February 24, 2015 - WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels - Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid
February 24, 2015

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid

© Anne Van Aerschot.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

20 March–17 May 2015

Contemporary Art Centre
Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354
1190 Brussels
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11–18h

T +32 (0) 2 340 00 53


What would it mean for choreography to perform as an exhibition? That is the question at the origin of Work/Travail/Arbeid, a newly commissioned project by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Straightforward as it may seem, the implications unsettle both how contemporary dance and the art exhibition are conventionally thought, constructed, and experienced. After all, the apparatuses of the theatre and museum remain so distinct—from their respective spatial arrangements and institutional significations to the expectations and protocols attached to each. Dance performances are traditionally presented for a fixed duration on a stage before a seated, frontally facing audience; an exhibition, on the other hand, presents artworks in a space available for viewing during public opening hours, over a duration of several weeks or months, where visitors enter and exit at will. The re-conceptualization of what a live choreographed piece could be if subjected to the conditions of an exhibition formed the basis for how this legendary Belgian dancer-choreographer developed Work/Travail/Arbeid

In response, De Keersmaeker takes her stage piece Vortex Temporum, choreographed to the eponymous music by composer Gérard Grisey, and reimagines it for the radically different conditions of an art space. Vortex involved seven dancers from De Keersmaeker’s dance company Rosas and six musicians and a conductor from the Ictus ensemble performing live on stage for roughly one hour. Work/Travail/Arbeid reunites those same dancers (in this case, two rotating casts of them) and musicians, and they perform live, over the entire opening hours of the exhibition, for nine weeks. Vortex’s original choreography, made to the time of Grisey’s composition, is in the exhibition space expanded to a nine-hour choreography (nine being an essential, structuring number for De Keersmaeker’s composition of the piece). Each of its nine hours features either a single dancer or dancers, dancers with musicians, or musicians alone, all of which are extracted from  Vortex as it is danced on stage. Every new iteration of the nine-hour cycle is deliberately and minutely either dilated or compressed so that the new choreography is being built up, cycle by cycle, day by day, and week by week over the course of the exhibition. The whole follows a logic that has itself been “choreographed” according to the mathematical logic and strict geometries that undergird the entire choreography.

The result is not simply a dance piece brought into the museum, in other words, not simply with dancers performing in the white box instead of the black box, but a dance piece fundamentally rethought as an exhibition. To that end, there is no arranged “performance time” to interrupt the usual workings of the museum or art space; this is not an event that the public comes to at a specific, announced time. It is on from the moment the public opening hours begin and until they end. There is no stage, no fixed seating, no given beginning, no clear end, and there is not pre-established position from which to see the piece.  And probably—given that its temporal evolution dictates that each cycle gives way to different successive cycles—no possibility of seeing it in its entirety. The result is a project that transforms the very material and conditions that have long been essential to dance, in particular the rigorous structure and choreographic language for which De Keersmaeker is known, into an entirely new exhibition form. It also reveals, in a way that perhaps no other dance piece by the choreographer could, the complex conceptual, technical, and physical labor—in sum, the work—that is the backbone of her entire oeuvre. 

Curated by Elena Filipovic

Work/Travail/Arbeid, initiated by WIELS, is a production of WIELS & Rosas. It is generously supported by BNP Paribas Fortis, BNP Paribas Foundation, Rolex Institute, Villo and the WIELS Patrons Group. The Brussels presentation is a co-production with De Munt/La Monnaie, BOZAR, Kaaitheater, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Ictus, and is opening as part of Performatik 2015.

The exhibition will travel to Centre Pompidou, Paris and Tate Modern, London, where it will be presented in a nine-day version.

Work/Travail/Arbeid is realized with the involvement of the cast of Vortex Temporum, the dancers of Rosas and musicians of Ictus, as well as dramaturge Bojana Cvejić, the choreographer’s assistant Femke Gyselinck, and the artist Ann Veronica Janssens.

Complementary programme:

22 March, 18h
Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Xavier Le Roy in conversation (In collaboration with Performatik)

26 March, 18h & 26 April, 14h
Lecture demonstrations by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

15 April, 18h
Lecture by Douglas Crimp: “Why Dance”

2 May, 19h
“The Music of Time and Gesture”: a conversation between Jean-Luc Plouvier, Nicolas Donin and Bojana Cvejić

8 May (17h, 19h) & 9, 10, 14 May (13h, 15h, 17h)
Presentation of new piece by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker & Rosas: My Breathing is My Dancing (In collaboration with Kunstenfestivaldesarts)

17 May, 18h
Closing conversation between Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Jérôme Bel
(In collaboration with Kunstenfestivaldesarts)

On the occasion of the exhibition, a multi-volume boxed catalogue is being published by WIELS, Rosas, and Mercatorfonds. Conceived in parts, it will accompany the exhibition while it is on and fully document it over its duration. A first set of volumes introduces Work/Travail/Arbeid and traces the preparations for it. Following the exhibition, a second set of volumes documents and reflects on its unfolding. The catalogue includes a re-edition of De Keersmaeker’s original Vortex Temporum program book, photographic documentation by Babette Mangolte and Anne Van Aerschot, drawings by De Keersmaeker, and newly commissioned essays by Douglas Crimp, Bojana Cvejić, Brian Dillon, Elena Filipovic, and Catherine Wood. Edited by Elena Filipovic.

Press contact
Micha Pycke
micha.pycke [​at​] wiels.org / T +32 (0) 2 340 00 51 / M +32 (0) 486 680 070

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker: Work/Travail/Arbeid at WIELS, Brussels
WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels
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