sarah van lamsweerde


80 Words

Performance / research

80 Words is a project about what happens to a language when there are only 80 words to speak it. Are words still a reliable currency, now that “freedom of speech” suffers from heavy inflation? What happens to the imagination when communication is reduced to the minimum? Can (self)censorship be a good thing?

It’s a time of clipping; it is a time of skipping; it is a time of cutting.

Imagine being in a room that looks like an undeveloped photograph - a dark lab, where your senses are heavily deprived. An isolated researcher guides you through a slide show. You are introduced to her singular subject, A. Words and gestures are stripped to the bone; your imagination is gently encouraged to combine phantom phrases with after-images, leaving you no choice but to make highly subjective conclusions.


'80 Words', performance detail. Photo JP van Popta
  '80 Words', performance detail. Photo JP van Popta

In winter 2010 / spring 2011, I spent a number of weeks doing field and documentation research, preparing for a first presentation of '80 Words' on the 23rd of April 2011 in Het Veem Theater.

The research presentation took the form of an exposé / slideshow, a personal recount of my fascination for language, in the course of which I presented several lists of 80 words, and one list of gestures. These lists are also gathered in a booklet, made together with graphic designer Céline Wouters, which was distributed to the audience present that night.

'80 Words' - research publication. Graphic design Céline Wouters 


read Hard//Hoofd review here (English/Dutch)

read Theaterkrant review here (Dutch)

Concept, text, performance: Sarah van Lamsweerde
Dramaturgical assistance: Zhana Ivanova
Research assistance: Andrew Fremont-Smith
Graphic design slides & booklet: Céline Wouters
Scenography and video set-up: Marloeke van der Vlugt
Production: Het Veem Theater