Movement is Downfall

Peter Vadim


When the abject becomes beautiful, the dominant loses power. But what comes instead? I investigate aesthetics of relations between the abject and the dominant.

From ‘The Animal Empire – you are not invited’ at Ubåden, Bådteatret 2019. Photo by Sebastian Neerup Mandel

Most of my life I have felt wrong in relation to heteronormativity, which is the dominant norm in the vast majority of public space, institutions, schools and workplaces that I have met. I feel I have to suppress sides of myself that are labelled as feminine in order not to be rejected by heteronormativity. Self hatred has emerged. And the need for disidentification is urgent.

In relation to heteronormativity I investigate how the aesthetics of abjection can help promote disidentification of suppressed elements: When the abject becomes beautiful, the dominant norm loses power. But what comes instead?

In my own disidentification process I have to make space for the downfall of the character I have built up in order to survive heteronormativity. To let go in such a way is scary on one hand, because it makes me vulnerable and fragile. It is filled with doubt. I get insecure, because I do not know what comes instead. I don’t really know myself. On the other hand it is a gift, because I step out of what I know about myself, or what I think I know about myself, and experience the world in new ways.

To me this is the beauty of downfall. It makes space. And the downfall of my abject self claims the downfall of heteronormativity. It takes away the suppressing power of heteronormativity and gives me back the control of my own body.

I am then free to embody places, situations, landscapes with my new body and give them new meaning.

But the dominance of heteronormativity feeds my self hatred. Thus my investigations are continuing.

I document the investigations through choreography, mapping, film and model building. In doing so, I combine choreography and landscape architecture.

I am a dancer and choreographer from The Danish National School of Performing Arts and has since 1994 worked freelance in several productions in Denmark and abroad.

From 2001-07 I was active in the performance group of the gender political association dunst. In 2018 I wrote the article dunst 2001-07 Aesthetics of Abjection published in Peripeti, a magazine for dramaturgical studies.

In 2014 I became a landscape architect (cand.hort.arch) specialising in relations between movement, space and time.

Since 2015 I have worked as arts- and architectural educator. In 2019 I was coauthor of the articles It’s all about art and A Microtopia of Arts Education.

I got funding and support from Sportgoodsfoundation, Dansk Artist Forbund, Bådteatret, Ubåden, University of Copenhagen, Lauritzen Foundation, Københavns Kommunes Kulturfond, Spirefestival, Warehouse9, Augustinusfonden, Danish Cultural Institute, Danish Ministry of Culture – summer activities, University of Cape Town.