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“Towards Documentary Choreography - Intermedial Approaches in Working with Extra-Aesthetic Materials” is the title of Arkadi Zaides’ PhD research project, which is conducted as a practice-based joint PhD between the University of Antwerp, The Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, the University of Ghent and KASK/School of Arts (HoGent). The project will run from 2021 to 2025 and will consist of a series of workshops, lectures, publications, master classes, and performances that explore the concept and practice of ‘documentary choreography’.

This term refers to a type of choreographic work that incorporates documents (such as interviews, testimonies, video materials, archival information, etc.) as sources of factual information that can be used to question and intervene in social and political realities. By integrating these documents with embodied practices, documentary choreography aims to transcend the boundaries of the artistic field and engage with the actual political realm. Through this project, Arkadi Zaides seeks to reflect on his own artistic work in the last decade, as well as to connect with other practitioners and scholars who share similar interests and approaches.

Credits & Collaborators

Supervisors Annouk Van Moorsel, Prof. dr. Timmy De Laet, Dr. Jelena Jureša, Prof. dr. Christel Stalpaert Individual PhD commission chair Prof. dr. Kyoko Iwaki Individual PhD commission member Dr. Kristof Van Baarle Grants Medium-scale research infrastructure by the Research Foundation – Flanders (UGent, FWO) for the Necropolis United project

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Articles & Reviews

Towards Documentary Choreography - Encounter #1

by Arkadi Zaides, a three-day symposium at Beursschouwburg, Brussels, 12/23

For this symposium, which follows from his practice-based PhD research, Arkadi Zaides invited various practitioners and scholars to reflect collectively on the notion of “documentary choreography”. By looking at concrete case studies and by proposing various theoretical lenses, the participants explored the strategies used by artists when combining embodied and documentary practices. Through different formats, they considered the potentiality of such blending not only to challenge the boundaries of contemporary dance and documentary theater, but also to engage critically with social and political issues.

Necropolis. Counter Forensic Practices for Mourning the ‘Othered’ Dead

by Arkadi Zaides, in Rekto Verso, issue 96: Post Mortem, 09/22

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 deaths of refugees and migrants who have attempted to reach Europe. This database forms the basis for the performance ‘Necropolis’, in which choreographer and director Arkadi Zaides attempts to outline an ‘invisible city of the dead’, mapped from the graves of the migrants who could not reach their final destinations in Europe.

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.

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.