Florentina Holzinger
Havneetyde/Harbour Etude
Sat 24 Aug 2024

Bergen Kunsthall presents a new large-scale commission by artist and choreographer Florentina Holzinger. Holzinger works across artistic disciplines and has produced extensive and widely discussed theatre productions. Since 2020, Holzinger and her team have been arranging experiments in public spaces, creating compositions between bodies, sound and architecture. Under the title “Études”, these one-time performances take place on lakes, parking lots, streets, and public squares.

According to Frederic Chopin, ‘an etude is a musical composition of considerable difficulty, designed to provide practice material for an instrument and its player’. Yet, they are designed to ‘always please the audience in concert’.

In her artistic practice Holzinger brings together live musical elements, performative gestures, and stunts — an extreme form of physical activity that requires precise, technical training. She sees all her work to date as a continuous examination of her own body: to experience and train it, to stand up for itself. Holzinger’s work continuously pushes the boundaries of performance styles, moving between pop references and high culture, classical dance references and circus shows.

For the work in Bergen, Florentina Holzinger and her team are expanding their research and interest in the element of water. For this commission, they explore different modes of human representation and the potential of different bodies and forms of physicality, constantly working to expand the limits and capabilities of the human body.

Water is the element of adaptability; its capacity to expand and shift state symbolises an endless, eternal, undissolvable unity with the outside world. Iconographically, water was often associated with femininity — from nymphs and sirens to female bodies depicted with a fishtail symbolising their deprived sexuality. Globally today, we witness a shortage of drinking water on the one hand and rising sea levels with subsequent flooding on the other. Is it possible to escape the precarious circumstances of our present day, characterised by climate catastrophe scenarios, through training?

How machines can co-exist with dancers in a choreography – hybrids of the human body and machine – is a leading question for Holzinger. A blurring of flesh and prosthesis has occurred time and time again in previous works, in the form of stunt devices, training aids, or motorised vehicles. In her most toured work, “Tanz”, the performers fly through the air on motorcycles — perhaps the equivalent of the contemporary broomstick. This use of external machines and devices to train the human body repeatedly alludes to Holzinger’s constant attempt to expand the physical possibilities of the performers.

Bergen, located between water and mountains, a hub for the shipping industry, and home to large offshore training centres, offers the ideal context to bring together Holzinger’s interest in human-water and human-machine themes. Working in public space allows for new experimentations — to work with the actual speed of a car (Etude for Disappearing Berlin, 2021), with water as a working surface (Kranetude, 2023) or with fire on a large scale (Crap-Etude, 2023). What if the helicopter could really fly?

Admission to the performance is free. The location will be announced closer to date.

Florentina Holzinger (born in 1986 in Vienna) is an internationally acclaimed performance artist and choreographer. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Volksbühne Berlin. Her most recent works include the theatre piece “Ophelia’s Got Talent” and the performance opera “SANCTA”, presented at Mecklenburgische Staatstheater, Wiener Festwochen, and Staatsoper Stuttgart.

This project was produced in collaboration with Phileas – The Austrian Office for Contemporary Art, and is generously supported by Federal Ministry of Republic of Austria: Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport and Bergen Kommune.

Choreography, concept, direction: Florentina Holzinger
Performers: Xana Novais, Netti Nüganen, Paige A. Flash, Florentina Holzinger, among others
Scene, concept: Nikola Knežević
Sound Design: Stefan Schneider
Technical direction: Stephan Werner
Stunt coordinator: Ronny Horning
Production: neon lobster / Sarah Parolin, Katharina Wallisch, Giulia Messia
Management and international Distribution: neon lobster / Giulia Messia, Katharina Wallisch