Archive for the performance Category

It’s like… He talks a bit and she dances a bit: ‘Shown And Told’ (Meg Stuart & Tim Etchells)

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, performance with tags , , , , on January 28, 2017 by Utopia Parkway


“I dance because I wanted to be a magician but I’m not good with stuff”, Meg Stuart tells the audience, somewhere along Show And Told, her collaboration with Tim Etchells. If the piece proves one thing, it’s how good the American choreographer and the British (performance) artist actually are with stuff. Be it other stuff. Movement stuff. Language stuff.

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Making the ungraspable tangible. Or how Romeo Castellucci gets his ‘Minister’s Black Veil’ right the second time

Posted in performance, theatre with tags , , , on December 28, 2016 by Utopia Parkway


When was the last time these people had been queuing up to get into a church? Not to admire a unique painting or a stained glass window, but for a real service? Just a thought, as I was standing on the steps of Antwerp’s Sint-Michiels church, watching the crowd, waiting for the doors to open, thinking about religion, theatre and rituals. Three things I was sure this evening was going to be about. The Minister’s Black Veil. Five years ago Romeo Castellucci tried to stage it, but he failed. So I was really curious to see what he would do this time, with the help of American actor Willem Dafoe.

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Mourning in a museum of another kind: ‘Moeder’ (Mother) by Peeping Tom

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, performance, theatre with tags , , , , on November 24, 2016 by Utopia Parkway


A painting starts to bleed, a sculpture comes to life, and isn’t that coffee machine behaving rather strangely? Welcome to Peeping Tom‘s universe, where “normal” is a concept that doesn’t seem to exist. With Moeder (Mother) the Brussels-based company once again puts on stage a piece resembling a surreal dream, in which one strange event follows the next.

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Where’s that Rauschenberg? The paintings are on the move! “Répétition” at Villa Empain (Brussels)

Posted in art, contemporary art, contemporary dance, performance on August 9, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

Repetition_VillaEmpain_11That first view was rather disconcerting. A guy was walking away carrying a canvas. Other paintings stood on the floor, rather randomly, backs against the wall. Did I arrive too late? Was the exhibition already over? But then the guy came back and introduced himself. “I will be your host today. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate.” Euhm, yes: the paintings? “I’m moving them around”, he said, smilingly. “It’s all part of the exhibition. If you’re unable to locate a specific work of art: just ask.” And off he went. Suddenly I noticed that one of the other visitors had begun to move rather strangely, in the hall of that ever so grand Villa Empain (Brussels). You’re in for a few surprises, if you visit Répétition uninformed (through August 21).

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What happens when dance is governed by another set of rules? Some thoughts on ‘Work/Travail/Arbeid’ by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (Wiels, Brussels)

Posted in art, contemporary art, dance, performance with tags , , on June 18, 2015 by Utopia Parkway


What happens when dance is governed by another set of rules? Well, you get a hype, to begin with. More than 24.000 people went to see Work/Travail/Arbeid by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker during the nine weeks it was on at Wiels contemporary art centre, Brussels. The exhibition was one of this year’s best ‘performances’ a jury of Flemish critics decided, and so there will be a short rerun at Wiels in September, for Het Theaterfestival in Brussels. In 2016 Work/Travail/Arbeid will be presented by Centre Pompidou (Paris) and Tate Modern (London). I went to Wiels several times, trying to figure out why people were so drawn to this. These are my thoughts.

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A zen thing to do: paying a visit to Marino Formenti’s piano chapel during Performatik

Posted in art, music, performance with tags , on March 19, 2015 by Utopia Parkway

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I was on my way to my yoga class around the corner, but decided to skip it yesterday, as something odd had caught my attention. A guy in a room playing the piano, next to some mattresses on the floor. I opened the door, sat down, and listened. Other people dropped by, and left. Whenever the guy had finished playing a piece, he scribbled the title of it on one of the white walls. Without speaking. ‘A kind of pagan chapel where life and music can become one’, that’s how pianist/conductor/performer Marino Formenti describes his project nowhere. For 12 days he will reside in the Zsenne art lab (through Sunday March 29). He will be sleeping, eating and playing there. It’s one of the many projects of this year’s edition of Performatik, Kaaitheater’s performance art biennial. Want a zen moment? Go and listen (10am-10 pm, 2 Rue Anneessensstraat), as this is more than a gimmick: Formenti really is a great pianist. Not living in Brussels? Watch (and listen to) the livestream, here. I’m already addicted.

