Itinerant Structures: Traveling Medicine Show at dOCUMENTA(13)

Curated by The Critical Art Ensemble

Kassel, Germany 2012


Elizabeth Dorbad & Ann Schnake with Berlin-based theater group Grotest Maru.

Assistance from Denali Schmidt.



     Itinerant Structures: Traveling Medicine Show was a collaborative live-action performance created for dOCUMENTA(13) that peddled intellectual curatives and exploited the mysteries of Western expansion. As a transient venture, it offered travelers food and drink in exchange for the audience’s comments regarding the current state of world economic, social and political situations. The main characters included a disaster puppeteer wielding tornados, earthquakes and floods, a feral nurse, a doctora who was a cross between MD and a shaman, a bureaucrat and a press man.  As the work juxtaposed notions of itinerancy…wilderness, disruptive weather, charlatan travelers, and show people, against the domestic… social/political structures, shared meals, nursing and medicine, it simultaneously employed and dismantled structures of democracy, linear thought, artful imagination and the ridiculous. The performative action pushed against charlatan aspects of 19thc. medicine show history, and the particular ecologic and economic issues of contemporary times. It created spectacle, exploited desire and offered a forum in the interest of breaking through intellectual straitjackets.