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Notes on Unearth Jefta van Dinther Bonniers Konsthall c/o Dansens Hus

April 13-14, 2024

Photo: Jubal Battisti. Courtesy of Dansens Hus

Moving clearly beyond the insular and increasingly liaising with contemporary dance and its venues in Stockholm, appears to be the new black for the leading art venues in Stockholm as of late. In recent history such turn dates back already to MDT joining forces with Moderna Museet for Every Ocean Hughes' exhibition Alive Time in 2022, which had the new Curator of International Art Contemporary Art, Hendrik Folkerts, then freshly arrived from the Art Institute of Chicago, busting out a few moves on Skeppsholmen. Unprecedented, given how ghostly reclusive his peers at the museum have been in the last decade, but definitely began to set a new precedent of border-crossing that continues to echo, apparently, in the present. Jefta van Dinther has in receny years been affiliated with Cullberg as an associate choreographer, presenting a couple of works that parts of our team are still raving about whenever dance is concerned in conversation. At hand for his Unearth is a union between Dansens Hus and Bonniers Konsthall, where Dansens Hus concurrently as well has been shouldering with Accelerator for Nikima Jadugajev's ongoing Basically.

Photo: Jubal Battisti. Courtesy of Dansens Hus

This iteration of Unearth at the konsthall has been prefaced as a ”durational” piece of ”near 4h”. One of the things it does for me is wondering about ”the protocol” for when the structural device that is ”long-durational” really is substantiated by necessesity, or marked by routine (pun intended) - or is agenda-based. In the clinical open white space at the konsthall, where a local audience appears not receptive at all to cues of being free to move around, and while is positively transfixated by the piece, also more (un)surprisingly remains immobilized, it does get clear to me that a staging inside a distinct architecture, like a church would have been - more apt. But the question arises on the account of Unearth not being a particularly ambiguous piece; on the contrary, it’s direct; gesturally and through vocal performance lets it gist be known within 15 mins. It’s absolutely beautiful and I love it - instantly. Looking at the cast spread along the walls; wow - all so enigmatic in their mimicry, as a whiff and sensation of an army of Rick Owens-clad ”warriors” finds itself. They all carry a tune, they join in unison harmonies and deliver solo singing streaks that make you wonder where such versatile, gifted performers all were made. Unearth, suffice it to say almost immediately taps into the current collective psyche and zeitgeist of existenstial dread and guilt; seeing what we’re all seeing ”around” us - and with all of us wondering what we are even doing right - or - wrong, in this dystopian time era.

Photo: Jubal Battisti. Courtesy of Dansens Hus

And there’s something wry and honest in recognizing that the individual grind, still as the grounds of society fall apart, needs to happen, and does, in our own bubbles. Unearth is smart that way; it plays on the feeling of a post-apocalyptic, post-war and post-pandemic/epidemic state of things; on a macro level, but manages to personalize the human condition too on a micro lens-level.

One of the performers belts out about a photograph her lover took of her naked in a bed at age 23.

”Do you still have it - and would you use it to hurt me?”

Ashik Zaman 

Choreography: Jefta van Dinther

Performers: Brittanie Brown, Juan Pablo Camara, emeka ene, Leah Katz, Gyung Moo Kim, Manon Parent, Sarah Stanley, Thomas Zamolo and Jefta van Dinther

Costume: Cristina Nyffeler


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