CELESTIAL BODIES is a travelling art collective run by seven artists from six countries. Once a year we meet to share our practices with the aim to expand, exchange and connect anew. Each encounter 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 encounter is full of self-discoveries through sharing raw unfinished 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, their practice meanders on the fringes of artistic and theoretical research, pulling into question the paradigms that constitute each sphere of knowledge. Nora’s choreographic work circulates around questions of how bodies work as political and philosophical emplacements – how ideological regimes shape bodies and vice versa. As a dance-dramaturg, they work with collectives and solo artists and are specifically interested in practices of care as a framework for doing dramaturgy.
Their research and work are supported by federal and district scholarships and grants. In 2022, Nora is the recipient of an international research grant by the Berlin Senat for continuing their research in Mexico. Since 2021, they have received several scholarships by the Fonds Darstellende Künste and by Dachverband Tanz Deutschland with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media.
Nora graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts with a Master's degree in Performing Arts (2019) and obtained a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University College Maastricht, the Netherlands, and Tecnológico de Monterrey, México, (2016). Before, whilst, and after, they studied contemporary dance (a.o. Tanzfabrik Berlin 2017). In 2022/23 Nora is a Fellow at the International Theatre Institute.www.noratormann.com
Photo by Fabrizio Farroni 2022
Elsa Mencagli (1990, Denmark/Italy) is a multimedia artist currently based in Italy. She holds a Bachelor's from the Aarhus School of Architecture (Denmark, 2016) and a Master of Fine Art in Performing Arts from the Iceland University of the Arts (Iceland, 2019). As a multimedia artist, she creates and thinks across media, from sculptural installation to video and performance. Through practices of attentive listening and attunement to both the body and the environment, her creative work takes form in the attempt to reveal and make felt what often remains unnoticed. She is interested in crafting conditions to experience diverse modes of encounter that may create shifts in perception and propose different modes of inter-relation. Her work is often situated in a specific environment, becoming with and within it.
Elsa has presented her work nationally and internationally in Italy, USA, Germany, Iceland and Portugal. Her most recent collaborations are with Paula Diogo (PT) in ”Terra Nullius”, presented at the National Theater D. Maria II in Lisbon, and with Alex Cassal (BRA) in ”A Biblioteca do Fim do Mundo”, presented at the Verão festival Azul 2021 in Loulé. She is a recipient of the Artists Development Programme 2022 of the European Investment Bank Institute with a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.www.elsamencagli.com
Íris Stefanía (1989, 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 pleasure and masturbation Iris has recently been working with the themes; of ecosexuality, orgasmic birth and women who choose a childfree lifestyle.www.irisstefania.com www.whenimasturbate.world
Ellen Lili Vanderstraeten (1995,Belgium) is a performer, creator and curator. She is fascinated by co-creative ways of making art and the multiformity of textiles. Her work departs from daily routines of care such as walking, sleeping, cooking, reading ... which she experimentally loosens from their monotonous patterns to create new sensory experiences.
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.
Currently she shares the artistic direction with Leonie Buysse of the long term research project ‘Spa for Spirits’, an experimental wellness center operated by otherworldly creatures.www.ellenvanderstraeten.com/
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 fascination with the physicality of both performer and audience. Textures, rituals and Icelandic turf houses are topics of current exploration.www.mariaarnardottir.com
Paula Diogo (1977, Portugal) is a Lisbon-based performer and stage director with an artistic background based on collaborative processes. Meandering through art-making and producing, she holds a BA in Theater from the ESTC in Lisbon and a MA in Performing Arts from the Iceland University of the Arts. She is co-founder of several collectives, such as Teatro Praga, TRUTA and O Pato Profissional. She has also worked with several artists and companies both in Portugal and abroad.
Recently, she has been consolidating Má-Criação (Bad Creation); a platform that brings together creators from different backgrounds and geographies. She is a member of the collective CELESTIAL BODIES, a project dedicated to opening up spaces that integrate practices of solidarity, care, empathy and wonder.
Paula Diogo is one of the artists supported by apap - FEMINIST FUTURES a project co-funded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union (2021-24).www.ma-criacao.com
Zofia Tomczyk (1993, Poland) is an artist connected to contemporary dance, improvisation, dreamwork and experimental music. She is currently working as a dancer at The Polish Dance Theatre in Poznan, Poland. She graduated in 2019 with an MFA in Performing Arts from the Iceland University of the Arts in Reykjavik after having finished her bachelor's studies in composition and dance techniques at Poznań School of Social Sciences in 2015. She was a student of The School of Images® by Catherine Shainberg in New York in 2019-2020.
