"To have company" means that you are not alone, that you share yourself and your place with others. Damaged Goods is a constantly shifting identity, always redefining itself and searching for contexts. I think if you want to explore new territory you have to allow yourself to go to unfamiliar places. The company reconfigures from project to project, though I usually work with some dancers for more than one show. I like to create an open structure where dancers are independent and have the opportunity to do their own work and that of other artists. I think it feeds them and consequently the work. All these different people passing through change and shape the work’s nature. - Meg Stuart.
In 1991, Klapstuk festival in Leuven (BE) presented Meg Stuart's work for the first time in Europe. The full-length new production Disfigure Study was highly acclaimed in Belgium and beyond. She presented her second piece, No Longer Readymade in 1993. It toured extensively and launched her artistic career. Inspired by the artistic climate in Belgium and interested in building her own structure, Stuart founded Damaged Goods in Brussels in 1994.
The company's name was taken from the first review Stuart received for Disfigure Study in The Village Voice. Burt Supree wrote: "But it's failure that absorbs Stuart, the body's stubborn, fumbling thickness, its sticky desires and cruel inefficacies. And everyone is shown as damaged goods." Meg Stuart found it a fitting name for her choreographic work that doesn't highlight virtuosity but searches to reveal the hidden world of her dancers as they question themselves on stage.
Through Damaged Goods, Stuart has worked on over thirty productions, ranging from solos to large scale group choreographies, video works, site-specific creations and trailblazing improvisation projects. The company acts as a mobile, open structure that advances, produces and coordinates Stuart’s artistic work worldwide, and makes collaborations with different artists and institutions possible.
In 2017, Belgian scenographer and theater maker Jozef Wouters became a part of this mission, as an integral part of Damaged Goods. He initiates projects as an independent artist in residence, using his Decoratelier in Molenbeek (Brussels) as a base. Founded as a space that accommodates the various forms of collaboration and labour that are inherent in the work of Jozef Wouters, Decoratelier developed into an accessible workplace and platform for artists of various disciplines, with room for social experiment.
Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods has an ongoing collaboration with Kaaitheater in Brussels and HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin, and has been a resident at Schauspielhaus Zürich (2000-2004) and Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin (2005-2010). In the period 2023-2027, Meg Stuart and Jozef Wouters are artists in residence in Kunstencentrum VIERNULVIER in Ghent (BE).