„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 (B) 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. Her second performance, No Longer Readymade (1993), toured extensively and launched her artistic career in Europe. Inspired by the artistic climate in Belgium and interested in creating her own structure through which to develop artistic projects, 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.
The company acts as a mobile, open structure that advances, produces and coordinates Stuart’s artistic work worldwide; it also makes cooperation with different artists and institutions possible. Together they have worked on over thirty productions, ranging from solos such as XXX for Arlene and Colleagues (1995), Soft Wear (2000) and the evening-length solo Hunter (2014) to large-scale choreographies such as Visitors Only (2003), Built to Last (2012) and UNTIL OUR HEARTS STOP (2015). Other projects include publications (a.o. Are we here yet?), video works (a.o. the invited, Somewhere in between), installations (a.o. The Only Possible City) and site-specific projects, of which Projecting [Space[ (2017) is the most recent.
As improvisation is an important part of Meg Stuart’s practice, they have also initiated several improvisation projects such as Crash Landing (1996-1999), Auf den Tisch! (2005-2011), City Lights – a continuous gathering (2016), as well as the festival Intimate Strangers (2008, 2011), that shows work from the company’s artistic associates in combination with own work.
Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods has an ongoing collaboration with Kaaitheater in Brussels and HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin. They have been a resident at Schauspielhaus Zürich (2000-2004) and Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin (2005-2010). From 2010 until 2015, the company has been presented at the Münchner Kammerspiele on invitation by its intendant Johan Simons. Both Built to Last (2012) and UNTIL OUR HEARTS STOP (2015) were created in coproduction with the Kammerspiele. Also on the invitation of Johan Simons, 2015-2017 Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods collaborated with Ruhrtriennale. The site-specific project Projecting [Space[ (2017) was created and presented at Ruhrtriennale 2017.
Since 2017, scenographer Jozef Wouters is an independent artist in residence with Damaged Goods. He initiates projects, using his Decoratelier in Molenbeek (Brussels) as a base.