an art installation with film

Conceived, written and directed by Jan Fabre. Performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Film by Jan Fabre and Phil Griffin.

For the past four years, iconic Belgian artist Jan Fabre and legendary performer Mikhail Baryshnikov have worked together on their first collaboration.

Of Mr. Baryshnikov, Jan Fabre says: “I first met him in 2009. I was struck by his incredible hypnotic blue eyes and his gentle personality. Before we met, I had seen Mr.Baryshnikov dance in many documentaries, and I saw a dancer who is more than just a dancer. I saw a contemporary performer who gave spiritual weight and meaning to movement, and by that reason content. Years went by, and I was lucky to see Mr. Baryshnikov perform live in Manchester. I thought immediately that my theatre text NOT ONCE. would be something for him because I saw a performer in action that embodies the ancient idea of metamorphosing and transforming into something else. We had great days working together in Antwerp. Mr. Baryshnikov is a stubborn and very detailed artist. Exactly what I like”.

Based on a monologue written by Jan Fabre, NOT ONCE. unveils – through 11 imaginary rooms of a photographic exhibition – the platonic relationship between the subject and a female photographer who, for years, has manipulated his body and reworked it into different entities. The multimedia work is conceived for film and performance and explores the relation between an artist, his work and life, his public, and ultimately, the balance between giving and taking – between dependency and independency.

Mr. Baryshnikov says of the collaboration: “I’ve lived a long life, but never thought that one day I would be part of a museum installation. It’s a first for me. I’ve known Jan Fabre as a visual artist for many years, and have been acquainted with his work. When I visited TroubleynLaboratorium in Antwerp I was surprised and flattered when Jan proposed this project. He told me he had a challenging text in mind, which intrigued me – why this text, and why me? I now think he can answer that question better than I can, but working with him has been an intense and fascinating experience. He works like a painter, throwing ideas in, trying things, fearless experimentation. I’ve never worked like that before. I hope that Jan got the canvas he wanted.”

Conceived and designed as an art installation with film, this new creation will be presented to museums and theatre audiences worldwide in 2019.