We saw monsters

15 / 16 June at 10:00 p.m.
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
We Saw Monsters
artistic director Erna Ómarsdóttir
concept Erna Ómarsdóttir, Valdimar Jóhannsson
interpretation and collaboration in the performance Erna Ómarsdóttir, Valdimar Jóhannsson, Sigrígridur Soffía Níelsdóttir, Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, Ásgeir Helgi Magnússon and Lovísa Ósk Gunnarsdóttir
dramaturgy Karen Maria Jónsdóttir
music Valdimar Jóhannsson
costumes Gabríela Fridriksdóttir, Hrafnhildur Hólmgeirsdóttir
lighting Larus Björnsson, Sylvain Rausa
sound Lieven Dousselaere
production shalala ehf, Le CNDC of Angers - project «accueil studio/Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication», The National Theater of Iceland, Reykjavíks Artfestival, City of Kópavogur
production/distribution Esther Welger-Barboza
in co-production with la Biennale di Venezia, Berliner Festspiele - Spielzeit’europa as part of the ENPARTS – European Network of Performing Arts project.
with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Commission
with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Iceland and WP Zimmer/Antwerpen, PAF and CC De Warande in Turnhout
It could be Iceland’s extreme Nature that forged an artist as singular as Erna Ómarsdóttir, the author of powerful and disturbing performances in which dance becomes an instinctively physical, animal-like act and merges with an extreme type of music that comes from the gut. Ómarsdóttir considers this highly personal way of using the voice as “dancing with the voice”. She explains: “The voice is a muscle. This is the natural development of my work, it joins the movement or cuts through it transforming the space as well. I believe using the voice brings me closer to the soul. I like to experiment with the differences in the structures of all sounds, acoustic effects that come from the lowest of the depths, from the strangest and most unfamiliar recesses of the body. I let movement determine the voice but the opposite too. I abandon myself to the contrast between a satanic voice or the innocent singing of young girls, I allow myself to be permeated by all the instinctive sounds of man and animals, but I extrapolate them from a narrative context and recompose them in a soundscape…” (A. Cacciagrano and P. Di Matteo, “Art’o”).
Trained at the school of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Brussels, where the most advanced techniques of contemporary dance interact with the other artistic disciplines, in particular with theatre and music, for several years she worked with Jan Fabre’s company, which choreographed a solo for her, My Movements are alone like Street Dogs, that toured around the world, and finally with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Alain Platel’s Les Ballets C de la B. Today Erna Ómarsdóttir is an independent artist and divides her time between her native city, Reykjavik, and the cradle of her most significant artistic experiences, Brussels. In recent years, her creations, which she authors and interprets, have grown out of collaborations with musicians, such as Jóhann Jóhannsson and Valdimar Jóhannsson: IBM 1401 (a user manual) in 2002, The Mysteries of Love in 2005 and her latest work, We saw monsters, presented in a new version for the Biennale.

In We Saw Monsters, the Icelandic choreographer and performer seeks to get in touch with the primordial roots of our fears: “Monsters are often created in our minds out of fear of life, nature, darkness, the unknown and death – she writes. Thus we sometimes inadvertently give form to an abstract idea we have of terror. Over time, the parts are reversed and the real monsters that exist in modern society become the true cause of terror… Appearances can be deceiving and the boundaries between reality and imagination can become blurred”. Created as part of the ENPARTS (European Network of Performing Arts) project, the network of partnerships initiated by the Biennale di Venezia with European festivals and institutions active in the field of live performances, We Saw Monsters, co-produced by the Biennaleand the Berliner Festspiele – Spielzeit’europa, is a work in which dance, song, music and the visual arts come together in a single, poetic artistic expression.