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Storming of the Winter Palace: History as Theater

23.09.2017 - 25.10.2017
Gessnerallee Zürich, Gessnerallee 8, 8001 Zürich

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, the exhibition “Storming of the Winter Palace: History as Theater” curated by Sylvia Sasse and Inke Arns is dedicated to the photograph, which more than any other, has become the symbol of this revolution: the Storming of the Winter Palace. However, the photo does not stem from the historic event itself, but from a theatrical reenactment, which was executed by the theater director Nikolai Evreinov in 1920.


The exhibition presents film footage and photographs of the reenactment of 1920 as well as the photo’s process of becoming a document in the writing of Soviet history, in picture and school books, and on posters.


Revolution Talks

September 26, 8 pm | Waldemar Fydrych (Orange Alternative)

October 10, 8 pm | Oxana Timofeeva (Chto delat’)

October 24, 8 pm | Milo Rau

Nikolai Evreinov

(1879–1953), theater theorist, director, and playwright, who gained renown with his theories on the “natural” theatricality of human beings, “theater as such,” and “theater for itself.” His plays—monodramas and pieces that staged his idea of theater therapy—were rather aesthetically conventional. Evreinov already became involved in replications and reenactments at the Starinnyi Theater (Antiquarian Theater), which he co-founded and where he reconstructed and reenacted historical performances. Even after emigrating to Paris in 1924, he monitored the theatricalization of the Soviet Union, writing among other things a piece about show trials entitled The Steps of Nemesis (Shagi nemezidy), which reenacted them as theater. Evreinov was the head director for The Storming of the Winter Palace, “commandeered” for this purpose from the military.
Inke Arns (ed.), Igor Chubarov (ed.), ...: Nikolaj Evreinov: »Sturm auf den Winterpalast«

1920, zum dritten Jahrestag der Oktoberrevolution, wurde in Petrograd der »Sturm auf den Winterpalast« mit 10.000 Mitwirkenden aufgeführt. Das Massenspektakel unter der Leitung von Nikolaj Evreinov war eine Art falsches, trügerisches Reenactment. Es sollte an etwas erinnern, den Sturm auf den Winterpalast als Beginn der Revolution, das es selbst theatral und medial erst produzierte. Der Band rekonstruiert das Theaterereignis mit Texten, Fotografien und Zeichnungen und zeigt, wie nicht nur in der Sowjetunion aus dem Foto vom theatralen »Sturm« ein historisches Dokument der Oktober­revolution geworden ist.