Theater, Dance & Performance Studies
Megan Hoetger is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies with Designated Emphases in Film and Critical Theory. Her dissertation, Rude & Playful Shadows: Kurt Kren and the Performances of Cinema, 1964-1989, is the first historical study to examine the work of Austrian filmmaker Kurt Kren (b. Vienna, 1929; d. Vienna, 1998) who is an elusive yet persistent figure in twentieth-century histories of both film- and performance-based experimentation. Rude & Playful Shadows takes up Kren’s practice as both uniquely devoted to filmically documenting circuits of underground and experimental movement and as emblematic of the transmedial and transnational strategies deployed by artists across sectors at the time. Accordingly, the project maps out the international relationships (both personal and professional) that were being forged across east and west, north and south, in underground communities during the 60s, 70s, and 80s; and, moreover, examines the complicated role of “soft power” state cultural funding in helping to make these connections possible. In so doing it also offers the first historical study to explore the underground, collective, and often ad hoc networks that connected experimental art scenes internationally during the Cold War period. Tracing the cracks and fissures that define the circulation and display of Kren’s works, Rude & Playful Shadows argues, there is much to learn about the ways in which communities were able to find side doors and back channels through which to form across national borders at a time when they faced heavy state censorship with little in the way of art institutional or film industrial support. Returning to these histories and to thinking about the kinds of economies that made space for the distribution and exhibition of such materials and events seems an urgent matter under our current cultural and political global conditions.