© Nada Gambier 2019

Even though research and creation go hand in hand in Nada's practice she also conducts research projects that exist outside of any production process. 

CYCLES 1-4 
research project 2009-10
A laboratory is a place where experiments are carried out.

An experiment is a process whose outcome isn't known beforehand.

 

At the end of 2009 and throughout 2010 Nada conducted a series of 4 research cycles, each focusing on important elements from her work. Conducting these cycles was a way for Nada to get beyond questions familiar to her in order to reach a point where new ones could appear. 
 

CYCLE 1/ developing strategies for working with movement
 

The first research cycle came out of a desire to reconnect to the physical body and develop methods for creating physical material. The goal was to examine whether abstract movement could supply fuel for the narrative dimensions in Nada's work.
 

Apart from the studio work Nada also conducted interviews with choreographers working in Belgium about their working methods and approaches to creating and organizing physical material.
 

This work eventually led Nada to the creation Fiction in action.
 

CYCLE 2 / presence and performative behaviour

A good actor can communicate more than a whole war in your living room just by moving an eyebrow

Aki Kaurismäki, Katso magazine nr.6, 1996
 

Presence is a recurrent theme in Nada’s work. At times it has been the main focus, as in Confessions- the Autopsy of a Performanceat other times a decisive element in how a performance is put together, as in Once upon a time in Petaouchnok. For Nada the act of performance is like a metamorphosis through different states. Being aware of how to use one’s presence in order to serve the material presented in a specific performance is the golden tool for any person appearing on stage. A scene might demand for example that the performer is detached from what he is doing in order for the material to become more readable. Another scene might get stronger from the fact that the performer engages in a direct relationship with the spectators. There are many more examples, but the point is that by being able to play with presence one can drastically change the way an audience perceives and receives material.
In this cycle Nada explored how presence can be used as a tool to manipulate the reading of material but also how a focus on presence can generate material. She divided her attention between ‘performative behaviour’ (how one behaves on stage) and presence (which is more related to the person and something one can’t really separate from that person). A theoretical distinction but at times a useful one to make.

 

For this research Nada was briefly accompanied by Michael Janart, a performer from her piece Once upon a time in Petaouchnok.
 

CYCLE 3 / exploring the use of food and props in live performance
 

Nada began this cycle by focusing on experiments with props that could change her in action and transform her body but also with objects that could change the way she and her actions were perceived. Someone dancing with a hammer does not change the person but it changes the way he is perceived and the meaning of what he is doing.
 

Objects are often symbolically very charged. There is a thin line when things begin to appear in a new light, when it becomes possible to play with potential meanings other than the inherent ones. The possibilities are endless in this work. We are surrounded by objects and every object gives birth to a different question. Objects have great potential in questioning and creating sense and non-sense.
 

Throughout this research Nada worked only with pre-existing objects.
 

For practical reasons the food explorations were kept to a minimum at the end. Apart from one major experiment in an empty apartment during a residency with the Institute for Provocation in Beijing, China, most of the food research happened on a theoretical level. This part of the research was the only one which Nada fully conducted accompanied by two other people (performers Cristian Duarte and Lena Meierkord). Together they discussed in which ways food can be seen as something physical and what its potential is as an equal element alongside movement, lights, text etc. in a live performance.
They investigated food as physical texture, exploring its potential as matter. They combined working methods developed during the first research cycle together with explorations linked to food. One crucial difference between working with objects and working with food is that food can be re-worked in ways that physical, concrete objects cannot. In other words, food can be transformed and modified in a totally different way than a rigid object. On the other hand, objects can easily be disregarded once not needed anymore whereas food leaves traces. In some sense food is closer related to movement in that it becomes abstract in ways that existing (and functional) objects never, or very rarely, do. 

 

CYCLE 4/ composition and dramaturgy
 

In this cycle Nada explored the advantages and limitations of using images (scenes) in the creation of a performance. For this she used material created during the previous cycles in order to focus on composition rather than the creation of material.
 

Videos from the research

Dinner at the compound

The Lab experiment

Sitting duet experiment

Research Cycle 1: movement explorations

Research cycles 1-4 were supported by the Flemish Ministry of Culture (research grant in 2009 and 2010), WorkSpaceBrussels (BE), L’L- lieu de recherche et d’accompagnement pour la jeune création-Brussels (BE), Buda Arts Center in Kortrijk (BE),Vooruit in Gent (BE), the Institute for Provocation in Beijing (China) and Wp Zimmer in Antwerp (BE).

UNTAMED THINGLINESS 
research project 2013

In the first six months of 2013 Nada dived into a research on the untamed nature of movement, language and objects. 

Through a series of explorations Nada juggled with the meanings of things and turned them upside down in order to explore what happens when the things we know and can name aquire a new identity. How can we expand the meanings we are used to? How can an object from every-day life become something unexpected? How does language form our perception of the things around us? Is meaning flexible and shared? Can we, through imagination and action give new meanings to things and are they then still shared or are they (simply) personal interpretations? What is the nature of reason when we destabilize the logics we are used to? 

The first part of the research was conducted by Nada alone with the exception of a public workshop of two days at the Kutomo gallery in Turku, Finland. In the second half of the research Nada was joined by Sara Manente, Marcos Simoes and Salka Ardal Rosengren. The research eventually led to the creations Untamed Thingliness and We are no longer here

The research was supported by the Flemish Ministry of Culture (structural subsidies 2013-14)/ Koneen Säätiö, Saari artists residencies (Mietoinen, FI)/ New Performance Turku festival (FI)/ Takt Dommelhof (BE) and Buda Arts Center, Kortrijk (BE)

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