In general, a so-called re-enactment is a historically correct recreation of socially relevant events, such as important battles or other historical events. In a re-enactment, the audience that normally remain passive or at a certain distance of the documented event become immediate witnesses of a (repeated historical) event, which unfolds in front of their eyes, or they become participants in an action, in which they actively participate.

Unlike popular historical re-enactments, for example, the re-enactment of historical battles, artistic re-enactments are not performative re-stagings of historic situations and events that occurred a long time ago. Rather, events, which are often traumatic ones) are re-enacted that are viewed as very important for the present. Artistic re-enactments are not simply affirming what has happened in the past but questioning the present via repeating or re-enacting historical events that have left their traces in the collective memory. Re-enactments are artistic interrogations of media images that try to scrutinise the reality of the images, while at the same time pointing towards the fact that collective memory is essentially mediated memory.

An interesting example in this context is Jeremy Deller’s re-enactment of the Battle of Orgreave. The event happened in 1984, as part of the miners’ strike and the re-enactment took place in Orgreave, Yorkshire on 15 June 2001 - 17 June 2001, 17 years after the event. For video and photographs of the re-enactment see: and

Sam Jacob (2012) argues that, “If we trace architecture’s history, we can see that … radical re-enactment is a fundamental mode of its development.”

Other sources

History will repeat itself –


Jacob, S. (2012) Make it real: architecture as enactment. Moscow, RU: Strelka Press.