Celestial bodies is a travelling art collective run by seven artists from seven countries. Once a year we meet to share our practices with the aim to expand, exchange and connect anew. Each congress, that lasts approximately two weeks, is a celebration of courage, care, empathy, vulnerability and wonder - the very themes that brought us together and challenged us to work together - through different mediums that reflect Celestial bodies’ wide range of artistic formats, questions and methods.
The yearly congress is full of self-discoveries through sharing raw unfinised work with the others. We want to create safer spaces to be able to grow and allow for experimentation. We do that by slowing down, to be able to be with ourselves, each other and the environment. The trust that is created allows for deeper listening, witnessing, experimentation and courage. Rather than focusing on a specific outcome, we support being on the journey of making and creating.
Celestial bodies is dedicated to cultivating connection despite geographical distance and of finding ways to reconnect over and over again.
Nora Tormann (1992, Germany) is a Berlin-based artist and dramaturg working with and around performance, choreography, and writing. Having a background in political philosophy and in contemporary dance, her practice meanders on the fringes of artistic and theoretical research, pulling into questions the paradigms that constitute each sphere of knowledge. Since 2017 she develops her own work which is being shown in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and at the CELESTIAL BODIES Performing Arts Festival in Reykjavík. A major interest that is reflected upon throughout her work are bodies as political and philosophical emplacements – how ideological regimes shape bodies and vice versa. As a dramaturg she accompanies other artists’ work, such as the dance-collective Grupo Oito and a performance collective for children “men in back”. Nora has been teaching contemporary dance and developed workshops at the intersection of philosophy, movement practice and body politics at various festivals and conferences such as Care & Postgrowth at Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie. She obtained a Master in Fine Arts in Performing Arts at Icelandic Academy of the Arts and a Bachelor in Liberal Arts & Sciences focussing on political philosophy, Gender Studies, and politics in the Netherlands and Mexico.
Elsa Mencagli (1990, Denmark/Italy) is a multimedia artist currently based in Lisbon. Her work starts with a practice of listening and becoming present at site, being that nature or human made. Through different medias - installation, video, or performance - she constructs ephemeral environments addressing the sensory body. In that she explores strangely intimate encounters between human and other-than-human bodies, materialities and places. The aim is to create a space for re-thinking upon the ecological relationship with the environment, in ways that can bring us closer to other realities.
Elsa graduated with an MFA in Performing Arts from the Iceland University of the Arts, Reykjavik 2019, and a BA in Architecture from the Aarhus School of Architecture, Aarhus 2016.
Íris Stefanía (1986, Iceland) is a performance artist and curator working within the realm of feminism with a focus on women's sexual behaviour; their longings and desires, taboos and shame. Pleasure is the center and a starting point in Iris's practice. She has collected and published masturbation stories from women and held gatherings where she performs verbal flashing inspired by the Goddess Baubo.
Iris focuses on the pleasurable. In her work she has been opening up the discussion and addressing some taboos regarding women's right to choose what they do with their lives and bodies with the aim to empower women all around the world.
Besides from pleasure and masturbation Iris has recently been working with the themes; ecosexuality, orgasmic birth and women who choose a childfree lifestyle.
Ellen Vanderstraeten (1995,Belgium) is an object explorer who works with performing arts in diverse spaces such as the stage, her own home as well as the homes of others, abandoned places, public spaces such as swimming pools and shop windows. Ellen’s cross disciplinary performances explore a mix of media from objects, print, costume, music, dance, documentary, storytelling and video. The work implicates the spectator in a playful and immersive experience in order to connect art and life practices in an immediate manner. She investigates themes such as the relationship between fiction and truth, body and object, the self and the other. The work often involves a set up of intimate one-to-one performances and collective actions.
