Performances - Stefaan van Biesen



Performances: a space specific practice





[Son & Heir] a reconstruction of the remains of a day in 1952,

for the Flow Lines project of Deirdre McLeod, University of Edinburgh Scotland Uk june 2020.


On the photo left, taken in 1952, my father is standing in a pool of water. It is a mysterious act on a Sunday afternoon in 1952, a year before I was born. I have often wondered what was the reason for this action and I got no answers. I found it interesting to follow in my father's footsteps and reconstruct this moment as a gesture of connection, and in a certain bloodline tradition.


Or as Gustav Mahler [1880-1911] once said: "Tradition is tending the flame, not worshiping the ashes..".

[Flow Lines] In human geography, flow lines record the movement of people, such as commuters or migrants, between one place and another. In physical geography, flow lines on oceanographic maps describe how ocean waters circulate around the world.


On your own, and maintaining a self-isolating distance of at least two metres from anyone nearby, make your way to a sea, or ocean, which is near you. If you live far from the sea, make your way to a nearby stream or river. A canal is also fine, as long as it eventually joins the sea.


Take off your shoes and roll up your trousers. Stand in the sea, river or canal. Bid goodbye to the water which laps around your ankles. Wish it farewell as it flows to other countries’ shores to meet the people who may paddle there. Put your hand in the water and shake hands with all of those who are now linked to you by water, but whom you cannot visit, at the moment, by land or air.


Deirdre McLeod: the project is called 'Flow Lines' and is an artistic response, of sorts, to current circumstances. It aims to explore the more solitary conditions that we find ourselves in, and ways in which we might connect. Since the emergence of the Coronavirus, and particularly since lockdown, we have moved differently within public space. Time outside has become precious and, often, solitary and we are still unable to visit, and be physically close to, those with whom we do not live.


At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of urban public space to individuals and communities. I’m creating a set of six mini-performance pieces for individuals to do on their own. Each piece is based on gestures that I’ve observed people making or doing over the past few months here in Edinburgh.


The performance involves standing (safely) in flowing water. I'm keen to involve artists across the UK and internationally in this project.







LISTEN Festival, a summer of sound art, Frome (UK) Sound Walk Sunday 01.09.2019.


Stefaan van Biesen and Annemie Mestdagh are doing a Wander Weed session [Plant(e)scape Made of Walking IV Akamas Cyprus 2018, The Walking Body Minho University Guimaraes Portugal 2019], in Beveren Belgium. People are invited to a performative walk that is a mix of a lecture, a conversation and an exercise. The theme of this event is our relationship with plants and plant intelligence.






A portable nomadic Library of Walks:



[Library of Walks] [What] The Body Knows / The Bleu Parade] Made of Walking (V) Prespes Greece 2019.


Walking encounters/conference in Prespes Greece, July 1-7 2019.

Department of Fine and Applied Arts of the University of Western Macedonia.




Video: this performative walk '(What) The Body Knows / The Blue Parade'' in the village of Psarades at Prespes is part of the Library of Walks that has been started by Stefaan van Biesen since 1990. From this ongoing process various applications grew, realized in Europe and Brasilia in collaboration with curator-writer Geert Vermeire. For Made Of Walking (V) in Prespes 2019, Stefaan van Biesen & Annemie Mestdagh, designed a portable nomadic library that is carried by a group of participants:


Walkers of the group: Yannis Ziogas, Natacha Antão Moutinho, Miguel Bandeira Duarte, Rosie Montford, Anna Villas Boas, Geert Vermeire, Chistopher Kaczmar, Marie-Anne Lerjen, Kristina Borg, Katerina Paisi, Juana Miranda, Raffaella Zammit, Lucia Masu, Emanuelle Klafiger, Ienke Kastelein, Caterina Giansiracusa.

People carrying a portable library. The slightly meandering, streamlined shape of the ultramarine blue canvas, (in ancient Greece there was no name for the colour 'blue') *1.), refers to the nearby Little Prespa lake. Also a link to the fate of refugees. While observing, participants are asked to collect items they notice on their way in the environment nearby, small significant artifacts. The pieces can be put in pet bottles (or later in glass jars), which are attached to the blue canvas. This gives the walk a ritual dimension in which a collection is created that is representative of the biotope where the action takes place. This way the natural and social identity of a place is archived, documented.


Being together in silence, carried away by a human energetic stream, walking as a sensitive experience, must lead to a collective act that sensitively reinforces the walk.





The project of Made of Walking (V) on Kozani TV.




























U N F O L D I N G M E M O R I E S [ 2 0 1 8 ] .

Venice 2018.





C O N V E R S A T I O N P I E C E [ 2 0 1 8 ] .

Venice 2018.









