un.known spaces english


Artistic research and performative multimedia installation

With UN.KNOWN SPACES, we turn our attention to three singular building-complexes, located on three different continents and hosted by three very different communities: the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi, New York City, and Vienna. Our interest is to explore specific localizations of this 193-state community as an extended reflection on its own written foundation (the UN Charter) and its strategies for dealing with the inherent Babylonian confusion of its constituent states. Based on a thorough investigation of these four UN-architectures and their peripheries, we seek to explore the physical and virtual spaces rhizomatically interwoven within these locales.

What effects do the immediate, everyday environs of a given UN-building have on the decisions of global politics perpetually taking place within? Might we discover structures in the microcosms surrounding the UN-buildings, which anticipate or even influence the events of the macrocosms of world politics? What does an international convention from 1945 shelved inside an UN-building have in common with the permanently changing outside world? Which specific strategies and technologies for overcoming the cacophony of languages and cultural differences are in place, and how have these changed over time?

UN.KNOWN SPACES is the fourth cooperation between stage-designer/theater-director Janina Janke and the musician/media-artist Maurice de Martin. Previous collaborative productions took place in an abandoned theater, an experimental scientific laboratory in Berlin, and a skyscraper in the Digital Media-City in Seoul/South Korea. These works explored the aesthetic, narrative, and social structures of a given site and transformed these into temporary multi-media, performative installations.

The initial research phase for UN.KNOWN SPACES occurred in 2011 in and around the UN Headquarters in Vienna. In 2012/13, these explorations were intensified and expanded to all UN residential offices. In November ’12/January ’13 we travelled to Nairobi and New York City in order to observe the interior and exterior lives of these various UN-building-complexes. Along the way, we generated photo, video, text, and sound documents, collected materials and objects, conducted interviews, draw unique site-maps, and took ground samples. We intervene, surprise, and irritate by raising unheard of questions and suggesting unexpected conjunctions. In the final stage, our processual accumulation of „hard facts“ will be juxtaposed with situational and subjective impressions and will be condensed into the form of an artwork. The archive of our research-phases will be presented as a performative multimedia installation. UN.KNOWN SPACES is an artistic experiment, which engages the linguistic and medial codes of politics, science and art to initiate a process of translation that will be closed by fusing into an orchestrated interpretation of reality.

The multimedia installation UN.KNOWN SPACES will be exhibited in 2013 in Vienna on top of the Danube-Tower, presenting the visitor a 360-degree panoramic projection and a multi-channel sound-installation, suggesting the entanglement of local and global relations from a „pseudo-objective“ viewpoint. After the Vienna premiere, the exhibition will travel to New York City, Nairobi, Berlin (2014) and Geneva (2015). Besides its steady multi-media-installation, the exhibition also consists of a changing performative part that will be developed site-specific, in cooperation with organisations and people of the respective local communities.

UN.KNOWN SPACES is part of  andere räume – knowledge through art,  a research project of artists and scientists, supported by the austrian FWF (Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung).


Janina Janke (director / stage designer), born in 1974 in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Apprenticeship as a carpenter, studies in European ethnology and philosophy in Munich and Berlin. Studies in stage design at the Berlin University of the Arts. Co-founder of the music theater formation Oper Dynamo West. Janina Janke has conceived and directed numerous documentary and experimental theater projects and performances. She has also worked as a freelance stage and costume designer for the Deutsches Theater Göttingen, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatstheater Mainz, Luzerner Theater, and the Schaubühne Berlin.

2008/09 – Fellow of the Graduate School for the Arts and Sciences at the Berlin University of the Arts, 2009 – Fellow of the Academy Schloss Solitude Stuttgart, 2010 – Fellowship at the German Academy of Rome Villa Massimo. www.janinajanke.de

Maurice de Martin (transdisciplinary-artist / musician), born in 1969 in Bad Aibling, Germany. Masters in Contemporary Arts Practice from the Academy of the Arts, Bern, Switzerland. Composition studies with Dino Ghezzo (NYU) and Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. Lived, studied and worked in NYC from 1991-95 as fellow of the GVL. Studies in Eastern European Folklore in Romania and Bulgaria as fellow of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service).

Regular member of the international new music-ensemble zeitkratzer (since 2000) and musical director of the Swiss experimental Theatre-group Plasma (2010-11). Musical director for the internationally renowned Theater-director Thomas Ostermeier at the Schaubühne-Theatre, Berlin (2006-’09). Worldwide concert activities and more than 50 international publications on CD, DVD, and LP (including labels in Europe, the US, Canada, Russia, and Japan). Participation in projects/exhibitions at Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin (2009-’10), BMW-Guggenheim LAB (Berlin 2012), Romanian Literature-Museum (Bucharest 2010), and the Serpentine-Gallery (London 2005).

Since 2009, Maurice de Martin is lecturer at the „Y-Institute for Transdisziplinarity“ and Theatre-Department of the Academy of the Arts, Bern. www.mauricedemartin.de