Barbara Barthelmes
Music-centered Spatial Art

This seamless gliding from one genre to another is based on reframing the function of theatrical space: away from the idiom of an enclosure whose interior is furnished differently each time, toward a conception of space as an autonomous entity that lends itself to visualizing and hearing music. In her alternate approach to theatrical space, Claudia Doderer starts from the music, spatially perceived and interpreted, and designs an abstract language of forms centered on the inherent dimensions of the space.

Just as site-specific sound art relates to the soundscape of a particular place, and is developed from that perspective, so Claudia Doderer creates surroundings for specific pieces of music. As she engages in this process, she acts and moves more like a sculptor or an architect. Her métier, then, is a field that has, as yet, no really suitable name, but which could perhaps be described in a somewhat roundabout way as music-centered spatial art.

Diaphonous Architectures

Planes, color, light and motion: Claudia Doderer initially reduces her vocabulary to these elements as she shapes her spaces. Space is often structured “only” by the setup and orientation of a single surface. Planes aligned in parallel evoke a foreground and background whose dimensions and extent vary according to their position. From time to time, diagonals elicit intensified dynamics and drama.


Excerpts from program catalogue: MaerzMusik – Festival für aktuellle Musik, Berlin 2007, p. 111–121.
On the occasion of the German premiere of Klaus Lang fichten. for grand orchestra and space installation, March 16–18, 2007, Haus der Berliner Festspiele.

Peter Ablinger
The Birth of Music Theater out of the Spirit of Drawing

What, exactly, is the actual work in the case of a stage designer like Claudia Doderer?

What initially stands out is Claudia Doderer’s indifference regarding the realization — not, of course, the act of realizing (!) — but the finished product, that which is generally regarded as a theater production’s natural conclusion. Evidently, Claudia Doderer does not regard the finished production as the final ‚work,’ but rather its temporary manifestation or interpretation.

Let’s pose the question somewhat differently: what remains from decades of investigation into music and its visual representation, its spatial or sculptural extension, its transposition into spaces of expectation and experience that often go far beyond the actual presentation and that — as is often the case in Doderer’s New Music productions when they also incorporate the listener and the design of the space — also bring the social component and the body to fore, not merely on a metaphorical or stage level, but in the form of direct participation and even contribution?

So, what remains?

Apart from secondary documentation media such as photographs, program booklets, and film records, what remain are: memory and drawing. Memory is tied to the moment of the performance and remains inseparable from the music, from the piece for which the stage design or interactive installation was developed.

Drawing is more independent, whereby the term is meant in the singular here. Those who regard drawing in the plural and as fine art are seeing it wrongly and missing the point. But those who understand it in terms of a draft for a stage design are also mistaken.

Drawing is both more and less than a draft, more and less than an independent graphic work.

It is more than the draft because it has a life of its own that extends beyond the actual realization. Sometimes it attains the status of musical score, at the very latest when several different realizations arise from a single draft. It is less than the draft because it’s usually lacking in practical information concerning size, material, function, etc. It’s also less than fine art, because it doesn’t tend towards the object, the artifact, the individual piece (or an accumulation of individual pieces, the plurality of industrious art production). And finally, it is more than fine art, precisely because it is less, because it’s not complete ‚as a work’: it is similar to thought, to the sudden inspiration that everything derives from, that everything is born out of. And with the imagination it shares an indifference regarding the actual realization. One could perhaps detect certain parallels to conceptual art here, but they don’t really apply.

Because the drawing must be read as a musical score. Inscribed in it are the time and the action, a movement of light, a singer’s or actor’s gesture. The drawing veritably generates time, it produces consequences, it leads to something — sometimes, in series arranged into sequences — it leads to the next drawing, sometimes to a concrete dramatic action or performance, and sometimes to something else entirely: because what the drawing communicates often can’t be gleaned from what it represents, from the color or form, but rather from the act of representing itself, the drawing itself, the weight or pressure of a brush applied to paper, the trace of the pencil’s choreography, as though the drawing paper were not a two-dimensional space, but rather itself a stage that something is enacted upon — perhaps the very essence!

Hence, if Claudia Doderer’s drawing can be ascribed to any particular artistic discipline at all, then perhaps thus: Claudia Doderer’s drawing is not fine art, it’s not a preliminary stage to the dramatic arts, it is itself a dramatic art.


„… Claudia Doderer is always concerned with open form: in her work with the operas of the repertoire, as well as in collaboration with contemporary composers, spatial as well as musical realization are of equal value. She composes the space, researches and tries out possibilities that enable the space to be experienced, by exposing its visual implications, for instance, or by translating specific perspectives and proportions through altered positioning. Every space that she designs, she shapes anew… ”

Sabine Sanio


Excerpt from: Sabine Sanio, Der Raum als freie Form. Zu Claudia Doderers Bühnenbildern