Other than your role, how is this curatorship different from previous work?
I'm grateful for all my opportunities, but sometimes I ask myself if it’s the story I want to tell. At times, I feel this empty void in projects that aren’t mine because I would rather show what is interesting and worth paying attention to. You can share more this way while also bringing more of yourself into the work. What we chose for this collaboration, especially after the pandemic, felt right. I appreciate artists who don't choose the easy path. I wanted to celebrate work that is difficult to sit with, still searching for the right audience. Everyone performing has their uniqueness, and it could be interesting for them to gain visions of their work from new audiences. I like to allow myself space for authenticity when creating, which is something I want more of from my surroundings. So the difference is that now I am bringing together individuals outside of myself to take centre stage and share whatever they feel compelled to.
I'm bringing together individuals outside of myself to take centre stage and share whatever they feel compelled to
How did you decide who to bring together for this curation? What do you hope the audience takes away from this experience?
My first instinct was to go to people I knew that didn't know each other. During the lockdowns, due to social bubbles, I noticed that we were only seeing the people we knew, going to the shows we knew, listening to the music we knew, and participating in the things we already knew we liked. I missed connecting with artists from different backgrounds, identities and disciplines. Two years have passed, and there aren't as many meetings. Hardly any conversations, the friction to me felt lost. Maybe it was for safety, but creatively, I found it destructive. I thought to show works I appreciate that have no connection to each other for the sake of the audience’s exposure. I enjoy an opera singer as much as a dancer or spoken word poet and wanted to show that these things don't have to exclude each other or each other's audiences. There is no theme, but I think it gives people the chance to tie their own thread. Seeing artists perform isn't just about appreciating the work but learning from it.
You have the liberty to make the audience see what you want them to. You say there is no connection, but the link is you.
Yes, exactly. I also wanted to draw a line with activism. For example, contemporary dance can go hand in hand with queer art without being categorized as such because they have more to offer than their queerness. Maybe I recognize that from myself and have no control over being misrepresented. If I am the connection between all these artists, it's because I know how difficult finding one’s audience is. We have to build a stage for it first. I’m making everyone sit together and sit through it. Maybe they have a hard time or a great time, what matters is that they make their own link, broaden their horizons, but firstly see performers as people. This is a common problem amongst artists, and I want to break these constraints.
Are all of the performers POC?
Again the labels. I consciously chose a lot of Belgian names that aren't 'Belgian' names; therefore, they are never seen as Belgian artists even though they are. My choices on diversity were also built on that issue.
One of the performers says they are an autodidact. This may be true, but it comes more from a place of fear of calling themselves a dancer/choreographer. I think they have the right to own it because it is their identity. Just because they didn't study it doesn’t mean they don't get to be called it. So I can't answer if they are POC or not, only that they are great performers that deserve to be seen.
I can’t answer if they are POC or not, only that they are great performers that deserve to be seen
I see these three nights as freedom. You provide the performers with their rightful stage and build a community that has been waiting to be made. Maybe a conversation comes out of it. I hope many do. The thing is, I'm so proud of all the names participating. Some are into fashion, and some are not. But I want those worlds to open up to each other because they are not so far apart. The performers and their place on these steps share a commonality of pain and need to be heard. I'm not familiar with how a fashion audience is, but I'm excited to see their reaction.
Some are into fashion, and some are not. But I want those worlds to open up to each other because they are not so far apart