Exhibition at Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin
Oct 2, 2020 – Nov 29, 2020
Théa © Sven Marquardt

Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin presents the exhibition SVEN MARQUARDT . STAGELESS in collaboration with C/O Berlin from October 2, 2020 to November 29, 2020. The exhibition is on view at the foyer of Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin, Friedrichstraße 107, 10117 Berlin. The admission is free and the exhibition is open daily from 11 a.m.–08 p.m.
Please book your time slot in advance here.

A dancer’s intense stare is aimed squarely at the camera. Her dark hair has been tucked into a hairnet. A voluminous black winter coat weighs down on her shoulders. Beneath it peeks out a recently discarded blonde wig and a psychedelically patterned black-and-white costume.

In October 2019, Sven Marquardt took portraits of international ensemble members of Friedrichstadt-Palast just after a performance. In some portraits, the posture and expression show the subject is still on an adrenaline high, whereas others reveal more intimate moments. Marquardt shows an unprettified take on the transition from the dramatic, mask-like stage character to the tense, tired dancers’ faces after the show. The images exist at the boundary between illusion and reality, reflecting effort and exhaustion, pride and disappointment. Some pictures include items such as special shoes worn while performing on a trapeze or a costume looking less than glamorous now it has been cast aside. These images allow a brief glimpse behind the curtain of the world’s largest theater stage, whose kaleidoscope of colors enthralls over 500,000 audience members each year. Marquardt’s portraits capture the fluid transformation of performers setting aside their practiced repertoire of stage expressions to reveal their true faces. Less than six months after the portrait shooting, the artists shown lost their familiar stage when all performances had to be cancelled until December due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this collaboration between the Palast and C/O Berlin makes clear that a performing arts venue unable to mount an independent program of shows due to the COVID-19 crisis is nevertheless very capable of staging a one-of-a-kind event. By transforming into an exhibition space, the Palast gives its visitors a chance to take a photographic peek behind the curtain.


Sven Marquardt
(b. 1962) has made his name internationally as the photographic chronicler of identities and curator of clubgoers on Berlin’s techno scene. His works draw on fashion photographs by Sibylle Bergemann and Ute Mahler for the East German magazine Sibylle and on well-known works by Peter Lindbergh, while developing a unique visual language. This series was created in collaboration with Klaus Stockhausen, fashion director at ZEITmagazin, and curated by Felix Hoffmann of C/O Berlin. The exhibition comprises roughly sixty-eight portraits in the form of large-format works on canvas and projections. A publication will appear in conjunction with the exhibition.