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Franziska Bork-Petersen

Franziska Bork-Petersen


Franziska Bork Petersen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies (IKK), funded by Det Frie Forskningsråd. She holds a PhD in Theatre Studies from Stockholm University and Freie Universität Berlin. Franziska teaches and supervises topics relating to performance, dance, fashion, gender and the body. 

Current research

In her postdoc project The Body in/as Utopia, Franziska explores the paradoxical relation between utopianism and the human body. Utopias articulate a desire for a different, better way of being and living. But while desirable, it is implied that utopias are impossible. Drawing on performance studies, cultural and gender studies, and recent theoretical developments in utopian studies, she asks: What are the differences between classic and contemporary utopias and what is the body’s respective place in them? What effects have changes in artistic and everyday notions of ‘a better life’ had on utopian visions of the body? What makes for a utopian body in a given medium? Franziska explores how in practices such as bodybuilding and the use of plastic surgery, but also in performance artworks bodies can themselves become sites for utopia (such as the bodies’ disappearance in Eszter Salamon’s Tales of the Bodiless, 2011; Mette Ingvartsen’s Evaporated Landscapes, 2009, and The Artificial Nature Project, 2012; or Stille teater by Kirstine Roepstorff, 2008). Using theory about body modification and close readings of utopian artworks she investigates this contradiction: utopia encapsulates an impossible ideal – the body by its very existence is possible.

In her dissertation Authenticity and its Contemporary Challenges. On Techniques of Staging Bodies from 2013 Franziska investigated what ‘authenticity’ means in a contemporary popular context and how it is used in the staging of bodies. Furthermore, the thesis analysed works of dance and fashion from the past fifteen years with a focus on their strategies of challenging the notion of ‘bodily authenticity’. The thesis was awarded a prize for outstanding academic achievement by the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities (Kungl. Vitterhetsakademien).

Primary fields of research

Franziska Bork Petersen’s primary research interests include contemporary dance and performance, body modification, fashion, gender studies and utopianism. In addition, she has researched, taught and published on curating art and museum visitors’ movement in exhibition spaces. 

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