Elastic Habitat

“These component souls are of many and very different natures, living in territories which are to them vast continents, and rivers, and seas, but which are yet only the bodies of our other component souls; coral reefs and sponge-beds within us; the animal itself being a kind of mean proportional between its house and its soul, and none being able to say where house ends and animal begins, more than they can say where animal ends and soul begins.”

Samuel Butler, Life and Habit

Elastic Habitat explores the imaginary, invisible and speculative body. It is an invitation to explore and stretch the usual habitat of one’s physical and virtual identity. The public is invited into an immersive installation, a sort of playground, where they can explore and animate textile sculptures. The sculptures are based on descriptions of the multi-layered metaphysical perceptions of one’s body, emerging out of prior one-to-one sessions. In these individual explorations participants are guided into an ‘auto-contemplation’ which results in a reconfiguration of the habitual perception of one’s presence. The descriptions of these perceptions are then formed into textile sculptures, or better textile bodies, each the material result of a momentary reconfiguration of a participant’s habitat.

The textile bodies are explored by the public entering the playground in small groups, through touching, wearing and thereby activating them. By donning these textile bodies, one is inspired or challenged to explore one’s habitual perceptions. It is a metaphorical invitation to get ‘under the skin’ and elude the clear distinction between self and other, inside and outside. Like a mise-en-abyme, these ‘relational objects’ open a perpetual cycle of translation between self and other, inside and outside, looping from feeling to movement, to language, to form and material, and back to sensation. The invitation to play with and through these textile bodies offers a space of childlike pleasure and intuitive exploration within oneself and the other, to think and perceive oneself through the senses.

Première: autumn 2017 – Veem House for Performance (Amsterdam)

Helena Dietrich

Helena Dietrich’s transdisciplinary work is influenced by feminist, post-colonial theory and the study of rituals, transformative body-experiences and their political and societal implications. Her artistic approach is often process-based and involves the audience as participants at different stages.

Janneke Raaphorst

Janneke Raaphorst works with text and textile. She creates flying carpets as vehicles for fantasy, storytelling or traveling. She not only brings to light equivalences and connections, but also things falling apart. The resulting contrast of decay and birth points at transformation. With this fascination for the life of material she specialized in the performativity of textile. This can mean a plastic bag folding out into a t-shirt or a catering service with dissolving shirts. In her practice as a costume designer she collaborates with choreographers for contemporary dance. The dancers bring her work to live, they embody constant change.


Concept: Helena Dietrich in collaboration with Janneke RaaphorstResearch and individual sessions: Helena DietrichTextile bodies: Janneke RaaphorstSounddesign: Lynn Rin SuemitsuScenography: in collaboration with Miriam RohdeCo-production: Buda, wpZimmer, Eau&Gaz, nadine, PianofabriekSupported by: Kaaitheater, CAMPO, Zsenne Art Lab