Acting, reacting and reenacting: Ann-Marie Lesquene’s At Table


Ann-Marie LeQuesne, organizer of reenactments based on real or fictional events, just did a project, At Table, bringing to life an illustration from the medieval Master of Dresden Prayer Book (1475-80). The re-enactment on June 28 in London was photographed and filmed and both will be available in the future but aren’t yet, so here’s a bit about the project to whet the appetite.

Ann-Marie Lequesne, At Table
At Table, page from the Master of Dresden’s Prayer Book, re-enacted June 28 in St. Etheldreda’s Crypt.

The painting for the reenactment is a storytelling image illustrating the virtues of temperance and the sins of intemperance, personified by two groups of people. Seated at high table is a group of prim and proper folks dining in the upright manner. The low table shows over-drinking and “loose” behavior — no, no, no.

Ann-Marie Lequesne, At Table
Costumes for At Table

At Table’s subject is how society teaches people to manage their behavior. Sit straight, be moderate, don’t fall down and all will be right with the world. The theme of proper behavior and improper behavior is great since we’re now at a time when manners don’t matter and good behavior is mostly scoffed at; bad behavior is mostly glorified; and today’s teachers about behavior are television and video games!

The project was supported by Parabola, a commissioning and curatorial organization, and all I can say is we need such a group here too!

Ann-Marie LeQuesne in front of her photo of the Reenactment of the Execution of the Emperor Maximilian. This was at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery in 2006.
Ann-Marie LeQuesne in front of her photo of the Reenactment of the Execution of the Emperor Maximilian. This was at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery in 2006.

I met LeQuesne in 2006 when she was in Philadelphia to stage a reenactment of The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian on the Art Museum steps. She also had an exhibit at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery of the other Emperor Maximilian reenactments she’d done in London and elsewhere. The artist’s all about reality/fiction and the way history is passed down. She’s also about community, and her reenactments are open call stagings where she considers the participants her collaborators.  And each participant gets a photograph of their re-enactment.

Eve Sussman
Eve Sussman’s 89 Seconds at Alcazar, projected at Main Line Art Center in 2006 in the group show Transformer, works from the West Collection.

Lequesne is not the only person making reenactments although her communitarian aim is strikingly different from, for example, Eve Sussman’s reenactments.  Sussman’s works seem to be about commenting on art history or on cinema. Sussman’s 89 Seconds at Alcazar, a reenactment of Velazquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas was seen here locally at Main Line Art Center in 2006, and it’s a knockout piece, every bit as cinematic as a Hollywood history flick and every bit as painterly as Velazquez.

LeQuesne’s source material is vernacular — the prayer book for At Table, the tourist postcard for Emperor Maximilian, and group photographs in general for her Annual Group Photo project. That spirit of art woven together with ordinary life pushes LeQuesne’s projects into a zone where art can live and be part of the discussion again with everybody at table. And that’s just great.


ann marie lequesne, at table



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