Why go to Amsterdam? Jan Mot (Brussels) presents award-winning piece by Tino Sehgal

Posted in art, contemporary art, contemporary dance, performance on February 10, 2015 by Utopia Parkway

JanMot_TinoSehgal_YetUntitled_2012Three interpreters sitting on the floor, moving slowly, making clicking sounds, singing; everything happening in a strange slow motion kind of way. Did I really hear the guy singing Destiny’s Child’s Say My Name? Did I see that girl throwing a lasso Gangnam Style? In 2015 Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is presenting a major survey of the work of Tino Sehgal: A Year At The Stedelijk, 12 presentations in 12 months. But for those of you living in Brussels: you don’t need to go to Amsterdam if you want to get to know the work of this art world darling and Turner Prize nominee (2013). Gallery Jan Mot is currently presenting Yet Untitled (2012), through February 28, a piece that was featured in the official Venice Biennale exhibition in 2013. Sehgal even won the Golden Lion for best artist for it. Want more info on Yet Untitled? You’ll find an interview at the end of this clip. Two rules from the unwritten Tino Sehgal crash course, for when you go to Jan Mot: don’t call this a performance, and, as always: pictures not allowed.

What’s that camel doing near the Royal Palace? A strange parade courtesy Pierre Leguillon, or: Teatrino Palermo on the move

Posted in art, contemporary art, performance with tags , , , , on February 8, 2015 by Utopia Parkway

Wiels_SIC_TeatrinoPalermo I wonder what the Belgian king would have made of it, would he have opened a window of the Royal Palace, Saturday morning. A camel, carrying a puppet theatre? Near the palace, in the streets of Brussels? Many passers-by were wondering the same thing. What? It was a strange parade indeed, set up by Wiels, (SIC) and French (Brussels-based) artist Pierre Leguillon, in the frame of his Museum of Mistakes exhibition at Wiels (through February 22). The camel is a reference to the camel Marcel Broodthaers put in the lobby of the Palais de Beaux-Arts (Brussels) in 1974. The puppet theatre is a copy (courtesy Pierre Leguillon) of a miniature theatre made by Blinky Palermo (a friend of Broodthaers) in 1964. And where did the camel start his tour with the so-called Teatrino Palermo, on Saturday? Right: Rue de la Pepinière, where Broodthaers used to live, and also the place where the Belgian artist opened his alternative Musée d’art moderne in 1968. And where did the camel go to? Rue Ravenstein, where the theatre was exhibited in 1988, at Marie-Puck Broodthaers’ gallery. Yep: toying with references, concepts such as reproduction, re-enactment, movement and means of presentation… that’s Leguillon.

Exploding buckets and erupting volcanos, or ‘J’ai toujours voulu rencontrer un volcan’, by Gwendoline Robin

Posted in art, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, performance with tags , , on May 23, 2014 by Utopia Parkway

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All of a sudden: a fire, and a gust of heat that makes you quickly step back. Or how Gwendoline Robin succeeds, seemingly out of nothing, in what she set out to do: to arrange an encounter with a volcano for you. J’ai toujours voulu rencontrer un volcan, is the title of her performance: I’ve always wanted to meet a volcano. The Belgian visual/performance artist premiered it during Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), at a fitting location: the huge, empty customs depots of Tour & Taxis.

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Straight-facedly in search of the superlative of slow motion: Maria Hassabi’s ‘Premiere’

Posted in dance, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, performance with tags , , , on May 13, 2014 by Utopia Parkway


Funny how the dullest evenings in a theater can be the ones that stay with you the longest. Whereas the only thing you could think while you were watching the performance, was: hope this ends soon. But when you’re home, you realize the questions keep your mind busy. Why on earth did they do what they were doing? What was it they wanted me to experience? Premiere, by Cyprus-born, New York-based, director/choreographer Maria Hassabi, whose work (aptly described by The Financial Times) ‘appears as often in white boxes as in black’.

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A 92-year-old lady, an anarchist, an Afghan refugee, 51 women and 49 men, ánd one dog: ‘100% Brussels’ (Rimini Protokoll)

Posted in Kunstenfestivaldesarts, performance, theatre with tags , , on May 8, 2014 by Utopia Parkway


You wonder how they pull it off. On stage: 100 people, a group that is an exact representation of the city these 100 individuals are living in, Brussels. Women, men, older people (the oldest participant is 92) and children. Belgian citizens and foreigners, and of course a couple of illegal immigrants. (That’s why there are actually… 105 people on stage.) Through the answers all of them give to lots of questions 100% Brussels should teach you a thing or two about Brussels. The performance, by Berlin-based Rimini Protokoll, was one of the opening performances of this year’s Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels).