Zofia has explored working with dreams since 2015 with guidance from Bonnie Buckner, Anna Nowicka, Anna Godowska and Sławomir Krawczyński. She is currently a postgraduate student in Process Oriented Psychology at Fundacja Instytut Psychologii Procesu in Poland and a trainee at The International Institute for Dreaming and Imagery. She has received scholarships 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.www.zofiatomczyk.com www.cichenagrania.bandcamp.com
RESONANCES - 3rd edition
Vera Stasi, Tuscania, Italy
29 August - 4 September 2022
As a travelling collective, CELESTIAL BODIES creates and reenforces a network of artists.
Our next encounter - RESONANCES - takes place in Tuscania, Italy. Artists based in northern Lazio are invited to participate in a week long sharing of practices that cover a wide range of artistic formats, questions and methods.
The encounter is hosted by Vera Stasi, an association for contemporary dance and performing arts based in Tuscania. On 3 September the artists will open the doors to the public.
CELESTIAL BODIES 2021 artist meeting was held in beautiful Lisbon. We had two full weeks of shared creative actions under the dusty pastel colored landscape. The celestial body Paula Diogo was this year’s curator together with Lígia Soares on behalf of the Lisbon-based company and artist association Má-criação. We had two wonderful partners that allowed us to access their venues and blackboxes; Centro de Experimentação Artística do Vale da Amoreira in Moita and Alkantara in Lisbon. Our Portuguese invitees were:
- Alegria Gomes (guest artist)
- Gisela Casimiro (guest artist)
- Isabel Costa (guest artist)
- Isabél Zuaa (guest artist)
- Lígia Soares (guest artist and curator)
- Maurícia Barreira Neves (guest artist)
- Rafaela Jacinto (guest artist)
- Rolaisa Embaló (guest artist)
- Vania Doutel Vaz (guest artist)
- Rama em Flor - Festival Comunitário Feminista Queer (guest project)
People behind the scenes and live savers:
- Carlos Alves (communication and executive producer)
- Vanda Cerejo (executive producer)
- João Tuna (photographer)
Together we shared practices of walking, pottery, building, collecting, dancing, connecting, exploring, slowing down, wandering, lingering, floating, sounding, speaking, reading, celebrating, touching, sculpting, listening, questioning, playing, sensing, sharing secrets and dreaming together.
The publication CELESTIAL BODIES is now finished and available, in a bilingual version (PT/EN), gathering texts of participants of this 1st Female Artists’ Meeting 2021, in partnership with Alkantara and CEA – Centro de Experimentação Artística do Vale da Amoreira-Moita.
Orders and more information via email firstname.lastname@example.org
- CURATORSHIP 2021 | Paula Diogo and Lígia Soares
- PRODUCTION | Má-Criação
- PARTNERS | Alkantara and Centro de Experimentação Artística do Vale da Amoreira/ Moita
- SUPPORT | CML - Pólo Cultural Gaivotas | Boavista
- INSTITUTIONAL PARTNER | Portuguese Republic - Ministry of Culture
- Project financed by Portuguese Republic - Culture | DGARTES - General Directorate of Arts / Support Program for Internationalization
Má-Criação is a structure supported by the Lisbon City Council and housed in Alkantara.
For five full days in the nightless summer of 2019, CELESTIAL BODIES transformed the Iceland University of the Arts (https://www.lhi.is/) into a festival landscape, enwreathed in performances, exhibitions, workshops and artist talks. It was a successful attempt to create an environment, rather than simply showcasing our individual work next to each other, where the audience was invited to hang out in the artistic salon, to have a drink in the pink mint garden, to eat, dance and breathe together.
“Aesthetically their works are seemingly worlds apart – each derived from the specifics of their own enquiries, wonder and artistic toolboxes, but principally much of what lies under the surface of their works is shared. Namely, a shared and fundamental focus on finding ways – old and new – of practicing wonder, empathy, tenderness and care towards ourselves, each other and the world around us.” - Alexander Roberts, program director MFA Performing Arts, Listaháskóli Íslands
- MFA GRADUATES AND CELESTIAL BODIES | Ellen Vanderstaeten, Elsa Mencagli, Íris Stefanía, María Arnardóttir, Nora Tormann, Paula Diogo, Zofia Tomczyk
- INSTITUTIONAL PARTNER | Iceland University of the Arts
- PROGRAM DIRECTOR MFA PERFORMING ARTS 2019 | Alexander Roberts
- PROMOTION MANAGER | Vigdís Másdóttir
- EXTERNAL PARTNER | Iðnó
- VOLUNTEERS | Inga Steinunn Henningsdóttir,
- GRAPHIC DESIGNER | Helga Dögg
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.