my august feels like december
a multidisciplinary installation performance by Pieter Desmet, 2023
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 + James Hall + 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
artistic assistant, Robbe Vandenven
movement assistant, Steffi Mennen
visual advice, Jonathan De Maeyer
production manager, Pauline Van Nuffel
co-production, De Spil + DansBrabant
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 the financial support of The Flemish Government + City of Ghent + VONK_studios + De Veerman
residency partners C-TAKT + Ultima Vez + Zuidpool + WALPURGIS|deFENIKS