Pieter started his dance training when he was 12 years old at the Kunsthumaniora in Brussels after which he went on to study at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp / AP Hogeschool from which he graduated in 2018. In 2022, he started the evening course in photographic art at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp.
Pieter is working for Ultima Vez / Wim Vandekeybus, touring through Europe with the performances TRACES, Hands do not touch your precious Me and Scattered Memories. Meanwhile he works as a freelance dancer for Aïda Gabriëls / OESTER and is part of a research group led by costume designer Chris Snik.
Currently he is working towards a new multidisciplinary installation performance My August feels like December which will premiere in November 2023.
He has been invited as guest teacher in multiple dance schools and companies; for a.o. the Kunsthumaniora Brussel, de! Kunsthumaniora in Antwerp, the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp & the Royal Ballet of Flanders.
© Jonathan De Maeyer
MY AUGUST FEELS LIKE DECEMBER
PERFORMANCE + INSTALLATION
© Pieter Desmet
My August feels like December will be a multidisciplinary performance and installation in which individual mourning experiences are given a communal character by building a space where grief can be shared acceptably with others. Starting from memory, the artistic team embodies and materialises individual grief and alienation from the world after which they transform themselves both physically and emotionally. Exploring how their own bodies react to loss, but also how a death can create space for growth and development as an individual.
For this project Pieter starts from the moving body, but relates it to several other disciplines. The central medium of contemporary dance resonates further in how digital video art, sound design, scenography, costume and lighting design and the invitation for an active presence of the visitor interact. All of these aspects together play an equal role in the ultimate universal meaning of the work.
The need to realise My August feels like December comes from Pieter's personal experience of losing both his parents, and how this shapes him as a human being within a fast-paced society that leaves little room for introspection and expression regarding loss. Mourning and grief are feelings that everyone sooner or later has to deal with in their own way. This work aims to connect these individual experiences of grief on the basis of what they have in common, and then offer them a reimagined artistic framework with a communal and purifying character.
To this end, a space of reflection is designed, within which a new and contemporary ritual of mourning takes place. This ritual is a collection of artistic interventions; rethought, conceived and embodied by the artistic team. My August feels like December will be an intimate experience, in which the performers and the visitors gradually merge together through the ritual. So-called veils of grief are shed by making a place where new ritualistic experiences are allowed to exist.
Grief is too often surrounded by a hidden, almost voyeuristic veil and My August feels like December wants to make an attempt to draw it out of that shadow. The visitors and the performers share the same space; after all, there is no escaping (your) grief and mourning. My August feels like December initially evokes an obligation to embrace grief, but this ultimately turns out to be a way to emotionally charge the space, after which the space literally changes. The shared space thus becomes a visual reflection of the changes one goes through in the process of coping.
My August feels like December creates a space of reflection where the metamorphosis of the individual makes room for collective grief and transformation. Where it becomes acceptable to share grief. Where individual mourning takes on a communal character. Where the visitor can be comforted by the shared experience of a stranger.
The project is a collaboration between different artists, each with their own medium-specific vision. Although the performance is directed by Pieter each artist has autonomy over their own medium. They come together and listen to each other and work together to eventually grow into one single direction, a symbiosis of shared experiences oscillating between the performative and the museum-like.
My August feels like December is an intimate and emotionally charged experience shared between the visitors and the performers, together they become one commune where comfort and hope prevail.
directed by Pieter Desmet
created with and performed by Martha Gardner + Meron Verbelen + Pieter Desmet
digital video artist, James Hall
sound design, David Poltrock
scenography and costume design, Chris Snik
dramaturgical advice by Katleen Van Langendonck
movement assistant, Steffi Mennen
visual advice, Jonathan De Maeyer
production manager, Pauline Van Nuffel
was made possible by Grensverleggers, an arrangement to support cultural collaborations between parties in Flanders, the Province of North Brabant, the Province of Limburg and the Province of Zeeland
with financial support by DansBrabant + VONK_studios + De Veerman
with support by C-TAKT + Ultima Vez + Zuidpool + WALPURGIS|deFENIKS
the installation performance will have its premiere on November 3rd, 2023, at De Spil in Roeselare.
SCIENCE FICTION DANCE FILM
Togetherness is a science-fiction dance film that looks into longing for togetherness, made with and for The Backyard Collective.
Covid-19 changed our way of togetherness into a more digital, online always connected manner. The paradox of always being together through different digital platforms, but never physically present in the same space. The film aims to mirror this through abstract and poetic images.
