House without a Maid

Free entrance
18:00 > 23:00 Melati Suryodarmo
15:00 > 17:00 Talk 1 (reservation required)
14:00 > 20:00 Vlatka Horvat
17:00 > 20:00 Olga de Soto
17:00 > 18:00 Fiona Wright
17:00 > 20:00 Olga de Soto
17:00 > 23:00 Vlatka Horvat
15:00 > 17:00 Talk 2 (reservation required)
17:00 > 18:00 Fiona Wright
17:00 > 20:00 Olga de Soto

A house is where the master-servant relationship is defined. It is the material embodiment of attitudes towards “domestic staff”. Nineteenth-century bourgeois homes, such as the residence which houses the Maison des Arts in Schaerbeek, mirror the social structures that shaped the lives of their inhabitants. House without a Maid, the second part of To Serve, gives audience members an opportunity to view such a home. From the kitchen to the cellar and from the dining room to the library, visitors are free to explore the uninhabited house. Its initial inhabitants are long gone, but the house comes back to life thanks to contributions by the artists and the experts that León and Aughterlony have invited in to revive the master-servant relationship. Performances and conferences enter a dialogue with the spaces that continue to symbolize this relationship. In House without a Maid, the ideal manservant and housemaid have long left the premises, but their spirit still haunts us in the symbolism of the deserted space.

By & with
Jorge León, Simone Aughterlony, Fiona Wright (in collaboration with Becky Edmunds), Melati Suryodarmo, Olga de Soto, Vlatka Horvat, Pauline Bodry, Renate Lorenz, Florence Aubenas, Sophie Lakhdar, Elke Gutiérrez, Valérie Piette, Angel Enciso

Isabelle Dumont

Nadia Fistarol

Technical assistance
Florian Bach, Nadia Fistarol, Ursula Degen

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Maison des Arts de Schaerbeek,
Halles de Schaerbeek

Verein für allgemeines Wohl (Zürich), Niels asbl (Brussels)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Alkantara Festival (Lisbon), Dampfzentrale/Biennale (Bern), Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Productiehuis Rotterdam (Rotterdamse Schouwburg), Theaterhaus Gessnerallee (Zürich)

Supported by
Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Foundation, Fachstelle Kultur Kanton (Zürich), Präsidialdepartement der Stadt Zürich, Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Ministère de la Communauté Française – Service du Théâtre

Special thanks to
KVS, Les Brigittines

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

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House without a Maid

House without a Maid

Melati Suryodarmo, Passionate Pilgrim

Passionate Pilgrim is a durational performance in which Melati Suryodarmo was inspired by encounters during her journeys which have confronted her to concern on identity issues, especially those which are related to her origin. She observed and translated the hidden emotion through a study of gestures, and the unspoken language. Passionate Pilgrim is the beginning of another journey.

Artistic statement

« The world that inspires me to move my thoughts is the world inside me. The body becomes like a home which functions as container of memories, living organism. The system inside the psychological body that changes all the time has enriched my idea to develop new structures of attitude and thoughts. I try to perceive my surroundings as the fact of the real presence of now, but considering the path of its history.

I try to understand the language that are not spoken, and opens the door of perceptions. I respect the freedom in our minds to perceive things coming through our individual sensory register system.

Crossing the boundaries of cultural and political encounters has been a challenge that stimulates me discovering new identification. An effort to find identity is yet a dangerous act of losing the ground of origin. For me, the process of making artwork is a life long research that never stops me to put myself inside the metamorphic constellation.

I intend to touch the fluid border between the body and its environment through my art works. I aim to create a concentrated level of intensity without the use of narrative structures. Talking about politics, society or psychology makes no sense to me if the nerves are not able to digest the information. I love it when a performance reaches a level of factual absurdity. »


Melati Suryodarmo was born in 1969 in Surakarta, Indonesia. She lives and works since 1994 in Braunschweig, Germany. Graduate in International Relations and Political Sciences in Bandung, she started her study at the Hochschule für Bildende Künsten Braunschweig with Anzu Furukawa (Butoh and choreography), Mara Mattuschka (time based) and Marina Abramovic (performance art and Raum Konzept). She is graduated in Fine Art, and finished her MFA in 2002 in Performance Art.

Melati Suryodarmo has participated in various international performance festivals and exhibitions including IPFO 2003, the 50th Venice Biennale, Marking the territory, IMMA Dublin, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (during the exhibition of the life of Egon Schiele), Videobrasil Sao Paolo (2005), Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, 52th Venice Biennale dance Festival (2007), KIASMA Helsinki (2007). She has recently presented her performance Alé lino for the Manifesta7, in Bolzano Italy (2008). Since the last two years, Suryodarmo has been presenting her works in Indonesia and South East Asian countries.


