19, 20, 21, 24/05 – 20:30
22/05 – 18:00

Miet Warlop is a young Belgian artist whose shows and installations are attracting increasing interest on the international scene. After the surrealist Grote Hoop/Berg, she blew us away with Springville, a visual slapstick performance in which humans and objects lose their usual appearance and turn into strange hybrids: women’s legs become table legs and a cardboard house slowly implodes. Warlop recently moved to Berlin to develop her work alone in the calm of her studio there. For Trailer Park, which anticipates an even bigger production to be created for Kunstenfestivaldesarts 012, she abandons the device of theatrical representation to concentrate on the plastic dimension of her work. She extracts a series of images from her existing works, creates new ones and brings them all together in a collection of tableaux vivants and small acts. By immersing onlookers in her world, she opens up new and unconventional ways of looking at things. Bold, playful and surprising!

Concept & design
Miet Warlop

Assisted by
Sofie Durnez

In conversation with
Namik Mackic

Performed by
Wietse Tanghe, Namik Mackic, Sofie Durnez, Miet Warlop, Katharina Dreyer, An Breugelmans

Piet Depoortere, Karel Vanhoorn

Thanks to
Espace Formation PME Brussels, Leen Denoulet, Tinneke Dedecker, Pieter Lommeville, Nida Serra, Lies Vanborm, Damien Arrii, Susi Craye

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, BRONKS

We Love Productions (Ghent)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kunstencentrum Vooruit (Ghent), CAMPO (Ghent), Göteborgs Dans & Teater Festival

Supported by
Provincie West-Vlaanderen, De Werf (Brugge)

Project coproduced by
NXTSTP, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

Back to top

Interview with Miet Warlop

Why did you choose the title ACT/COLLECTION, Trailer Park and the form of small acts and ‘tableaux vivants’ after Springville, a performance that was developed as a theatrical production?
I have realised that I work by drawing out images from a larger imaginary world, rather than trying specifically to address a theme. The material that is developed like this does carry a theme within, but deciding in advice what that theme is, would only put restraints on my inspiration and limit the possibilities of the images I am developing. For now, I use an overarching title – ACT/COLLECTION – under which I can bring together different ideas and aesthetics. I actually never envisaged to create a unified theatrical story when I was working on my previous large production, Springville; I had started by making a few sculptures/characters which were in the end brought together in something that resembles a theatrical scenario. This time I wish to put these singular images side by side. The challenge is to work out the specific timing and energies that can allow each image to communicate with the viewer individually and reveal itself in relation to the other images. It is in this composition of individual ‘voices’, or lines, that we can add the poetic, the erotic and the humorous.

You present several try-outs now. A work in progress which will lead up to a bigger show for next year… What do you want to try out?
I want to see how different stuff can co-exist in the same space, how we can use a decentered mise-en-scene/set-up to make the audience move through space, and how to make sure that the tension of the spectacle is kept going, even if there is not a story to rely on. I try not to think about the premiere next year too much. I try to unpack/unleash an arsenal of images and observe where they want to go…. Because they do have a will of their own, and I just have to push them in different directions, respect them and keep them, or throw them away. I have a speedy fantasy that sometimes goes faster than I can think. That is why I first have to assemble and collect, and later select.

You use elements of other, previous works? In order to show and unravel their full potential?
I use elements from my earlier work because they are inexhaustible, in the sense that they are still alive and they still have a place within the development of my work at large.

Slapstick, humour, enlarging existing elements… these aspects are always there, what fascinates you about them? Timing, perhaps?
I just think it is a good way of relaying a message to the audience, if the first layer is something light and funny… It is a way to address a topic on my part, and at the same time, a way of taking care of the communication/exchange during and after the show. I like it when people think without being pressured into something or weighed down by that thinking. The problem of not dealing or not wanting to face certain issues is often because of the way these issues are presented to you. Like we always say: it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it. I trust the fact that there is drama enough in everybody’s life, so I don’t have to reiterate it a thousand times on stage or in a picture. I believe I can rather add something that relieves the heaviness without taking away the actual content, which is serious and disturbing at heart. There are different kinds of ‘entertainment value’, different ways of drawing the viewer in. As long as you are comfortable as a viewer, you allow an opening for things to come in. For a creator it is important to be humble about what is needed to make this happen. I look for visual tools that can take me further than the appearance of things; I look for the humour in sadness, the magic in the static and the adventure in fear.

Is it the difference in timing between theatre and visual art that is crucial for your work?
To pursue the kind of work I do, one does not continually need to work within the format of theatrical spectacle, with 2 hour-long pieces and 20 performers on stage. I believe my work is primarily sculptural and visual, and those are the qualities that I want to emphasise in order to make it stand on its own. But I also believe it is a challenge for the programmers, for me and for the audience that is familiar with my previous work, to take this step together. To let go of expectations and just look anew. I find myself going back to my beginnings as a visual artist, now employing the performance format in order to try and make an entrance for people to step into my world.

You want to get away of what you call ‘the machinery of theatre production’ and you want to replace it by a more fragile structure where you are in charge. Why? Do certain facilities restrict your way of creating?
I think a huge space and being surrounded by a lot of people is not always the best way for me to develop work. In order to be (mentally) in control of the development, I need intimacy, quietness and continuity, and for me it is easier to establish this in a studio situation than in a larger, busy working environment. Creating and working on a residency basis, moving around the world, to be for one month in one place and the next in another, does not really work for me. It is important to have my stuff around, and to be in a place where I feel good and where I can allow myself the time it takes for the work to develop organically.

Why did you move to Berlin?
Of course I like to be in new settings and contexts. It also guarantees a change that I force upon myself. I’m not a person who stays, not because I want to be or not, but because it’s just the way things push me. If you take away something or someone, there has to be an effect that keeps you moving… so there you have the move in itself. Basically, I’m just as restless in life as I am in my atelier, moving around, from sitting to standing to standing on my head to dancing to crying and then to bursting out laughing, but I’m not hysterical, I’m just excited, this is how I am. You can work continually, non-stop, day and night as you live in your own workspace in Berlin? Does it affect your way of working? Now that I’m living in my atelier, I’m confronted with my set ups at different moments, day and night, and this continuous relation to the objects that I make, allows me both the immediacy and freedom to push the work in new directions.

Interview by Karlien Vanhoonacker (April 2011)

Back to top

Miet Warlop studied Three-Dimensional Design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent (2003). Her graduation project, HuilendHert/Aangeschoten Wild, won the residency award for young talent at Theater Aan Zee (2004), resulting in Sportband/AfgetrainedKlanken (2005). This was followed by many performances, actions, interventions and scenographies, sometimes commissioned by fellow artists. Grote Hoop/Berg (2006-2008) collects a number of visual performances under the heading Proposities. She then created Springville (2008), a 50-minute-long movement of chaos, expectation and surprise, that was selected for the Theaterfestival 2010 in Antwerp. Miet Warlop currently resides in Berlin, where she is at work on a new series of dynamic actions while focusing on her visual work.

Back to top