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Under Construction in Veem House: Oda Brekke

8 December 2021 — by Lies Mensink

Oda Brekke turns her gaze towards that which we usually do not see: The dust that lingers on the dance mat. Or the memory of movement stored inside a dancer’s body. The Stockholm based dance artist is in residence at Veem House for Performance researching what traces remain once the dancing stops. Oda: “I don’t think dance is fleeting and disappears, it is something that constantly transforms.”

Oda Brekke?
Norwegian Oda Brekke works as a dancer and choreographer in Stockholm since graduating there at DOCH/Stockholm university of the arts in 2017. Critical of the violent shift from graduation to a competitive working field she and her classmates founded INSISTER SPACE, an artist-driven platform, wishing to reshape the neoliberal structures in the dance-field. A year later she co-founded höjden a collective studio space.

As a performer she is drawn to that which goes unnoticed, or that which we at least try to hide from view. Oda: “I’m interested in the kind of waste we produce and the aesthetic experience of seeing and meeting that waste. I’m not so much interested in provocation, but to shift the gaze to that which we normally don’t pay attention to.” In the dance studio of Veem House she and her collaborator Lisa Schåman fix their view on  microparticles, the traces that usually become most apparent in our absence: dust.

What fascinates you about dust?
“When you face it there is a kind of sublime horror experience. In a way you can think of dust and the rest products that fall of our bodies as small deaths. Dust only becomes visible, when it has accumulated over a certain amount of time. Or because you change your way of seeing: for instance, because you are cleaning, or literally because you’re lying on the floor. In dance class I experienced this a lot suddenly noticing the dust on the floor. This is what I’m interested in my practice: how can we change the way we see; the way we hear; the way we touch and feel?”

This residency is part of an exchange between MDT Stockholm, and Veem House. Last month Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen came to you in Stockholm for a residency, and now you are here in Amsterdam. How is the exchange with Sigrid so far?
“It is really nice to have someone in the scene that can show you where the great performances are. I visited her at Jacuzzi, and she tipped the exhibitions, and venues that don’t immediately come up at google. It is great to get an insight into what happens in the art scene in Amsterdam and how they organize.”

Besides a change of view from your window, is it really different working in a studio space in Amsterdam as opposed to Stockholm?
“Yes, very: first of all, not being in the city where you live, gives you a break from all the practicalities that constantly interrupt your artistic work. It is a really great way of finding focus. Plus I also get new input in the work through visiting exhibitions and performances here in Amsterdam.”

How do you begin to work in an empty studio? Do you have a fixed method?
“It is very easy to start with talking and reading and then it is also very easy to procrastinate the dancing and performing.. Don’t know if it is because of the pressure that there is this threshold. But that’s why I always immediately start working on the floor from the beginning on. I often use a timer, I do a movement practice for thirty minutes, then thirty minutes of reading, and thirty minutes of writing. I try to pull out things that interest me and develop them the next day.”

I see stacks of pink yellow and green post-its on the floor, are those ‘the things you pulled out?’
“Yes, the pink ones are performance proposals, the yellow ones are concepts: reflections on the things we read. The green ones are ideas on how to bridge those yellow and pink post-its.”

This Friday you will share your research during Open Studio, is sharing your process important for you?
”In the book Art as Practice|Art as Object (of which Oda was in the editorial team) director and dramaturg Anders Paulin describes making the artistic work public as a circle that keeps on expanding. Maybe this circle started with me reading a book about dust, and then when I asked Lisa to read it with me, the circle expanded further. I invited Sigrid into the studio, she reflects on what she sees, and the circle expands. The audience is also part of this process; it is a way of breaking with the idea that the artist knows the work and has something to teach the audience. Performing for an audience is also a process where you learn about the work– the artist is not an expert of their own work, it is foreign to us and usually out of our control. When you put your material out on the table and someone else responds to it, it does something to the material and to your own reading of it. Sharing my research with others is a really important part of the process.”

This Friday, December 10th at 20.00 (CET), you can join Oda as the circle further expands. Together with Lisa Schåman she will share her research online through the format of a performance lecture. 

This residency is part of an exchange between MDT in Stockholm and Veem House for Performance in Amsterdam. The chosen artists for the residency are Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen (Amsterdam) and Oda Brekke (Stockholm). Last month, Sigrid went to Stockholm for a residency at MDT and now Oda is in Amsterdam for a residency at Veem House. Oda’s residency in Amsterdam is part of a collaboration with Henny Jurriëns Studio.

The residency exchange is a DANCE HUB project of the Life Long Burning Network (with the support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union).


Online Open Studio with Oda Brekke

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