Vlatka Horvat, Unhinged

At the centre of this new performance by Vlatka Horvat are a lone performer and a door that has been removed from its frame. With the performer’s face pressed against the door to form a provisional door-woman hybrid – a linguistic pun come to life – this unstable couple occupies and moves around the parlour rooms of the Maison des Arts for a period of six hours. Unhinged, with its titular gesture to madness, merges body and object into a single unit, collapsing the normative of both the body and the domestic. The customary utility of the door vanishes when it leaves its place in the door frame and heads off into new locations while the body’s relationship to space is reconfigured by the flattening of its ‘front’ against the solid surface of the door, resulting in a comical impairment of the performer’s capacities for movement and vision.

Enacting simultaneously the act of ‘wearing a door’ and ‘being a door,’ the object becomes an additional body part, functioning simultaneously as the performer’s partner and as an impediment. Horvat’s temporary coupling of the door and the body, and the act of setting their merger in motion provokes the viewer to re-imagine the physical structure of domestic space itself. In a kind of excessive enactment of function, the movement of mobile door/door-woman creates new imagined walls and spatial divisions, as well as providing a series of ‘unnecessary’ entrances inside rooms, perceptually partitioning the space in places where no tangible walls exist.

Unhinged brings to the fore the role not only of an employed service worker, but also of women in the family context, and more widely, the function of the domestic space itself – as the various elements of the built environment are structured/devised so as to cater to the needs and wishes of its inhabitants. The door stands as a powerful player in this domestic theatre – a guard of solitude and privacy, a barrier from strangers or intruders, an invitation for entrance. By proposing a degree of mobility and autonomy for it, Unhinged brings the door from the role of invisible facilitator and servant of domestic traffic and access to a new place of visibility, play and problematic agency.


Vlatka Horvat (b. 1974 in Čakovec, Croatia) is a New York-based artist working in a range of media. Her recent work in photography, video, collage and installation has explored the precarious and problematic relationship of a protagonist to her context by depicting reconfigured human figures in hybrid or compromised relationship with objects and elements of the built environment. Horvat’s recent solo projects include Or Some Other Time and Once Over at the Kitchen in New York; For Example, a project for the 11th Istanbul Biennial and an 8-hour performance This Here and That There at PACT Zollverein in Essen. Recent group exhibitions include Galerie Xippas and Galerie Anne Barrault (both in Paris), TANAS Space (Berlin), annex14 gallery (Bern), Braverman Gallery (Tel Aviv) and White Columns (New York).


Olga de Soto, Sous clé

Somewhere between a performance and an installation, investing the space of the house like a means of escape… dreamt of and impossible at the same time … a figurative development… a space, emptied somewhere of its occupants… an oblique place that would allow the expression or silencing of private ordeals… to hear the echo of the imprint left by daily developments… and by emotions, adjustments and hidden renunciations… which come together to construct an invisible corset , but how obvious… a woman driven to mute rebellion… faced with domestic work, maternal work, everyday work, all invisible… doomed to “eternal” fresh starts… an act of resistance to cut herself off from the exhaustion of her job… No need then to leave or go very far… just listen to the echo here, in her, and explore the inner quest for this other house, one fantasised about, dreamt off, suspended… from her, for her…


After studying dance and music theory music in her Spanish homeland and then at the CNDC d’Angers, Olga de Soto worked with Michèle Anne de Mey, Pierre Droulers, Félix Ruckert, Boris Charmatz and Jérôme Bel, meanwhile developing her own creations and choreographic research, some of which is in dialogue with the study of contemporary works of music. She began with the solo Patios in 1992, followed by several other pieces in different forms and formats, including I believe that I act…, A destiempo, Sueño, Hontanar, Paumes and anarborescences. For ten or so years, her work has focused on the theme of memory: physical memory, found in Murmures (1997), Eclats mats (2001) and in the succession of accompanied solos INCORPORER (created in 2004-2009) andperceptive memory, the audience’s, which also featured in histoire(s), a showwhich premiered at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in 2004.

Olga de Soto is currently associate artist at the Halles de Schaerbeek.


Fiona Wright, Behind Doors

In collaboration with video maker Becky Edmunds.

Duration: 10 minutes, maximum 5 people. (Continuous for 90 minutes.)

Advance booking recommended.

You take a seat. Your body is arranged around the edges of your own field of vision. There will be a shift of the look or a lowering of the eyes. I am standing nearby, taking care of the space, keeping things going and keeping time. Images play on the surface of a small screen. Brief glimpses out of the corner of an eye. What am I thinking, all day in the house? I am thinking, I am disappearing. Or I am something like your shadow, somehow always there. Alone and in your presence. You watch, I’ll just wait.

A short, live encounter offering each spectator a close-up moment, a slightly different picture - interrupted by the door opening, the audience replaced and another version beginning.

To approach a house as a site invites the possibility for small-scale encounters, carrying the suggestion of - the uncertainty, if not the assured experience - intimacy.

