Radiant Collectivity

Related event

Dancer and performer Audrey Merilus is the guest curator for Radiant Nights #10: Collective Memories. The multi-disciplinary program on the 8th and 9th of December at De Singel is about generating memories together and reflecting on intimacy and togetherness. Audrey told us about creating the program with the artists and what we can expect from this diverse event, which includes visual arts, performance and sound, as well as a temporary library.

Hi Audrey, can you introduce yourself? 

I’m Audrey Merilus, I live in Brussels. I have been involved in the dance and performing arts scene in Belgium and abroad for the past 4 years. I started my dance and academic education in France and then pursued my studies in Belgium in Parts. Lately, I have been seeking other ways to engage within the field. I feel that curation has the potential to articulate and support what surrounds works of art. 

Do you see dance as a form of resistance?

This is an ongoing reflection. At the moment I wonder if my medium can be a vehicle of resistance. I am aware that bodies, through dance, can hold a certain power of communication. However, I tend to rely more on settings, communities and dialogues created around works of dance. Maybe that is more where the question of resistance and body politics stand for me, in creating environments that are conducive and can be frameworks to provide systems in sync with both the body of work and the artists’ personal needs and realities. In times of crisis, I can hardly think of dance as the first answer, but I do recognise its capacity to communicate and I see that something can emerge from it. 

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How is your experience with curation?

It’s been an interesting journey. It counterbalances my experience as a performer, where I’m more exposed. It also gives me an insight into how an institution like De Singel functions. To me, curation felt mostly like making bridges and interconnecting people and thoughts. Eventually, we are pooling resources and doing it together, it’s very nourishing. 

Curation felt mostly like making bridges

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Did you choose the theme of Collective Memories? 

Yes, indeed. I hope that the result of the curation will be something that we will remember. At least for me, it will be something to keep and celebrate. When the artists came to mind, there was intuitively a connection that I could make between their respective practices. I was also very inclined to create something that would generate a certain interaction with the audience. This all coming together felt like something that we could take a lot from and crystallise as a collective memory.

So you’re creating a shared experience? 

The genesis of this whole project was the importance for me to craft a program that is meaningful to me, but also to the group of people contributing. Curating was a pretext to meet inspiring people that I knew of or had heard of. So the event is also a way to gather an archive of these encounters. 

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Could you tell us about the artists who you have invited? 

So there are visual artists: Benjamin Mengistu who articulates his research around post/decolonial practices in the field of textiles and Sophie Douala, a graphic designer working on visual identities, who is now transposing her practice into ceramics. Then you have Elie Autin who is a performer but also involved in visual arts. We have four performances, one by Hendrickx Ntela & Pierre Dexter Belleka, another by Eli-Mathieu Bustos, a duo with Lily Brieu Nguyen & Qingqing Teng around South/East Asian cooking techniques and then Elie Autin with her solo performance. There is also the Brussels-based collective Bicoli, which is running the library. They are collecting and making a selection of books and fanzines, literary references that can feed the event. The library will stay until Christmas.

How will you close the night? 

Listen in the Dark is a session where we will use a large space to lie down and collectively listen to an album played in the dark. It’s winter, I’m not in the mood for a party. This was my way of wrapping it up somehow in a wintry vibe. 

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Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to seeing? 

The thing that I’m most excited about is for it to happen. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the audience reacts and navigates its way through the program.

Bodies, through dance, can hold a certain power of communication

How do you see the audience’s role in the event? 

I imagine the audience as quite active, the performances invite that. For example, Eli’s performance offers a discursive moment of conversation at the end. Lily and Qingqing will have a sharing moment around food. Sophie Douala’s visuals also entail some interaction. Throughout the program, I’d say that the audience is encouraged to be active. They don’t have to, but if they want to, there’s definitely a space for it. 

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