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I Will Not Bury My Romantic Soul is a performance and installation by (Ellen) Lili Vanderstraeten created in Reykjavik (IS) based on the legacy of Brazilian artist Lygia Clark. 

“ I expierence my body often as num, alien to itself and hyper sensitive. 

I believe bodies carry certain burdens with them. 

One year ago I stumbled upon a video on youtube called ‘Memoria do corpo’ 

by the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark. 

After this encounter I started a journey, guided by Lygia, of collecting objects and applying them to peoples bodies. In silence, repetitively and over a specific period of time. 

In these sessions I practice sensible listening to the other and open up for spaces where new pulsations and sensations can arise, in the hope that some of our burdens can be lightened. 

The performance is the result of my desire to open up my research 

in a collective experience. ”

19 - 22 July '19, Performance at Celestial Bodies, Reykjavik (IS) 

22 July '19, Artist Talk at Celestial Bodies, Reykjavik (IS)

Concept & performance by (Ellen) Lili Vanderstraeten


Performers Zofia Blanka Tomczyk, Michelle Saenz Bu & Inga Steinunn Henningsdóttir


Mentorship by​ Alexander Roberts, Steinunn Ketilsdóttir & Satu Herrala

Thanks to the artistic advice of Michikazu Matsune​​​​, Kate McIntosh, Florencia Orlandino, Ian Sinclair, Loren Rubicana, Haraldur Jónsson & Eva Rún Snorradóttir​


Special thanks to María Arnardóttir, Elsa Mencagli & Yann Leguay


Collaboration on costumes by Tanja Huld Levý Guðmundsdóttir​

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Review of I Will Not Bury My Romantic Soul 

by Asgerdur G. Gunnarsdottir (Artistic Director Reykjavik Dance Festival) 

& Haraldur Jonsson (Visual Artist)

In the work, I Will Not Bury My Romantic Soul, Ellen constructs an immersive environment made of objects and volumes of various nature. Pedestals on different levels on both sides of the installation form a gate and function as seats for the audience. As they pose their bodies on one of the pedestals they immediately become part of this world of objects where the animate and the inanimate have an equal status. The word audience is perhaps not the right word for their role in this performance, but they function rather as witnesses to a course of re ned actions which gradually acquire an aura of an initiation, a ceremony, a ritual rich with subtle, visceral associations and cryptic connections. We are here to witness with her. At the same time we as an audience are here as active participants who Ellen invites to take part in and be a part of her personal world as we make a silent pact with her. 

As Ellen starts to activate the installation it gradually becomes clear that this is an experiment and an endeavor to make sense of our own bodies and their relationship to phenomena in the world. It is a desire and a longing to open up her research as a collective experience where no apparent narrative takes place but rather a constellation of interwoven relationships between objects, fragile bodies, emotive states and fragmented movements in a space as an open wound.

Her stage is carefully composed and every object has its proper place. It fluctuates between a store vitrine, a wunderkammer and an obsessively installed apartment. In the front lies a body, dressed in black, just like Ellen herself. Throughout the performance she communicates with this inert body in various ways and uses the objects to create sensations for the other body. All the while we witness how a sensation can travel through watching. The artist not only uses objects to create sensorial experiences for the body on the floor, but also her own body. At times the two bodies mirror each other in strange and challenging ways.


Ellen manages to create a weird and unknown world – which puts the spectator in a demanding liminal place, a situation which is quite unique in a performative setting these days.

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