Ellen Vanderstraeten graduated in 2017 from the RITCS (Brussels) with the performance installation ‘Dancing Darlings’ in collaboration with fine artist Elise Gyshelen. In 2018 she created an artistic beauty salon in collaboration with children of the neighborhood Laeken (Brussels) and the project ‘UNI Beauty Salon’ was presented at the participatory festival ENTER BXL. Ellen has been working and presenting multidisciplinary artwork in Belgium, Ukraine, Iceland, Finland and Canada. In October 2019 Ellen obtained a Master in Performing Arts at the Iceland University of the Arts. After she assisted in several of collective projects such as Senselab (a laboratory for thought in motion initiated by Erin Manning) in Montréal, ‘After Erika Eiffel’ by Loren kronemyer in Finland at ANTI Festival, and ‘Cultural Diversity Lab’ at UQAM (CA) initiated by Romeo gongora.
María Arnardóttir (1989, Iceland) is an artist based in Iceland. Trained in music, design, mindfulness, performance and ceramics - she uses her wide range of experiences as tools to manipulate and create spaces.
Her work is often site-specific and exists at the blurry intersection of performance and installation. The work focuses on play and process more so than outcomes and results. This focus contributes to broadening the idea of performance by using it as an instrument for cultural exercise and social action.
She has developed a body of transdisciplinary solo and collective work in Europe and North America. María regularly collaborates with artists who share her ongoing fascinations with the physicality of both performer and audience. Textures, rituals and Icelandic turf houses are topics of current exploration.
Paula Diogo (1977, Portugal) is a performer and stage director with a particular interest in improbable ideas. With an artistic background based on collaborative processes, she has been meandering through art making and producing in recent years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Training of Actors / Directors by the ESTC in Lisbon, and a Master's in Performing Arts from the LHÍ (Icelandic Academy of Arts) with grants from the FCG and the GDA. She was a co-founder of Teatro Praga (1995-08), TRUTA (2003-10) and O Pato Profissional Lda (2003-10). In 2004 she was distinguished by CPAI with the Teatro na Década Award – Best Actress for the performance Private Lives, by Teatro Praga. In 2006 she received a grant from the CNC to follow the work of the Gob Squad (UK / DE) in Berlin. In 2007 she attended the Staging Course of the CCA Program at the FCG, with the british company Third Angel. In 2010 she was a resident director at the NTN in Naples, Italy, under the artistic direction of Antonio Latella. She has worked with several artists and companies over the years, such as: Lúcia Sigalho, Filipe Melo, Antonio Latella, Tiago Rodrigues, Madalena Victorino, Nuno Carinhas, João Pedro Vaz, Pedro Lacerda, Jacinto Lucas Pires, Mala Voadora, Cão Solteiro, Alain Fourneau, Rimini Protokoll, Philippe Quesne, among others. In recent years, within Má-Criação, she has collaborated regularly with the artists Alfredo Martins (TMV), Cláudia Gaiolas (TMV), Alex Cassal (FM) and Alexander Kelly (TA), consolidating a platform that joins creators from different artistic and geographical backgrounds. She lives in Lisbon.
Zofia Tomczyk (1993, Poland) is connected to contemporary dance, improvisation, dreamwork and experimental music. Currently working as a dancer at The Polish Dance Theatre in Poznan in Poland. Graduated from the MFA in Performing Arts program at Iceland University of the Arts in Reykjavik (2019) and bachelor studies in composition and dance techniques at Poznań School of Social Sciences (2015). Since 2015 have been exploring working with dreams learning from Bonnie Buckner, Anna Nowicka, Anna Godowska and Sławomir Krawczyński. In 2019 – 2020 a student of The School of Images® by Catherine Shainberg in New York. Currently a student of a postgraduate study program in Process Oriented Psychology by Fundacja Instytut Psychologii Procesu in Poland. Received a scholarship from: the National Institute of Music and Dance in Poland, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland, Art Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk and Poznań City Hall.
As a travelling collective, Celestial bodies creates and reenforces a network of artists. Connecting the dots of past and future meetings a map enfolds - giving shape to a landscape of flourishing encounters.
Our next meeting takes place in Tuscania, Italy in August/September 2022.
If you are an artist interested in working with us – please get in touch.
If you represent a cultural organization, theater company or art venue and want to support our work – please get in touch.
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