sarah van lamsweerde

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Cast Witnesses

Performance series / video

Cast Witnesses is a research and performance-project around classical archeological reproductions. The historical background of a number of singular plaster cast collections in Europe, the antagonism between original and copy and the exploration of so-called touch tours, serve as inspiration for performative research in which both aesthetic and empathic relationships between art and its observers are exposed in all their ambiguities.

Plaster cast copies of classical sculptures represent mostly mythological figures, often incomplete or assembled from diverse originals. Their missing parts are somehow more present to us than the visible remains. Archaeological replicas reinforce human idealizations through time, turning history into a casting call of stereotypical body proportions and gestures: eroded models enter living bodies.

Cast Witnesses relates to these leftover replicas of a past civilization by using the plaster figures as proxies for our collective pains and desires. With tactile and textual interactions, two mediators will guide visitors along their disjointed counterparts, in a performative experience that blends ekphrasis (art works described purely for the mind’s eye) with therapy.

While standing and waiting to enter the plaster sculpture attic, you may lean forward and backwards, your spine acquiring the best position to accommodate your hip joints, your head tilted to one side. Can you trace the chronicles of your life carried inside your body?

See here for video sneakpeek and research notes

Cast Witnesses premiered in November 2016 at Playground Festival in Leuven (BE). The following series will be hosted in May and June 2017 by the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam (NL). The next phase, a video work of the project, will be screened in the autumn at Beursschouwburg Brussels and Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond in Amsterdam. This will coincide with a new performative development of the project, hosted by Oude Kerk as one of its Nachtelijke Dwalingen.