Jasper Delbecke is an art and theatre scholar whose academic work attests to a curiosity in how the (performing) arts deal with past events and the politics of representation of personal, local, national or global histories. From this interest, he has a scholarly fascination for innovative forms of documentary theatre, new modes of storytelling, the format of the lecture performance and the conceptualization of (semi-)fictive exhibitions or museums. Delbecke has published on these subject matters in Performance Research, Performance Philosophy, Theatre and Performance Design, Testimony: Between History and Memory, Documenta: Tijdschrift voor Theater, Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism and MIRAJ. Moving Image Review & Art Journal.
In August 2023, Delbecke obtained his doctoral degree in Art Studies in August 2023 at Ghent University, having previously earned his Bachelor of Arts in Art Studies (2013) and Master of Arts in Art Studies (2014) at the same institution. In 2010, he finished his Professional Bachelor in Education, specialising in history and arts at Artevelde Hogeschool (Gent).
Delbecke's research Tracing the Essay in Performing Arts. Five Essay Pieces, funded by the FWO (Research Foundation - Flanders), has revolved around the emergence of "the essay" as a form, concept, and method within the field of performing arts during the mid-2010s. Drawing inspiration from the rich tradition of the literary essay and informed by the contemporary proliferation of the essay form across cinematic (essay film), photographic (photographic essay), installation-based (essay-installation), and exhibition-related (essay-exhibition) domains, Delbecke meticulously dissected the reasons behind and manifestations of this form within the field of performing arts during this specific era. Through the lens of five distinct artistic practices – those of Muraya Ogutu, Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere, Ho Rui An, Mobile Akademie Berlin, and Jozef Wouters/Decoratelier – Delbecke scrutinized the formal elements present in these works. Furthermore, he examined how artists have turned to the essay form and/or adopted an essayistic mode of working in response to the activist imperative prevalent in socially and politically engaged forms of theatre, performance, and the broader arts landscape since the turn of the millennium.
In the context of his FWO-funded research, Delbecke convened the international conference titled From the Scenic Essay to the Essay-Exhibition held in Ghent from April 27 to 29, 2022. This event was the first of its kind, exploring the dissemination of the essay form in the arts beyond the realms of literature and film. The three-day conference brought together scholars and artists from diverse academic and artistic backgrounds to examine various engagements with the essay form across different artistic disciplines. In July 2023, the corresponding book, From The Scenic Essay to the Essay-Exhibition was published, featuring a selection of contributions presented at the conference.
Prior to commencing his doctoral research in 2018, Delbecke held various roles in several theatre companies. As a resident dramaturg, he was an integral part of the artistic teams at workspacebrussels (2015-2017), Action Zoo Humain (2015-2016), and SoAP Maastricht (2017-2018). During this time, he balanced his freelance commitments with teaching positions at various educational institutions.
From October 2023 until January 2024, Delbecke serves as a part-time guest professor at the Department of Art History, Musicology, and Theatre Studies at Ghent University.
2018-2019: Theoretical masterseminar at HoGent/KASK School of Arts. Tracing the Essay in contemporary theatre and performance practices
2019-2020: Research Seminar: Performance Theory (Ghent University)
2023-2024: Geschiedenis van het Moderne Theater
Jasper Delbecke is one of the initiators for the international conference From the scenic essay to the essay-exhibition. Expanding the essay form in the arts after literature and film. (27 - 29 April 2022), co-organized with research centre S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts and Media (Ghent University) and KASK & Conservatorium (HOGENT – Howest).