Open Studio

The Burghers of Calais: Re-creating Rodin’s famous sculpture

by , November 2015


In this project students re-create the well-known 1889 sculpture by Auguste Rodin as a performance and video sculpture.


Performance, video


Blank DVD (optional), tripod, video camera, video monitor or TV, video tape

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Designed by practicing artists, the Open Studio classroom activities aim to connect high school teachers and students with key ideas and issues in contemporary art. See all of the Open Studio activities.


Auguste Rodin's The Burghers of Calais


Your class will divide into groups of 8–10 students. Within each group, 6 of the students will be performers and the rest will be cameramen/women or directors.

  • With your group, study photos of Auguste Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais. These photos can easily be found on the Internet or in books about Rodin’s work.
  • Next, select a site for your group’s version of the Rodin sculpture, such as the courtyard of your school or another place suitable for public art.
  • With guidance from the directors, the six performers will reenact the poses of the figures in Rodin’s sculpture, while the camera operators situate the camera in a way that captures the scene created by the actors. (Costumes are not necessary.)


  • Recording begins once the performers and camera are in place, and continues for 5 minutes. The performers hold their pose for an additional 5 seconds after the director gives a signal to stop recording, and then conclude their performance.
  • Try transferring the recording to a looping DVD. This can be accomplished with DVD Studio Pro.


  • The DVD or videotape is played back on a TV or video monitor.
  • Depending on the number of groups in the class, 2 to 3 Rodin video sculptures are shown simultaneously on 2 to 3 monitors/TVs.
  • The TVs and monitors should be set up in the school courtyard if weather permits, or moved to another public area of the school.

Kota Ezawa

Kota Ezawa, Kota, from the series The History of Photography Remix, 2006; Collection SFMOMA, Ruth Nash Fund purchase © Kota Ezawa

Kota Ezawa

Born in 1969 in Cologne, Germany Currently lives in San Francisco, California; and Berlin, Germany As a high school student Ezawa was the singer of a punk band named "The Plot." In those years he also began making large-scale action paintings inspired by Jackson Pollock. Ezawa went on to study art in Düsseldorf, Germany, and at the San Francisco Art Institute and Stanford University. He is now a film professor at the California College of the Arts and his work has been exhibited in many parts of the world.
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