Essential to the work of Ben Benaouisse (°1971, Belgium) is his attempt to grasp political, religious and cultural patterns. Before trying out the possibilities of paint and canvas, he had already made his name with experimental theatre and dance performances.
His path is an atypical one, in which he explores diverse media without any academic training. His artistic oeuvre develops around the principle of appropriation and presents a never-ending search for an attitude towards the ‘here and now’: “What can I add to everything that has already been done, as an artist? I am the dwarf on the giant.”
He tests the power of art in our times and investigates its role in our society. His conceptual interest finds a balance in the amazement and the pleasure of creation.
SELECTED EXHIBITIONS 2016
Research on “Arabo-European Mythology”, Roger Raveelmuseum, Machelen-Zulte (BE)
Best Belgian dance solo, Nominated, Alain Platel / Victoria Theater, Ghent (BE), 1994
DANCE & THEATRE EXPERIENCES In 1993 Victoria launched the Ja, wacht! youth project as part of Antwerp ’93 and at the request of the King Baudouin Foundation. Auditions were held all over Belgium. Mohamed ‘Ben’ Benaouisse (°1971) was one of the participants in Liège. He was selected and came to Ghent. In 1994, a few months after the opening night of Ja, wacht!, Ben participated in The Best Belgian Dance Solo at the first Victoria Festival. He wan the second prize. Immediately afterwards Alain Platel invited him to perform as a dancer and actor in the Victoria
production Moeder en kind (1995).
In 1996, together with Helmut Van den Meersschaut and Noël Van Kelst, he founded the dance trio Latrinité. This company started out at the second Victoria Festival as part of ‘Korstmos’, a platform for new young talent. This presentation later resulted in the performance Dansé Donsé Dan Dan. Two more productions by the same company followed: Auri Sacra Fames (1997) and Limbus Patrum (2000).
In the meantime Ben also worked as a dancer and choreographer in House of Bamboo (1997, Huis a/d Werf, Utrecht) and as an actor in Lifestyle (1998, Victoria, directed by Paul Carpentier). In 2001 he was asked to participate in Lies Pauwels’ first production, Club Astrid (Victoria), and, together with the Latrinité team, created the residence project Carte Blanche at L’aeronef in Lille. Ben surprised everyone with his moving installation/ performance Invasif. This resulted in Victoria giving him an Alexis-Dallière fund so that he could continue his in-depth research. With this fund he created the theatrical installation Het is Lam.
In 2003 he directed Mauricio Kagel’s Variété (a play for circus artists, produced by One-off) and worked as an actor and dancer in Scan, directed by Michel Schweizer (La Coma, Bordeaux). A year later he appeared in Renaud Cojo’s Dernier spectacle avant (ouverture) (2004, Ouvre Le Chien, Bordeaux).
In that same year he also founded his own company, Invasif, whose first production, the Multi Solo Provisoire dance solo (conceived and performed by Benaouisse himself), opened in the summer of 2004 (Oerol Festival, Terschelling, NL / Gentse Feesten, Ghent).
The controversial production Het is Lam, (Victoria) had its première in 2005. In this piece he linked together several diverse artistic disciplines (installation, performance, video, dance, theatre, words, music, etc.), while avoiding what is usually regarded as multidisciplinary.
In January 2006 he presented No Production in Nieuwpoorttheater. In 2007 he danced in Bolero Variations by Raimund Hoghe.
From dance & theatre to visual art and performance The installation/performance Invasif (2001, Lille) during ‘Carte Blanche’ (the Latrinité residency in Lille) was an important link in Ben’s artistic career. Here he took the first important step towards more personal work, a mixture of theatre, performance and
installation. In the years that followed he set out an artistic trajectory in which he increasingly manifested himself as a visualartist.
Invasif is a research based on Benaouisse’s personal life. He catalogues, takes stock of and structures a large collection of objects, writing, videos, photos, sounds, movements and memories in a ‘total installation’. He regards Invasif as a quest in various stages. Each stage is specifically created for and in the ‘performance location’.