“Walking through town is the gesture by which members of the public signal their bourgeois subjectivity and claim to the world. Dance is a gesture signalising another subjectivity, in which all interrelations start to dance: how do we learn to dance like this?”

Die große Verweigerung / © Anja BeutlerTanz Aller / © Eiko GrimbergTanz Aller / © Eiko Grimberg



Ole Frahm, Michael Hueners and Torsten Michaelsen, aka LIGNA, have been researching “the reception context as a source of production” since 1997. The point of departure for their work – one of the most incisive of which was their early piece Radioballett (2002) in Hamburg’s central station (which had legal consequences as an “unauthorised gathering in a public space”) – is Bertolt Brecht’s theory on radio. In the late 1920s, Brecht pleaded the case for turning radio from an “apparatus of dissemination into an apparatus of communication”. In his view, radio should not just transmit but also receive information and allow the listener to take an active role. Building on this idea, LIGNA develop concepts and texts and create contexts and playing fields – sometimes on stage but preferably in public spaces – that they leave at the visitors’ disposal. Visitors listen to the audio plays alone, but are asked to carry out specific movements at regular intervals. Though seemingly isolated when receiving the radio programme, their actions in the space make them part of a collective, part of the (performance) production. In this way, a chance constellation of participants becomes a purposeful association of producers. “We try to be invisible”, is how the artists describe their task during performances. But what if visitors refuse to participate? “That is a risk that we have to take”, says Ole Frahm calmly. “There are always some who refuse.” They may resist participation in the piece – but ultimately they adopt “a very conventional attitude to reception”.
Katrin Ullmann 

Die große Verweigerung (2014)

Die letzte Kommune (2014)

Nichts zu machen (2014)

Promenade Jungfernstieg (2014)

Raum 315 (2014) Secret Radio (2014)

Dance of all – A movement Choir (2015)

Der Wert (m)eines Lebens (2015)

Warten. Ein Audioguide ins Nichtstun (2015)




LIGNA consists of the media theorists and performance artists Ole Frahm, Michael Hüners and Torsten Michaelsen, who met at Freier Sender Kombinat (FSK) in Hamburg. LIGNA’s performances turn the audience members into a diffuse producers’ collective: in works like Radioballett (2002) they listen to a choreography of prohibited gestures in formerly public, now privatised and supervised places, such as central stations and shopping malls. Performances such as Der Neue Mensch (2008) explore the theatre itself as a place where audience subjectivity is produced, and Tanz aller – (2013-15) recalls forgotten practices of collective dancing which blur the boundary between actor and spectator.