The film can be seen as a living photographic work, in which Pieter conveys his vision through the images and the dance and not the chronology or the text. In a way it is an anthology work that is connected thematically, more so than narratively. A close collaboration between Pieter and director of photography Davide Belotti has led to a visual aesthetic that translates this thematic connectivity between the scenes.
stills from Togetherness
direction and screenplay, Pieter Desmet
director of photography, Davide Belotti
cast, Alexa Moya Panksep + Machias Bosschaerts + Julia Godino Llorens + Pauline Van Nuffel + Meike Stevens + Aki Iwamoto + Klara Esnerova + Daan Jaartsveld + Margot Masquelier
production, The Backyard vzw
co-production, Persona + Kokos / Wim Vandekeybus
producer, Pieter Desmet
production managers, Aïda Gabriëls + Annelies Heyrman
production assistant, Júlia Godino Llorens
soundtrack, Adriaan de Roover
editor, Samuel Agniel
first assistant camera, Giel Dhaenens
second assistant camera, Jonathan De Maeyer
gaffer, Jan Van Lindt
technician video projection, Schröder
boom operator, Jeroen Heymans + Tim Coenegrachts
art director, RV
set dressers, Junior Yussuf + Alexandros Anastasiadis + Maureen Bator + Magdalena Ottl + Steffi Mennen + Jonathan De Maeyer
costume The Creature, Machias Bosschaerts
tailoring, Machias Bosschaerts + Margot Masquelier
analogue set photographer, Yuan Yao
backstage photographer, Johan Pijpops + Jonathan De Maeyer
drivers, Maureen Bator + Steffi Mennen + Margot Masquelier
with the support of, Stad Antwerpen + Ostron + Petra Arckens
Special thanks to, AP Hogeschool Antwerpen / Royal Conservatory Antwerp + deSingel Internationale Kunstencampus + Ultima Vez + Destelheide
She's as red as her urges.
He's as white as his mechanism fighting.
She's as blue as her thoughts wandering around.
They're as beautiful as the timeless dreams they share.
Desolate Dreams is an installation performance that investigates solitary and isolated identities. Does the individual still create an identity when they are alone?
A person's identity is partly shaped by the outside world: parents, siblings, friends all play a role in the evolution of one's identity. So what happens when there is no one to shape yours? Desolate Dreams poses this hypothetical question to its performers and its audience.
The three performers each embody one of the three personality aspects analyzed by Freud: the id, the ego and the superego. They ask themselves whether the superego, which depends mainly on external, social factors, still has a reason to exist within a lonely identity.
In addition to the formation of one's identity, Pieter also poses the question of how time is perceived when one is alone in relation to how it is perceived collectively with others. Does it move at a slower or faster pace? Would the concept of time and the understanding of its passage still exist?
The work creates a distinct aesthetic atmosphere conveyed by the performers, the scenography and the absence of sound. The viewer is taken into a desolate dream world in search of who they really are.
Desolate Dreams was created for and performed at the MoMeNT Festival in Tongeren, Belgium.
© Tom Peeters
director, Pieter Desmet
dance, Machias Bosschaerts + Margot Masquelier + Pauline Thuriot
rehearsal director, Steffi Mennen
coaching, Dimitri Duquennoy
residency, De Veerman
with the support of, MoMeNT Festival Tongeren
SITE SPECIFIC SOLO
When the ego-mechanism fails,
Eros & Thanatos wake up.
Please, ego me.
For Ego Me, Pieter investigated how the ego mechanism fights against the sexual and aggressive urges of the Freudian id. The solo became a contest between the id and the ego battled in an industrial elevator. That elevator reflected Pieter's body while that body, in turn, interpreted his inner identity.
What contains deforms what is contained. Does the identity change according to its body?
The id is part of and was the seed of the general research the body as the manifestation of identity. According to Freud's psychoanalytic theory, the id is the part of the mind that contains the sexual - Eros - and aggressive - Thanatos - urges and the ego is the part that mediates those desires. In addition, the ego mechanism develops to mediate between the unrealistic id and the external world of reality. It is the decision-making component of the personality.
Pieter created this solo during his second bachelor year at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp and performed it during the "when does it get dark"-nights.
In 2022, Ego Me served, among other things, as inspiration for the dance science fiction film Togetherness directed by Pieter, produced by and made with and for The Backyard collective. During post-production Persona acted as co-producer.
© Mathias Theise
creation & performance, Pieter Desmet
mentoring, Caroline D'Haese + Natalie Gordon
Ego Me is part of the online archive of Platform In De Maak