Meeting with the 2018 Idiom curators: Grace Ellen Barkey, Jan Lauwers, Maarten Seghers
What does art have to do with faith? The meeting with the curators of the Leap of Faith Idiom is an opportunity to ask them about their programme concept and the projects they have chosen, as well as their ‘functioning in art’. What does a leap of faith mean to them in practice? How does it affect the work of Needcompany? What does it stand for in an artistic, social and political sense?
15.06, 17:00 A TOWERING FAITH
16.06, 15:00 REVEILLE FOR NATIONS – A MEETING WITH ADAM MICHNIK
16.06, 17:00 TESTING A DIALOGUE
17.06, 17:00 NEEDING FAITH
18.06, 17:00 NOT ASKING FOR DEATH: A MEETING WITH ANNA CZERWIŃSKA
19.06, 17:00 TO ASK ANYWAY. MEETING WITH KATARZYNA SURMIAK-DOMAŃSKA
20.06,17:00 TALES OF THE SAINTS: A MEETING WITH ZBIGNIEW MIKOŁEJKO
21.06, 17:00 TO DECIPHER GOD’S DESIGN. SCIENCE AND RELIGION
22.06, 17:30 TO SAY IT LOUDLY: A MEETING WITH STEFAN HERTMANS
23.06, 15:00 LEAP OF FAITH: Grace Ellen Barkey, Jan Lauwers, Maarten Seghers
23.06, 17:00 RELIGION AND MODERNITY: Ludwik Dorn, Andrzej Leder, Karolina Wigura
24.06, 16:00 CREATIVITY TALKS: WHAT KIND OF FESTIVALS DO WE NEED IN THESE TURBULENT TIMES? Rose Fenton, Hugo De Greef, Nele Hertling, Marta Keil, Grzegorz Reske, Michał Merczyński
Needcompany is an artists' company set up by the artists Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey in 1986. Maarten Seghers has been a member of Needcompany since 2001. Lauwers, Barkey and Seghers form the core of the company, and it embraces all their artistic work: theatre, dance, performance, visual art, writing, etc. Their creations are shown at the most prominent venues at home and abroad.
Since the very beginning, Needcompany has presented itself as an international, multilingual, innovative and multidisciplinary company. This diversity is reflected best in the ensemble itself, in which an average of seven different nationalities are represented. Over the years, Needcompany has put an increasing emphasis on this ensemble, and several artistic alliances have flourished: Lemm&Barkey (Grace Ellen Barkey and Lot Lemm) and Ohno Cooperation (Maarten Seghers and Jan Lauwers).
Needcompany revolves around the individual artist. Everything is founded on the artistic project, on authenticity, necessity and meaning. The medium itself is continually questioned, and there is constant examination of the quality of the content to be conveyed, in relation to the form it takes. Needcompany believes in quality, cooperation and innovation. Needcompany is a leading voice in the social debate on the urgency and beauty of art at both a domestic and an international level.
In 2017, Needcompany moved their headquarters from central Brussels to a former tobacco factory in the immigrant district of Molenbeek. The opening of MILL is another step on Needcompany's path, enabling wider cooperation with other artists, in addition to involving local residents in the life of Needcompany. MILL hosts film screenings, dinners and open meetings for everyone.
During Malta Festival Poznań in 2010, Needcompany presented the trilogy Sad Face/Happy Face, then in 2013 Marketplace 76 and MUSH-ROOM. Also in 2013, ha!art and the Malta Foundation published the Polish version of the essay collection No Beauty for Me There Where Human Life Is Rare: On Jan Lauwers' Theatre Work with Needcompany, edited by Christel Stalpaert, Frederik Le Roy and Sigrid Bousset.
GRACE ELLEN BARKEY, born in Surabaya, Indonesia, was nominated for the Flemish Community Culture Prizes (2005). Since 1992, she has been steadily and successfully building an international career with her own stage creations, whose nature lies where theatre, dance, live art and visual art meet. Musical dramaturgy is central to her work, which includes works by Gustav Mahler as well as Sonic Youth. In 2013, the iconic avant-garde American performance-art collective the Residents wrote music for her creation MUSH-ROOM.
In 2004, Grace Ellen Barkey and Lot Lemm set up Lemm&Barkey to give shape to their close artistic cooperation: they work on the concept, set and costumes for Barkey's creations, and create art installations, which have been exhibited at museums including BOZAR (Brussels), Benaki Museum (Athens), Musée des Arts décoratifs (Paris), CC Strombeek, Museum Dr. Guislain (Ghent), Triënnale Hasselt / Superbodies.
JAN LAUWERS (Antwerp, born 1957) is an artist who works in just about every medium. Over the past 30 years, he has become best known for his pioneering work for the stage with Needcompany, which he cofounded in Brussels in 1986. In the course of this period, he has also built up a substantial body of art work, which has been shown at BOZAR (Brussels) and McaM (Shanghai), among other places. From 2009 until 2014, Needcompany was artist-in-residence at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Jan Lauwers was awarded the 'Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria' in 2012. In 2014, he was awarded with the 'Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award' at the Venice Biennale. He is the first Belgian to receive this prize in the theatre category.
Lauwers studied painting at the Academy of Art in Ghent. At the end of 1979, he gathered around him a number of people to form the Epigonenensemble. In 1981, this group was transformed into the Epigonentheater zlv collective, which took the theatre world by surprise with its six stage productions. In this way, Lauwers took his place in the movement for radical change in Flemish and European theatre in the early 1980s - which would come to be called the Flemish New Wave - and also made his international breakthrough. Epigonentheater zlv presented direct, concrete, highly visual theatre that used music and language as structuring elements.
Jan Lauwers needs company. He founded Needcompany along with Grace Ellen Barkey in 1986. Together they are responsible for Needcompany's larger-scale productions. The group of performers Lauwers and Barkey have put together over the years is quite unique in its versatility. Since Needcompany was founded, both its work and its performers have been markedly international. And since that time, every production has been performed in several languages. Its first productions were still highly visual, but in subsequent productions the storyline and the main theme gained in importance. His work has been labelled as post-dramatic, and for the last few years he has been redefining this term. Among its most important characteristics are transparent, 'thinking' acting, and the paradox between 'acting' and 'performing'.
MAARTEN SEGHERS makes objects, installations, performances and music. He's a member of Needcompany since 2001. In addition to his unmistakable presence as a performer in the work of Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey, his compositions make a substantial contribution to their productions.
In 2006, Maarten Seghers set up Ohno Cooperation in association with the artist Jan Lauwers and the musician Elke Janssens. Together, they create performances, video works, installations and music. Ohno Cooperation also invites other artists and musicians to join, and presents these joint ventures in series of international exhibitions and concerts.
Maarten Seghers also creates solo projects. In What Do You Mean What Do You Mean and Other Pleasantries (2014), he smartly and inimitably exposes art practices with apparent absurdity and with beauty and hilarity ploughed through the inevitability of our woes. This feast of feelings contains a human life full of love and tragedy. For this production, he was nominated for the 2015 Prix Jardin d'Europe for choreographers in Vienna. In the performance O or The Challenge Of This Particular Show Was To Have Words Ending In O (2016), Seghers confronts himself with the artists, musicians and dancers Fritz Welch, Simon Lenski, Nicolas Field and Mohamed Toukabri, for whom he wrote an invocatory song about the noisiness of comforting.