Rebellion of the Cell - pilot project

January & February 2020

Oslo, Norway

Many Butoh dancers refer to their bodies on a micro-level as collection of cells, or describe internal processes that they work with even though they are not visible to the audience. Honza Svasek wrote: "Butoh is about the body seeking freedom from human and cultural programming. It is a revolution of the body. Perceiving the body as a colony of trillions and trillions of cells, each with its own memory, resonating with life, co-creating life, makes it possible to drop the mind and sink deep into the body to dance the whole of existence" and Toshiharu Kasai claimed: “A Butoh dancer can appear to be standing still while he shifts the air in the right lung to the left via his/her trachea with indiscernible bodily movements”. Yet, it is unknown what this internal micro-level is like and it remains considered purely as a metaphor. We, however, recognise a great potential in exploring this idea literally with the use of microbiological science. 

We have collaborated with prof. Erik Johannessen from The Institute for Microsystems at Universitetet i Sørøst Norge to observe moving  white blood cells of the Butoh dancer Azumaru. We have also run a workshop with the scientists from The Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming at Universitetet i Oslo, working together on a choreographic material based on the newest knowledge and visual images of cancer cells and their behaviour. 

This pilot project will be further developed into a full scale production in 2021. 

Director & producer: Karolina Bieszczad-Stie

Co-director & designer: Adam Bartley

Laboratory work: Erik Andrew Johannessen

Scientific collaboration: Harald Alfred Stenmark (Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming)

Dancer: Azumaru

Documentation: Stein Stie

Supported by:

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Inside out - pilot project

March - September 2020

Oslo, Norway

“Inside out” will be a performative installation involving the audience as co-creators of the event. This interdisciplinary project is based on Karolina Bieszczad-Stie’s PhD on Butoh dance photography, and uses studies on consciousness to share with the audience the multi-modal experience of a dance photographer as an alternative to photographs. Furthermore, the project challenges the context in which the artwork is created by allowing participants to become artistic collaborators, performers and, finally, content in a digitally mediated work. Our aim is to provide a multi-layered work that will be engaging on many cognitive, physical and emotional levels.


In the pilot project Karolina and VOID's team focused on finding new ways of engaging the audience in a Butoh performance, where the public’s experience is part of the art itself. 

The starting point was Karolina’s PhD research conducted 10 years ago, in which she examined the Butoh dance photographer’s experience as a performance. She studied a split of a second when the photographer releases the shutter (takes a picture) and his consciousness/ subconsciousness in that very moment. She described this act as a multi-modal pre-thought gesture that “performs”, i.e. changes the encounter between the photographer and the Butoh dancer into what she called “a photo-performance”. By its nature, the photo-performance can only be experienced by the photographers themselves and cannot be shared with others simultaneously as it happens due to its experiential exclusiveness and liveness. In this pilot project, however, we explored ways to create an event from which the audience will emerge. We took this self-exploration process as well as photo-performance aesthetics developed in Karolina’s thesis, a step further in order to pin down a possibility of placing the audience in a similar context to that of a Butoh photographer. 

The pilot project will be further developed into a full scale production in 2022. 

Director & producer: Karolina Bieszczad-Stie

Creative collaborator: VOID

Supported by: