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Embodying Expression, Gender, Charisma –
Breaking Boundaries of Classical Instrumental Practices


Based on a dual research design the team studies their topic from two different methodological angles, that of artistic research and sociology of practice. Research questions arise primarily from Barbara Lüneburg’s longtime performance practice. The process of doing art is central to the investigation, serving the production of research data. The team will systematically follow artistic processes and artistic outcomes, and analysis and evaluation of the emerging data will be fed back into the art making. Biannual work labs with artists and scholars from thematically related disciplines will complement the researchers’ ongoing work. We will employ three approaches:

Artistic Research based on Practice: The method of ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’

To explore the meaning of the body of classical instrumentalists as a determining factor in musical expression and to recognize how musical expression manifests in and through the body, a performer re-enacts interpretations of selected performances by different soloists. ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’ is about slipping into the experience of another corporeality and consciously compare it with one’s own corporeality to then reflect on it systematically. For a detailed description follow the link RE-ENACTING EMBODIMENT.

Artistic Research and Sociology of Practice: Social Embeddedness and Innovation of Methods

Here we look at the social embeddedness of instrumental performance practices presuming a nexus of practice between performance, audience, and specific situation, as anthropologist Georgina Born’s reading of the assemblage concept (Born 2011) and musicologist Christopher Small’s ‘musicking’ concept (Small 1998) suggest. We reflect on what kind of gender expectations an audience assigns to a concert setting, how performers answer to it via their nonverbal, bodily expression, and how this relates to the construction of charisma between audience and performer.

Artistic Research through Creation: Work labs, Exhibition, Multimedia Show

Understanding and challenging expression, gender, and charisma through the performing body is at the centre of the art creation that is initiated in the work labs and extends over the entire project’s runtime. During the biannual five-day work labs the team investigates and discusses the meaning of embodiment for expression, gender, and charisma with practitioners and scholars of different disciplines in a comparative and explorative setting. Practitioners come from instrumental practices, theatre and drag studies, technology and performance arts, and dance.

Instrumentalists are invited to test and discuss the re-enactment method and its applicability for other instrument types; dancers and other artists will get commissions for collaboration on performances that address our research objectives. Scholars from gender studies, phenomenology, and SoP observe, reflect, provide input, and challenge us. Artworks and documentation of performances developed in the work labs will be part of the multimodal research outcome.

Grounded Theory

We use Grounded Theory as a synthesizing methodology that allows us to establish references between AR and SoP and to process the various types of data material from art practice, artistic research, and sociology that we will produce. Data comes in text formats: research journals, phenomenological observations, field notes in thick description, interviews or questionnaires; or in art formats: performances of violin and flute repertoire in connection with the method ‘Re-enacting Embodiment’ and, later in the project, newly created works that become part of the exhibition and the multimedia performance. We contrast and merge insights from our respective disciplines so that tacit routines and bodily knowledge that elude reflection and direct verbalisation become accessible for analytical work and knowledge production. The following section describes the three research approaches in detail.


Born, Georgina. 2011. Music and the Materialization of Identities. Journal of Material Culture 16 (4) 16 (4): 376-388.
Small, Christopher. 1998. Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.

Logo of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

Embodying Expression, Gender Charisma is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF as project PEEK AR 749-G and is located at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Austria. The project has a runtime of forty months starting in August 2022.