Inner sanctum - the domestic life - the larger body of the house.

Colonisation of other bodies - other continents.

Private lives - unseen and ongoing - behind closed doors.

Inner worlds - enclosed life - our imagining and memories.

A performance made for a small audience of only five people in a room for a short time, with the potential to include the behaviour of social formality and informality. The audience might stand-in for a family group or dinner guests, seated at a table together, each spectator bringing a personal viewpoint into the room.

A short work for the audience and a longer work for the performer - some kind of devotion to the task of providing. The body of the performer in attendance in the room, in a constant state of waiting. Performed actions and repeated gestures as traces of presence - noticed or unnoticed. The solo performance occupying the periphery, not necessarily being the central focus or commanding attention throughout. The look, in fact, sometimes deflected, perhaps becoming as much about the glance as the gaze.


Fiona Wright (b. London 1966) has been making performances since the late 1980s, working over the years also as a lecturer and writer. She was invited Visiting Artist in Performance at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007 and in recent years has worked with Simone Aughterlony as dramaturge and performer. Recent solo work includes the one-woman show, On Lying (supported by Arts Council England and OPENPORT Chicago 2007) which appeared at the National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, March 2010. Previous close-up pieces, sometimes for an audience of one, include salt drawing 2004, and a series of solo performance lectures, "Other versions of an uncertain body". She also works collaboratively, particularly with Caroline Bowditch as the duet girl jonah.


Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, Normal Work

Installation with film and 13 photographs, 2007

The starting point for the film Normal Work was an extraordinary series of self-portraits taken by Hannah Cullwick, a servant in Victorian England, who is sometimes photographed in her role as a maid, but at other times is dressed as a lady, a slave or a middle-class worthy.

Taken in 1869, these photos were archived in Trinity College, Cambridge and have not been seen before in an artistic context. They had been sealed for 50 years after Hannah Cullwick’s death to avoid any scandal.

While working from dawn until late into the night, Hannah Cullwick managed to produce a series of remarkable staged photographs, numerous intimate diaries and countless letters. The photographs reveal her physical strength, emphasising her muscles and her big, red and dirty hands and portray her gender, which was fundamentally linked to the work she did of which she was very proud. The portraits and self-portraits where she is depicted as a maid, in class drag or in ethnic drag reveal something of the sadomasochistic relationship she secretly had with the middle-class Arthur Munby.

Interestingly, it is the very tools of her work that inspired their S&M scenes. The shift in social positions staged in her photographs played a role in her everyday life because she used to travel with Munby dressed as a lady, for example. These photographs can be perceived as a technology allowing her to control her changes in social position or mirror the efforts and thoughts associated with these changes.

Four of these photos have been (re)staged by Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz in Normal Work. Through the work involved in recreating the image in a context of a drag performance and playing with historic and present-day temporalities, the film asks whether the shifts between the social hierarchies of class, gender and “race” that Hannah Cullwick staged – and that she so obviously desired – have become generalised today as a paradoxical requirement in the world of work.


While pursuing their own projects, Berlin-based Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz also endeavour to re-examine archive images through a variety of media – film and video, photography, installations, exhibitions, symposiums and workshops – taking an interest in the discourses on gender and sex articulated in them and the differing levels of “visibility” shown in them. Together they organised Normal Love, precarious sex, precarious work (Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 2007) and took part in an exhibition centred on Magnus Hirschfeld entitled Sex Brennt (Berlin, 2008). In 2009, they staged a number of exhibitions: Bertha von Suttner Revisited in Harmannsburg, Everywhere at the CGAC in Santiago de Compostela, N.O.Body at the Swiss Institute in New York; Salomania atLes Complices in Zurich, and Swiss Awards in Basel.

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Jorge León (°1967) graduated at the Brussels Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle (INSAS) and has been working as a photographer and film director. He was also active a dramatist and stage designer for various projects. As a photographer, he worked for Belgian and foreign artists and companies, among who Olga de Soto, Wim Vandekeybus and Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods. Léon’s photos have been exhibited at various locations across Belgium and abroad and were published in newspapers such as The Times and Libération. At the 1999 Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Léon created his installation Unfinished Stories. More recently he has been active primarily as a filmmaker, with a series of films including De Sable et de Ciment (2003), Vous êtes Ici (2006), Between Two Chairs (2007) and 10min. (2009).

Before moving to Europe, Simone Aughterlony (°1977) graduated at the New Zealand School of Dance in 1995. Since then, she has been working as a dancer and choreographer for various artists and companies. In 2001 she participated in Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods’ Highway 101 project, her first time collaboration with Brussels based artist Jorge Léon. In 2003 Aughterlony created her first own production: the dance solo Public Property. Her work explores experiences and the various means of expression and representation used to communicate these experiences. This inquiry often takes rigorous dimensions in its attempt to capture, understand and define the limits of one’s own thoughts and movements.

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