Mette Ingvartsen

Photo: Peter Lenaerts


Mette Ingvartsen – Away from stability – a school of seeing for people tired of screens, lessons in posture for a turbulent life.

The Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen initially studied at the Amsterdam School of the Arts, before going on to Brussels to attend Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker’s renowned intellectual and technical forcing house P.A.R.T.S. There, she began creating the pieces of her own that first brought her to wider notice in the summer of 2002: the athletic solo negatives, manual focus, a puzzling, contorted ensemble piece in which young women’s naked backs were topped by masks that depicted gurning, shamelessly gawping old men’s faces, and 50/50, in which dance constituted an expression of physical practice rather than psychological motivations.

After graduating in 2004, she followed up these works with to come, a cleanly analysed orgy of obscene poses without the orgy. The intention was to demystify prefabricated erotic stereotypes, with the goal of returning the viewer’s own imagination once again to its place of origin: the interior. the making of the making of, why we love action and where’s my privacy continued her sparring with the visual interference we face from the key media of our age. Her current works, Evaporated Landscapes and Giant City are spatial, location-specific performances that exhibit estrangement from humanity and sensitivity to the environment in which they are presented and, since she once again allows her dancers to ‘dance’, demonstrate her indifference to her nascent (and erroneous) reputation as a rigidly conceptual choreographer. Furthermore, they document her curiosity about potential ways in which our conception of structured, communicative movement could be expanded.

Katja Werner

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At present, the dancer and choreographer’s whole oeuvre consists of at least eleven pieces. They amount to a school of seeing for people tired of screens, lessons in posture for a turbulent life, both onstage and offstage.

What is it she wants? To understand our time. To find a means of responding to it as equal to equal. In order to do this, she has to find out certain things: How, where, why, towards what and in what do we move? What moves us? How far? How strongly? And what do we know – consciously or unconsciously – of all these matters? Can these things be conveyed, possibly through dancing? Ingvartsen plays the role of a scientist who researches the conditions that determine our lives in laboratory-like experimental settings. It is our (and her) understanding of the body, the subject and perception that are examined under the microscope.

She works with repetition in order to heighten our attention to nuances.
Simultaneously, abstraction, reduction and intensification are used to cast a clear light on what is so thoughtlessly presumed. And to point beyond it. She imitates the rhythm of our increasingly urban life, suggesting that reality is not unmediated, and certainly anything but stable. Nor does it function as analogy. ‘Reality’ leaves its marks in innumerable media before its manifestations ever become flesh, stone, money or missiles. When virtual number games on the stock exchange can trigger a global crisis in the real economy, when fictitious weapons of mass destruction can trigger real wars and when the most desired people are actors, no one is able to escape from the theatrical. At some point, we all buy into its digitalised, coded, emotionally authentic currency. This means we all end up dealing with it more or less creatively, more or less freely.

And freedom has to be practiced. Ingvartsen’s works are collective affective trials carried out with this in mind. She is not the only person who sees attempts to influence and manipulate us everywhere. However, instead of renouncing spectacle – she celebrates it. Now more than ever. Groaning, shooting and leaping acrobatically, inspired by the bombast of action films, distorted, fantastic, futuristic, robotic and ecstatic. The spectacle makes an impact. And we have had so much fun, so often. At the same time, though, the e/motion machine tears itself apart. Through the hairline cracks in our seeing habits, we sense something: un-affectedness. What a liberation!
Katja Werner

Works available for touring

Giant City (2009)
Room size: min 16 m wide x 13 m deep
Stage size: 12 m wide x 9 m deep

Evaporanted landscapes (2009)
minimum size of the venue: 13m by 11m, minimum hight to the grid: 4m

it’s in the air (2008)
Room size: min 12 m wide x 17.2 m deep
Stage size: fixed: 10 m wide x 9.2 m deep
Minimum height: 6.5 m to the grid

Why we love action (2007)
Stage size: min 14m wide x 14m deep no wings
Minimum height: 6m