Writing a novel about libertinage from his prison cell in 1785, Marquis de Sade declared that the nature of human passions authorizes crime. This moment in Western modernity marks the moral ambivalence in the bind between sexual liberation and power. While the legalization of pornography in Denmark in 1967 expanded the erotic freedom towards more gender equality, pornography today includes a politically wide range of expressions and uses, from queer and feminist stances to sexualized torture in war. The key to the affective power of pornography lies perhaps in the very root of the word: pernanai (Greek) = “to sell.” It explains how the pornographic “money-shot” operates in the climactic effects of “breaking news,” in the explosivity of action scenes or in brutality of authentic war porn.
Starting from the idea that pornography has leaked into many areas of society, Mette Ingvartsen explores the operations of the pornographic through a collection of erotic and affective materials. Most of them have little to do with explicit sex, yet they show some characteristics of the pornographic: expressions of cruelty, clinical precision, violence and pain, but sometimes also of laughter, excitement and thrill. By mixing physical action with narrative descriptions, a speculative choreography is created. The experiences that the viewer might undergo in this performance extend from imaginary to intense visceral sensations.
Mette Ingvartsen is a Danish choreographer and dancer. From 1999 she studied in Amsterdam and Brussels where she in 2004 graduated from the performing arts school P.A.R.T.S. Her first performance “Manual Focus” (2003) was made while she was still studying. Her early pieces comprise among others of "50/50" (2004), "to come" (2005), "It’s in The Air" (2008) and "GIANT CITY" (2009) - performances questioning affect, perception and sensation in relation to bodily representation. Her work is characterized by hybridity and engages in extending choreographic practices by combining dance and movement with other domains such as visual art, technology, language and theory.
An important strand of her work was developed between 2009 and 2012 with "The Artificial Nature Series", where she focused on reconfiguring relations between human and non-human agency through choreography. The series includes three performances devoid of human presence: "evaporated landscapes" (2009), "The Extra Sensorial Garden" (2011) "The Light Forest" (2010) and two in which the human figure was reintroduced: "Speculations" (2011) and the group work "The Artificial Nature Project" (2012).
By contrast her latest series, "The Red Pieces": "69 positions" (2014) "7 Pleasures" (2015), "to come (extended)" and "21 pornographies" (2017) inscribes itself into a history of human performance with a focus on nudity, sexuality and how the body historically has been a site for political struggles.
Ingvartsen established her company in 2003 and her work has since then been shown throughout Europe, as well as in the U.S, Canada and Australia. She has been artist-in-residence at Kaaitheater in Brussels (2012-2016), Volksbühne in Berlin, and associated to the APAP network.
She holds a PhD in choreography from UNIARTS / Lunds University in Sweden.
Besides making, performing, writing and lecturing, her practice also includes teaching and sharing research through workshops with students at universities and art schools.