Still from "The Seizure of the Iuventa". A boat in the sea. Various people stand on the boat wearing life jackets. At the bottom left of the image a date: 18 June 2017. At the bottom of the image a timeline with the marker 06:20:05.

Politics of Appearing

We can only come into political existence, according to Hannah Arendt, by coming forward, by appearing and thus marking a beginning. Constitutive for the sphere of the political, however, is not only what appears, but also what disappears, what is excluded or externalized. Against this background, the project examines performative and artistic practices that reveal the conditions of the possibility of coming into appearance. Such practices critically reflect the relationship between appearing and disappearing, being marked and being unmarked, exposition and externalization. Scenes of appearance will be analyzed such as courtroom scenes, reconstructions like those by Forensic Architecture, and transitory theater traditions, from the early modern Commedia Dell’Arte to current post-migrant theater as well as contemporary forms of ecopoetics. By looking at the temporary communities established in such transitory scenes, the project aims at developing a different politics of appearing that breaks through current techniques of blocking out what should not appear.

The outcome of this project will result in a series of three shorter monographs: Nebenklage – Vom Rande des NSU-Prozesses: Politik des Erscheinens I addresses the performance of the defendants and the non-performance of victims in the NSU trial, analyzing artistic strategies that render this non-appearing visible. Das Lachen der Ophelia: Politik des Erscheinens II explores the theatrical implications of appearing. It relates Shakespeare’s Ophelia to the Commedia dell’Arte and traces its afterlife in post-migrant theater. Finally, Wer vertritt Gaia?: Politik des Erscheinens III raises the question of how non-human entities, the earth, or nature may appear. Here, the current discussion surrounding the rights of nature in international legal theory is related to postcolonial debates and strategies of representation in ecopoetics.


Fig. above: Still from “The Seizure of the Iuventa” (2018), Source: Forensic Architecture (with courtesy of Forensic Architecture)

since 2021
Head researcher(s): Katrin Trüstedt


Katrin Trüstedt

  • Stateless, on Stage: Elfriede Jelinek’s Die Schutzbefohlenen, in: Ivana Perica, Catriona Corke, Philipp Wegmann (eds.): The Literary Acts of Agency. Berlin: De Gruyter (forthcoming)
  • Prozess des Erscheinens. Vom Rande des NSU-Verfahrens, in: ZfL Blog, 23 Mar 2022


23 Sep 2023 · 9.00 am

Katrin Trüstedt: Representing Gaia? Towards a Politics of Appearing

Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Normative Orders Building, Max-Horkheimer-Str. 2, 60323 Frankfurt am Main

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02 Sep 2023 · 10.00 am

Katrin Trüstedt: Politics of Appearing: Pulcinella & Ophelia Are Dead

Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare, Hampton Court Road, Hampton TW12 2EJ

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06 Apr 2022 · 4.30 pm

Katrin Trüstedt: Representing Gaia

University of Kent, Darwin College, Darwin Conference Suite, Canterbury CT2 7NY, UK / online

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13 Nov 2021 · 2.00 pm

Katrin Trüstedt: Politik des Erscheinens: Hamlets Maschinen und Ophelias Auftritte

Marie-Seebach-Stiftung, Tiefurter Allee 8, 99425 Weimar

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