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An unusual poster campaign and a pink carpet: Kunstenfestivaldesarts takes over Brussels

Posted in art, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, performance, theatre on May 2, 2014 by Utopia Parkway

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Don’t get annoyed if someone is staring into your eyes too intently, one of these. He or she is just obeying the orders of Tim Etchells, one of the guests of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), kicking off tonight and running through May 24. Apart from an exhibition and a performance the British artist, known for his theatre work with Forced Entertainment, presents a poster campaign with quotes from people who are for one reason or the other not allowed to vote on May 25 (election day in Belgium). ‘Don’t forget to look other people in the eyes’ is one of them. This year the festival center (box office, bar, party’s…) is located at an unusual place: the old Marivaux cinema (Boulevard A. Max 98). Do look at the floor, as you’re entering the building: the pink carpet has been chosen by Belgian visual artist duo Sarah & Charles. They have decorated the rest of the place as well, and named their project The Cover-Up.  As I paid the center a visit earlier today, they were still constructing and painting several of their props. Remarkable for this international contemporary theatre and dance festival: about a third of all productions is by local artists or international guests who present projects focused on Brussels. All info here.


Kaleidoscopic sketchbook from outer space: ‘Sketches/Notebook’ by Meg Stuart & Damaged Goods

Posted in art, dance, performance with tags , , on December 9, 2013 by Utopia Parkway


A cowbell, lots of marbles rolling over the floor, a bag lady from outer space, and a drum kit producing sound without a drummer. I promise it will happen to you too. After Sketches/Notebook by Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods, you’ll find yourself sitting in the bar, with a smile on your face, humming the theme of a big blockbuster movie, slighty confused, trying to remember all the things you’ve just seen. Serious? Sketches/Notebook is a dance performance with such a kaleidoscopic scope that it ends up being something much more than a dance piece. Art collectors should be bidding for it.

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Leaving Brussels… to win a ‘special mention’ at the Venice Biennale (with Lithuanian pavilion)

Posted in art, performance on June 4, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

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So, Berlinde De Bruyckere hasn’t brought that Golden Lion home, for Belgium. But in a remote way we are linked to one of the winners at the Venice Biennale. Because there’s a link between Belgium and Lithuania, winner of a special mention for ‘an original curatorial format’, a pavilion set up jointly with Cyprus. Two of the commissioners of the Lithuanian pavilion are Aurimé Aleksandraviciute and Jonas Zakaitis, who used to run Tulips & Roses, a hip gallery in Brussels. Raimundas Malasauskas, the pavilion’s curator, was one of the artists they represented.
Theirs is a pavilion of a different kind, certainly worth a visit (close to the Arsenale), as it is housed in a sports hall. As I visited it, I wasn’t sure what was part of the exhibition and what not. That poster on the floor certainly was, but that cleaning robot? (As a matter of fact: it’s called Roomba, and it is). At the center of the exhibition you’ll find walls shipped from several European museums (Cousins, by Dutch artist Gabriel Lester). Some of them are from Wiels (Brussels). During the opening days choreographer/performance artist Maria Hassabi was performing Intermission (she recently premiered Counter-relief at Kaaitheater’s Performatik festival, Brussels).
Do get lost in the building and you might be in for another slightly surreal surprise, as you might be running into cleaning ladies first, and then groups of teenagers, training in one of the other halls.

The fungi are taking over the asylum: ‘MUSH-ROOM’ (Grace Ellen Barkey & Needcompany)

Posted in dance, performance, theatre with tags , , , on April 28, 2013 by Utopia Parkway


‘What is the purpose of this gathering?’, one of the performers asked, at the beginning. Halfway through MUSH-ROOM, by Grace Ellen Barkey & Needcompany, I still hadn’t found a decent answer to that question. Sure: those giant, dangling mushrooms were wonderful to look at, and that music by American cult band The Residents gelled well with the weird, absurd and exuberant party I had been watching. But apart from that? MUSH-ROOM was dragging and the piece struggled to make it to the end.

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A (wo)man is a dog is a (wo)man: Antonia Baehr’s acoustic exploration of two parallel lives

Posted in Kunstenfestivaldesarts, performance with tags , , , on March 9, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

Antonia Baerh (photo: Julie Pagnier)She took a sip of water and then she started talking. Barking. Talkbarking. Or should I say: barksinging, because she was reading from a score on a music stand, as if she was performing a piece of classical music. It was the last part of a performance in which Antonia Baehr had been juxtaposing the life of her mother and that of her mother’s dog Tocki. Baehr: a German performer with a keen interest in gender, personae, languages and codes. Herself – an androgyne mix of male and female elements – a walking example of the things she’s interested in. The strongest element of My dog is my piano? Not so much the content as the ”musicality” of it. As in the first part, in which she was mixing as a dj, vinyl records playing sounds of her mother and her dog. You’ll be able to discover much more of Baehr’s remarkable universe, as Beursschouwburg (Brussels) presents a retrospective of her work: Make Up, named after Baehr’s production company (through May 25). Baehr will also bring Rire/Laugh, which she has performed at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels) in 2009. Utopia’s review of that performance here. Baehr will premiere a new performance during this year’s Kunstenfestival: Abecedarium Bestiarium.


