The first performance of RJSaK in summer 2013 coincides with the forming of the collective on the occasion of the event “guess who’s coming to dinner” in the off space “The Proposal” in Zurich. Participating artist Mo Diener extended her invitation to several friends and performed with the newly constituted group on four evenings in this contemporary art space. Tableaux (très) vivants relates to the traditional bourgeois colonial eye of the portrait photographer of the 19th century. The concept of the performance consists of a détournement of the viewer by means of the camera lens, in which the performer’s self-determination is greatly enhanced while allowing the multiplicity of the audience to become part of any self-definition.
The setting is based on research in 19th century portrait photography in Switzerland. In 1852 – shortly after the foundation of the Swiss nation-state, portrait photographer and lithographer Carl Durheim accepted a mandate by the federal prosecutor to take mug shots of all prisoners made during a large-scale federal action in view of controlling travelers, homeless persons and carneys. Carl Durheim’s photographic records establishes a direct tie between the history of the Swiss state and the history of portrait photography in the service of prosecution of the poor and other undesired forms of existence in Switzerland. He goes down as the inventor of police photography in Europe.