Modus Operandi

The Performative Hotel Room
Hotel Schwarzschmied

Hannes Egger, Modus Operandi (Foto: Andreas Marini)

The first moment of entering a hotel room is always special. The guest and the room encounter each other for the first time at the threshold of the entrance. Within seconds, a number of wishes, desires, and expectations may be fulfilled or arise, or give way to disappointment.

The human body and its corporeality delineate this space, but in a particular way is also exposed to it, and appears along with it. Space or spatiality has a principal effect on our being. In terms of everyday experience, two basic categories can be perceived: the geometry of the space, namely, its size, form and dimensions and its atmosphere, and alongside this the barely comprehensible sum of sensations, impressions, and moods that constitute a particular space. In this respect, a room, including a hotel room, is never empty – it is always a subjectively experienced and qualitative entity of its own, to which the individual subject brings a full tapestry of references.

This relationship can occur in a novel and very private way each time. The hotel room is an intimate space of opportunities. Michel Foucault counts the hotel as being among the heterotopias, as it certainly fulfills the criteria of a place outside all places, i.e. a space of crisis or deviation in which one is somebody else, a place where alternative life plans can be tried. This space of transit or intercourse is thus also a kind of stage on which the disused sides of the identity can be performed. The hotel room as a place of beauty and fear always awakens the sense of phantasy, as it is by definition an unusual place.

Performance art deals artistically and intensively with the constitution of the human body and the relationship of one’s own body with the surrounding space, by exhibiting situational, action-oriented and ephemeral artistic performances. This art form questions the separable context of artist and art work as well as the commodity-based nature of the traditional art work. The idea of performance art was born in the United States in the 1960s, and is understood to include artistic events that are beyond the traditional notions of both performing and visual arts. Precursors of performance art can be found in the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, such as Futurism and Dadaism, but also in the Neo-Dada activities and Japanese Gutai movement of the 1950s. Modus Operandi is a performance in which the performer is not the artist but you, the visitor. Whether you choose to document this performance, photographically or in other form, is entirely up to you.

The hotel room is the concrete location of encounter and examination for Modus Operandi. Like all intentionally functionalist designed rooms, hotel rooms are places that predestine many things. They represent not only a variety of ideas concerning holidays and hospitality, but also concepts of how guests should behave in a specific place, how they use these rooms, by sleeping, showering, washing, reading, etc.

By Modus Operandi, the hotel room can and should be adapted in a new and unexpected way. In each room, there are several sets of drawn instructions, which lead to different body postures and experiences, and thus render the room as a performative space. The hotel room is to be understood as a heterotopia, a place of deviation and new staging, a place of trial and discovery.

Hotel Schwarzschmied
Schmiedgasse 6
39011 Lana (BZ)


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