Meg Stuart
Damaged Goods
Jozef Wouters/Decoratelier
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Utopia Parkway, It’s like… He talks a bit and she dances a bit - Hans-Maarten Post (28.01.2017)
Jury report 'het Theaterfestival 2017', INFINI 1-15 (31.05.2017)
der Standard, Meg Stuart: Der wüste Schatz einer verlorenen Jägerin - Helmut Ploebst (21.04.2017) [ German ]
Ruhrtriennale Zeitung, It’s in the shape of fire - Jeroen Peeters (06.2017)
Ruhrtriennale Zeitung, Statt Werkstatt - Jeroen Peeters (06.2017) [ German ]
Deutschlandfunk, "Projecting Space" bei der Ruhrtriennale: Mission mit Zweifeln - Nicole Strecker (02.09.2017) [ German ]
NRZ, Ruhrtriennale: Projecting [Space[ überzeugt in Dinslaken - Bettina Schack (01.09.2017) [ German ]
ResMusica, Ruhrtriennale: Projecting [Space[, émouvant mystère de Meg Stuart - Dominique Adrian (07.09.2017) [ French ]
De Morgen, Meg Stuart with Jozef Wouters at Ruhrtriennale: self-igniting spectacle - Pieter T'Jonck (05.09.2017)

Meg Stuart with Jozef Wouters at Ruhrtriennale: self-igniting spectacle

Pieter T'Jonck, De Morgen, 05.09.17

At the end of March, the Molenbeek workshop of scenographer-artist Jozef Wouters played host to Atelier III. During that happening, Meg Stuart, Jeroen Peeters and Wouters tested what a ‘future’ theatre of the imagination might look like. Projecting [Space[, the hallucinatory apotheosis of that quest, was subsequently shown at the Ruhrtriennale.

Dinslaken: a grey city that is filled with countless visible traces of the long-departed steel and mining industries. Johan Simons played Accattone there two years ago, in a huge hall that is now half demolished. In this stony wasteland, Stuart, Peeters and Wouters, together with eight performers and two musicians, set up camp in and around the ruined brick warehouses.

Their performance begins outside, on the paved surface surrounding the building. A couple transform their car into a kind of carnival wagon. Another pair, wearing swimsuits, ride in circles on mountain bikes that are far too small. Poised in the background are two men with a forklift truck and an earth-mover. Others hang on to the machine, or crawl into the digger’s bucket. Sounds assail you from every direction, ranging from dub reggae and soundscapes to simple songs. Passers-by watch the strange, indefinable spectacle from a distance.

A TV-screen full of trinkets

The occupants of the car then lead the audience into the cavernous machine hall where the impressive scale of the building finally becomes visible. Viewed only from the outside up until that point, it had been consumed by the vast surrounding emptiness. The hall is crammed with equipment, most noticeably an abundance of robust, towering racks. In the first half of the building, there is barely a metre between them. Further on, they are used to create a semi-circular seating tribune. At the entrance, sounds emanate from a tractor tyre that spins aimlessly round on chains. In another spot, there is an embellished TV screen, filled with trinkets. And so it goes on, seemingly without end. It transcends immediate comprehension. The wet dream of children who’ve carried home everything little thing that has captured their imagination.

Between those racks, the performers, complemented by Meg Stuart herself, seek contact with the people via gestures and touches. Many participate in this opening rite. Only afterwards do the performers develop their own rituals. For what other word can be used to describe the strange gestures they make, and which invariably hover between tics, secret signs and a group dance? A ‘collective celebration of personal obsessions or fantasy dreams’? Maybe. Many of the subsequent scenes seem to share mutual relationships, but these frequently overlap and are also supplemented by the voices of the performers, who talk about their experiences. It is impossible to follow everything at once. It is overwhelming.

Naked between the viewers

The only certainty is that the performers not only dream, but that their dreams become ever more indulgent. For example, Jorge De Hoyos, running as fast as he can, tries to take-off with a parachute. Mor Demer, who is naked, suddenly darts between the viewers. Sonja Pregrad, Roberto Martinez and Márcio Kerber do things with pigments, coffee and paint. Sigal Zouk and Renan Martins, who dance almost continuously, provide the piece with a baseline. And Mariana Tengner is, to all extents and purposes, the master of ceremonies. Meanwhile, the double bass and electronic sounds of Klaus Janek and Vincent Malstaf reverberate throughout the proceedings.

What this means, if anything at all, is not the point (any longer). Projecting [Space[ is a quest for what might happen when people come together for one reason, and one reason only: the experience itself. Whether you join in or not, that’s your decision. But no one in Dinslaken could resist the enchantment of the giant campfire at the end. This temporary construction, destined only to consume itself, was the perfect symbol for this work: an intense experience that disappears with the visitors who gave it form.

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