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From Critique to Creation: Theory of the Subject's Place in Trond Reinholdtsen's Institutionally Critical Oeuvre

Voss, Emerson (2024) From Critique to Creation: Theory of the Subject's Place in Trond Reinholdtsen's Institutionally Critical Oeuvre. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Trond Reinholdtsen (b. 1972) has fashioned an intricately fantastical music-theatrical world that provokes listeners to ponder the conditions of their own world and dares them to imagine what a different society could look like. Approached from theatrical, musical, and political analytical viewpoints, my dissertation places Reinholdtsen’s intermedia piano concerto Theory of the Subject (2016; Theory) at the inflection point of his institutionally critical oeuvre.

Before Theory, Reinholdtsen premiered three works which were essential to the development of music-theatrical techniques for expressing his institutional criticisms. Blending elements of concerto, performance art, art theory, art installation, live video, and political messaging, Theory is the culmination of these acquired methods.

As a peculiar artwork of institutional critique, Theory levels its critique, not so much at the institution in which the artwork is positioned, but at the world which creates the conditions for the failures of that institution. Theory’s theatrical narrative is the story of New Music piano soloist Ellen Ugelvik’s struggle (and failure) to play truly new and socially transformative music within a neoliberal world.

Through its ridicule by the Facebook group “Sløseriombudsmannen” and its inclusion in Morten Traavik’s theater work Sløserikommisjonen (2021), Theory helped bring Norway into on-going polarizing (though important) debates about the status and role of public art in Norwegian society. After Theory, Reinholdtsen felt he had exhausted institutional critique’s usefulness for his work and decided to focus solely on the creation of his own institution, The Norwegian Opra, and its Ø series (wherein a ragtag group of societal outcasts tries to form a utopian society).

Reinholdtsen’s political stance aligns with Berlin’s Dadaism yet differentiates itself by embracing sincerity and vulnerability. The power of Reinholdtsen’s work resides in how he combines artforms and political, cultural, and scholarly thought to allow others to experience the state of our world through his extraordinary particularity.

My original intermedia music-theatrical composition Repetition Exercise: A Play in Three Lectures (2024) for pianist, performance artist, orator, interactive lighting, synced video, and installation enclosure investigates how interactions between text, speech, and music influence socially inflected realities outside (Lecture I), between, (Lecture II), and within (Lecture III) ourselves.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Voss, Emersonefv6@pitt.eduefv60009-0004-6322-8165
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMoe,
Committee MemberGeorge,
Committee MemberRosenblum,
Committee MemberBloechl,
Committee MemberWilliams,
Date: 13 May 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 February 2024
Approval Date: 13 May 2024
Submission Date: 5 April 2024
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 123
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jennifer Walshe, Johannes Kreidler, Neo-Dada, anarcho-primitivism, Fluxus, Sandris Murins, Are Søberg, hypertheatre, Oslo, mimetic exacerbation, Hal Foster, conceptual art, photomontage, Wagner, Adorno, Arendt, Norges musikkhøgskole, pastiche, quotation, musical quotation, musical pastiche, communism, leftist, left, Alain Badiou, Hegel, Che Guevara, capitalism, Mahler hammer, Marx, Lenin, destruction, neo-primitivism, serialism, the New Discipline, allusion, spectralism, black comedy, slapstick, institutional critique, Berlin, Julian Blaue, The New Discipline, Faust or the decline of Western Music, Musik, Inferno, Direct Address, theater, theatre, Followers of Ø, Ø, Neo-Hippie-Interventionistische-Anti-Internet-Peripherie-Welttournee-Roadshow, Norwegian Opra, Kulturrådet, National Endowment for the Arts, freedom, John Cage, Lang Lang, Madame Mao, Boris Groys, Håkon Stene, upright piano, piano destruction, instrument destruction, Dante, Messiaen, Webern, Terry Riley, In C, Variationen, Mode de valeurs et d’intensités, Mode of values and intensities, Parsifal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, midlife crisis, serialism, Helmut Lachenmann, lip-syncing, lip-sync, telepathy, score instruction, musical score, algorithmic music, Cathrine Winnes, Luciano Berio, Sinfonia, orchestra, extended techniques, The Quest for the Holy Grail, psychological, theatrical narrative, music theater, music theatre, experimental music theatre, experimental music theater, artistic research, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Klavierstück IX, Gérard Grisey, Kaija Saariaho, Google, Meta, super PACs, dark money, Jeff Koon, Takashi Murakami, late capitalism, megacorporation, mega corporation, Polemics, pyscho-political, Charles Rosen, Michael Fried, Oswald Spengler, Mark Knoop, psychology, meta narrative, metanarrative, theatrical stand-in, Yellow River, Richard Strauss, Ein Heldenleben, flashback, Musique Concrète Instrumentale, artistic movement, political movement
Additional Information: My dissertation has a musical composition as part of it. On the final page of the dissertation the title of the musical work should hyperlink to a pdf of the score of the work.
Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 13:58
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 13:58

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