Absent. The workshop was organised in the framework of the project ReMapping Memories Lisboa-Hamburg on the topics of absence, visibility, representation and resistance in the postcolonial city.

The Tour

The European tour of Konferenz der Abwesenden began on June 1 with a performance at the Dresden Staatsschauspiel, before moving on to the Ruhrfestspiele at Recklingshausen and the Frankfurt Mousonturm. The other  appearances are in Madrid at the Naves del Español en Matadero from October 8-10, then from November 2-4 at the Mattatoio in Rome for the Romaeuropa Festival, in the Mostra Internazionale di Architettura section of the Venice Biennale from November 20-21, at the Luxembourg Grand Théâtre from November 30-December 1, at the Brussels Kaaitheater from December 8-9, at Lisbon’s Teatro do Bairro Alto from February 24-26 2022, and at the Paris Centre Pompidou in May 2022.

The Reports

In this section, one of our bloggers in each city on the tour itinerary describes the event and the effect of performance-based telepresence on the audience. Short video clips and interviews are included. Once the tour ends, Rimini Protokoll will produce a final film, with contributions from participants across Europe.
All reports

The Collective

Rimini Protokoll

Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel formed the Rimini Protokoll collective in 2000 and have worked since then – sometimes in pairs or individually – under that name, focusing on the continuous development of theatrical means to open new perspectives on reality.


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