For over a quarter of a century, "UNITED for Intercultural Action", a network of hundreds of anti-racist organizations from all around Europe, has been compiling a list registering 40,555 deaths of refugees and migrants who have attempted to reach Europe since 1993. Such disasters are usually handled with a standardized almost automatic institutional response: pathologists and forensic experts are deployed to collect medical and biological data from bodies and from living relatives in order to enable identification. However, this procedure has not been followed for most of the victims of the current migration crisis at the gates of Europe. At the bottom of the sea, on the shores, and inland, a mass of decomposed bodies and body parts tells the story of a collective whose ghost hovers over European territory. For their research, Arkadi Zaides and his team delve into the practice of forensics to conceive a new virtual database documenting the remains of those whose death is to this day mostly unacknowledged. This growing archive, this map, this site named NECROPOLIS is stretching in all directions across space and time, interrelating the mythologies, histories, geographies, movements, and anatomies of those who have been granted entrance to the city of the dead.

Credits & Collaborators

Concept & direction Arkadi Zaides Dramaturgy, text and voice Igor Dobricic Research and choreography assistant Emma Gioia Sculpture Moran Senderovich 3D modeling Mark Florquin Avatar animation Jean Hubert Animation assistant Thibaut Rostagnat Sound design Aslı Kobaner Grave location search Aktina Stathaki, Amalie Lynge Lyngesen, Amber Maes, Amirsalar Kavoosi, Ans Van Gasse, Arkadi Zaides, Benjamin Pohlig, Bianca Frasso, Carolina-Maria Van Thillo, Christel Stalpaert, Doreen Kutzke, Dorsa Kavoosi, Elisa Franceschini, Elvura Quesada, Emma Gioia, Filippo Furri, Frédéric Pouillaude, Gabriel Smeets, Giorgia Mirto, Gosia Juszczak, Igor Dobricic, Ilka Van Bijlen, Jordy Minne, Joris Van Imschoot, Julia Asperska, Juliane Beck, Katia Gandolfi, Katja Seitajoki, Lilas Forissier, Lina Gilani Tsitouri, Lovis Heuss, Luca Lotano, Lucille Haddad, Maite Zabalza, Maria Sierra Carretero, Mercedes Roldan, Myriam Van Imschoot, Myrto Katsiki, Osnat Kelner, Özge Atmış, Pepa Torres Perez, Sarah Leo, Selby Jenkins, Simge Gücük, Solveig Gade, Sunniva Vikør Egenes, Tamara Vajdíková, Tilemachos Tsolis, Yannick Bosc, Yari Stilo Administration & production Simge Gücük / Institut des Croisements Co-produced by Theatre de la Ville (FR), Montpellier Danse 40 Bis (FR), Charleroi Danse (BE), CCN2 Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble (FR), les ballets C de la B(BE), Tanz im August / HAU Hebbel am Ufer (DE), La Filature – Scène nationale de Mulhouse (FR) Residency support STUK (BE), CCN – Ballet de Lorraine (FR), Workspacebrussels (BE), PACT Zollverein (DE), WP Zimmer (BE), Cie Thor (BE) Support for experimentation RAMDAM, un centre d'art (FR) International distribution Helena Elshout / laGeste (les ballets C de la B & kabinet k)

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Articles & Reviews

Tentacular Thinking in Storied Places

by Christel Stalpaert, Arkadi Zaides, Michel Lussault, Philippe Rekacewicz, Igor Dobricic, Atelier Cartographique in GPS (Global Performance Studies), 01/22

This text is an in-between report of the ongoing collaborative practices of the NecropolisLAB in relation to the research-based perfromance project Necropolis. Every performance of Noceropolis is a preliminary culmination point in the many-faceted and long-term process, placing the body and choreography (in its most expansive sense) as key attention points. The Necropolis erformance calls upon the local (European) audience to individually and collectively acknowledge the death of people wh are dying on the Europien shore by mapping their place of death, performing a grave location search and a walk towards a grave of a migrant.

Staring Straight into the Migrant Tragedy: Arkadi Zaides’ Shock Performance

by Emmanuelle Bouchez, Telerama, 06/21

Sur scène, assis à sa table, installé de dos avec Emma Gioia, co-interprète, il manipule son écran d’ordinateur projeté en grand. Une carte de France et d’Europe vue du ciel, truffée de balises rouges. À chaque zoom sur un point, un nom apparaît. Avec un rapide CV qui fait froid dans le dos. Âge, origine, circonstances de la mort. Noyé « dans la mer du milieu » ou accidenté de la route pour avoir voulu échapper à la police des frontières. Plus de 44 500 personnes ont été dénombrées par l’association humanitaire United for Intercultural Action, sur laquelle le performeur a appuyé son travail.

Necropolis – Walking through a List of Deaths

by Arkadi Zaides, for (W)archives: Archival imaginaries, war, and contemporary art, edited by Daniela Agostinho, Solveig Gade, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, and Kristin Veel, Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press, 12/20

In Europe after World War II, there were massive efforts to search for missing soldiers and citizens, many of which remained unresolved for decades. Only in the early 1990s, after Gorbachev's perestroika, were the Russian archives opened, finally allowing access to information about millions of German prisoners of war who had been previously untraceable. Since 2004, the German Red Cross has digitized two million prisoner files belonging to missing German soldiers and civilians from Russian military archives to create a database with personal information and details about their fates. Germany has not been the only country to conduct such efforts.

Bodies as Evidence

by Sandra Noeth, for the Tanz Im August Magazine, 08/20

Movement is the primary starting point of the research, movements of people who are systematically and brutally stopped by border policies. This is about thousands of bodies that are absent, silenced, drowned. It’s about a collective body, haunting us. Another aspect lies in the material itself, in a gesture performed by all of us involved in the project “NECROPOLIS”, and I’d like to call this a choreographic gesture. Wherever we are, we scroll through the list put out by UNITED for Intercultural Action – a network of hundreds of anti-racist organisations in Europe, and one of our central sources of data – and there or nearby, like now in Berlin, we try to find the burial places of migrants and undocumented asylum-seekers who couldn't reach Europe alive.