in collaboration with Janneke Raaphorst 2016–2018

‘It appears more and more to me that all forms of corporeal violence (racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, etc.) can be said to be built upon a complete knowledge of what a body is. In other words, essentializing a race or a gender, whether to value it or denigrating it—it is ultimately the same thing— would constitute in saying “I know what a body is.” ’
Léopold Lambert,
ARAKAWA/GINS /// Towards an Architecture that Does Not Know What a Body Is, the Funambulist

Elastic Habitat explores the body as an imaginary, invisible and speculative organism and environment. It is an invitation to destabilize and stretch the usual habitat of one’s physical and virtual identity.

The public is invited into an immersive installation, a sort of playground, where they can explore and animate textile sculptures. The sculptures are based on descriptions of the multi-layered metaphysical perceptions of one’s body, emerging out of prior one-to-one sessions. In these individual explorations participants are guided into an ‘auto-contemplation’ which results in a reconfiguration of the habitual perception of one’s presence. The descriptions of these perceptions are then formed into textile sculptures, or better textile bodies, each the material result of how a body was experienced.

‘Yet still there was no agreement as far as the general direction of autoevolution went: should they make bodies in which life could be lived with the maximum pleasure, or bodies to facilitate the individual’s full involvement in the social milieu, should they strive for functionalism, or for aesthetic effect, enlarge
the mind, or the muscles?’

Stanislav Lem, The Star Diaries, The Twenty-first Voyage

The textile bodies are explored by the public entering the playground in small groups, through touching, wearing and thereby activating them. By wearing these textile bodies, one is inspired or challenged to explore one’s habitual perceptions. It is a metaphorical invitation to get ‘under the skin’ and elude the distinction between self and other, inside and outside. Like a mise-en-abyme, these ‘relational objects’ open a perpetual cycle of translation between self and other, inside and outside, looping from feeling to movement, to language, to form and material, and back to sensation. The invitation to play with and through these textile bodies offers a space of childlike pleasure and intuitive exploration within oneself, to think and perceive oneself through the senses.

Elastic Habitat is a space where the usual experience of a body and the relation to her environment is destabilized and re-formatted. Through this destabilization one is invited to take agency.

During the opening hours there will be different moments: the animation of the sculptures by dancers, these moments are open for a bigger public to witness, and then the durational opening hours, where the public can, through appointments, join the performers and experience the textile bodies.

‘If, as Serge Daney writes, “all form is a face looking at us”, what does a form become when it is plunged into the dimension of dialogue? What is a form that is essentially relational? ... As forms are looking at us, how are we to look at them?’
Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

READ MORE — A playground for the encounter of one's body as an-other

Elastic Habitat premiered in November 2017 in Stuk, Leuven, Playground festival.

Tour 2018
February, Buda, Kortrijk, end of winter festival
March, Kaai Theater, Brussels, WOWmen festival
March, Brakkegrond, Amsterdam, Something Raw festival
May, Eau&Gaz, Eppan, italy

concept Helena Dietrich in collaboration with Janneke Raaphorst | hosts/performers Julien Bruneau, Esta Matkovic, Irina Lavrinovic, Janneke Raaphorst, Helena Dietrich | research and one-to-one sessions with guests Helena Dietrich with David Liver, Isabel Burr-Raty, Julien Bruneau, Katharina Smets, Lili M. Rampre, Lynn Suemitsu, Miriam Rohde, Veridiana Zurita | textile bodies Janneke Raaphorst with Carly Rose Bedford, Dieneke Hol, Marija Sujica, Nevin Uzun, ruralurban | set creation Leila Boukhalfa | sound design Lynn Suemitsu | voices Julien Bruneau, Justine Maxelon, Irina Lavrinovic, Thomas Proksch, Varinia Canto Vila, Freek Willems | sound technics Kenny Martens | light design Michaël Janssens | printed matter, text and design Helena Dietrich | redaction Elke van Campenhout | Proof reading Patrick Lennon | dramaturgical advice Heike Langsdorf, Marialena Marouda, Julien Bruneau | scenographic and artistic advice Miriam Rohde, Veridiana Zurita | co-production Buda, Eau&Gaz, Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek, nadine vzw, WP Zimmer | with the support of Kaaitheater, Campo | supported by the Flemish Government and the Flemish Community Commission