Calling upon the patron saint of insomniacs: Vincent Dunoyer & Berlinde De Bruyckere

Posted in art, performance with tags , , , , on March 4, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

'Onze Lieve Vrouw Van Vaak' (Vincent Dunoyer & Berlinde De Bruyckere; Kaaitheater, Brussels)

Performance art. Two words I’ve been struggling with last week, as I was watching several performances during Performatik, the Brussels performance art biennial. Performance art: any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer’s body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience, according to Wikipedia. What does a performance need for it to be a good performance? When are you allowed to think: it should have been more. Are the words performance art an excuse for an artist to get away with anything? When can I say: he was just lazy? Questions that popped up again as I was watching the performance everyone wanted a ticket for: Vincent Dunoyer‘s Onze Lieve Vrouw Van Vaak/Notre Dame Du Sommeil, a collaboration with Berlinde De Bruyckere, the acclaimed visual artist representing Belgium at this year’s Venice Biennial.

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Ministry Of Silly Walks opens Brussels bureau, or: Theo Cowley’s ‘On Foot’

Posted in art, performance with tags , , on March 2, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

Theo Cowley's 'On Foot (Red Hat)' (Saint-Hubert Royal Arcade, Brussels)Will anyone of all the tourists passing by have noticed? I don’t think so. And that was what I loved about it. Silently adding something to reality (and thus altering it) and then taking it away again, without anyone noticing. And for those who are in the know: altering, for a moment or so, the way they look at the world. That’s my kind of performance. During forty minutes, yesterday evening, you could see six people walking up and down Saint-Hubertus Royal Arcade (Brussels), but each time they were walking by they did so in another way. Sometimes in a really normal fashion, sometimes in a slightly silly way, but never going for the John Cleese/Monty Python all too silly way (original sketch here). The nice thing about it? For a couple of minutes, before you were able to single out the six performers, everyone passing by was suspect. And after that: you started looking at the way all the tourists and other passers-by were walking. Suddenly everybody became a performer. On Foot (Red Hat), by British visual artist Theo Cowley, created for Performatik, the Brussels performance art biennial (ending today). I’m sure somebody will have had this idea before, but nevertheless: loved it.

Strange situations in a supermarket and weird moments in a museum… just some adventures in performance land

Posted in art, performance with tags , , , on February 25, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

'Borrowed landscape' (fieldworks at Denon Delhaize, Leuven; photo hMp)I’ve seen two adults do strange things with two pieces of blue thread (Trajal Harrell & Sarah Sze) over the weekend. I’ve seen a visual artist and a dancer move wooden planks around (Jimmy Robert & Maria Hassabi) and I’ve become aware of the fact that an air bubble is expanding over Brussels. I’ve learned, during a debate with international museum curators, that when a skeleton is part of a performance in a museum, everybody can touch it, but when the performance is considered to be a work of art, suddenly only specialized personnel is allowed to handle it. As I had seen that wonderful Fault lines by Meg Stuart twice already, I went to a museum to see dancers do weird things with works of art instead. But the image I’ll take with me from my performance filled weekend, is this one. This picture. Just a fragment of a nice performance by fieldworks: Borrowed landscape, in a supermarket in Leuven. Because it’s wonderfully strange and familiar at the same time. Isn’t it what we all want to do, sometimes, after another busy day? Just lay that head down, wherever we are? Even if it is in a supermarket? Artefact (adventures in art, media & music; Leuven) is over, but Performatik, the Brussels performance biennial, continues till March 2.

Happy New Year! Utopia Parkway’s ‘best of 2012’-list! Dancing curtains and circling planets!

Posted in art, performance, photography, sculpture, theatre on January 4, 2013 by Utopia Parkway

Sol LeWitt (M Museum, Leuven; detail)

Happy New Year! And a sincere thank you for following Utopia Parkway. To start things off in a positive way: yes, your beloved Belgian art traveller has made a resolution to drop posts on this blog more often than last year. But first: a slightly alternative best of-list for 2012, featuring dancing curtains, open windows and the desert wind. 

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