Walking is an instrument for knowledge and experience in the work of Stefaan van Biesen. Concepts such as silence / time / body / mind, influenced by Oriental approaches, are situating themselves  within a Western way of thinking. Just like Joseph Beuys the artist wants to connect Asian intuition and spirituality with European realism and rationality, in the way that Beuys no longer regarded the 'Eurasian man' being focused on itself but on humanity and culture.


Stefaan van Biesen invites you to for a silent walk / performance: 'Meander', where concepts such as 'connecting / letting go / leading / trust / taking care of ' are the underlying ideas. In this constellation of influences, (of feeling and being involved), you become, as the co-walker, the work of art!









A silent man who whispers the world. A gesture of tenderness, involvement, connection and also a discourse made visible. An image of a caring hand, a standing man, a projection of desire, words that are whispered in the hope that they will expand in time and space. Also the question to be a listening ear. It may seem like a noble but absurd and senseless act, something that won't lead to no results. But nothing is less true: the whisperer, the silent standing man becomes an image of a silent inner knowing. A question how our actions determine and shape our environment and socio-cultural biotope? What is the effect and what are the consequences of our 'Being'?


Whispering like a force, a deeply human gesture. Silence as a loud demand for togetherness, caring, as an ecological, socially humane instrument.

















Walking talking performance/workshop. Made of Walking La Romieu France.







Stefaan van Biesen. 'Enter the Triangle'. 27.08 > 30.08.2017. A silent meditative walk/performance for 3 walkers, during Made of Walking La Romieu 2017. With Annelies Vantyghem (Belgium), Niran Baibulat (Finland), Rosario Forjaz (Portugal), Andrew Stuck (UK), Mel Sutton (UK), Ivana Pinna (Italy/Spain), Guendouz Nawal (Algeria/france), Carol Mancke (USA), Phillip Mckenzie (UK), Leo Kay (Belgium/UK), Pam Patterson (Canada), Leena Raudvee (Canada), Ruth Roadbent (UK).






One tone performance [a tribute to Pythagoras last words]. Made of Walking Summerschool Delphi Greece.


Consonance and dissonance. Pythagoras conceived the universe to be an immense monochord. Instruments derived from the monochord (or its moveable bridge) include the guqin, dan bau, koto, vina, hurdy-gurdy, and clavichord ("hence all keyboard instruments"). Harmony is a state recognized by great philosophers as the immediate prerequisite of beauty. A compound is termed beautiful only when its parts are in harmonious combination. The world is called beautiful and its Creator is designated the Good because good perforce must act in conformity with its own nature; and good acting according to its own nature is harmony, because the good which it accomplishes is harmonious with the good which it is. Beauty, therefore, is harmony manifesting its own intrinsic nature in the world of form.


A monochord, also known as sonometer, is an ancient musical and scientific laboratory instrument, involving one (mono) string (chord). The term monochord is sometimes used as the class-name for any musical stringed instrument having only one string and a stick shaped body, also known as musical bows. According to the Hornbostel–Sachs system, string bows are bar zithers while monochords are traditionally board zithers. The 'harmonical canon', or monochord is, at its least, "merely a string having a board under it of exactly the same length, upon which may be delineated the points at which the string must be stopped to give certain notes," allowing comparison.

A string is fixed at both ends and stretched over a sound box. One or more movable bridges are then manipulated to demonstrate mathematical relationships among the frequencies produced. "With its single string, movable bridge and graduated rule, the monochord (kanōn [Greek: law]) straddled the gap between notes and numbers, intervals and ratios, sense-perception and mathematical reason." However, "music, mathematics, and astronomy were [also] inexorably linked in the monochord."







Performance/workshop with 3 walkers and dancers. Made of Walking Summerschool Delphi Greece.


The Enter the Triangle performance [Silent Movements] is a gentle walking performance where three participants are required to listen to each other's body and the movements they make towards their own body. It is based on how to relate to another one's ways of moving or physical dialect: so to become aware of the other(s). At the same time to be aware of the urban environment and the fact that although you are connected, there is always a feeling of disconnection between you and the others. Being able to touch and still being in the distance. It can be seen as a mental exercise to trust the other(s). To follow the other moving bodies while moving in space and to become a moving shape of consciousness. A flow, a living human sculpture, constantly changing shape of a triangle by interactions.

Enter the Triangle. Interactive performance for 3 walkers and dancers during Made of Walking Delphi 2017. Concept and video: Stefaan van Biesen/the Milena principle. Attribute made by Annemie Mestdagh /the Milena principle. Performers: Lina Efstathiou (Greece), Eleni Nakou (Greece), Julia Redei (UK/Germany), Penny Finiri (Cyprus), Leand Kalaja (Albania), Panagiotis Lezes (Greece), Aliki Arnaouti (Greece), Ioanna Thanou (Greece), Chara Tzoka (Greece), Marianna Makri (Greece), Vermeire Geert (Belgium) and Haris Pellapaisiotis (Cyprus).





Performance with soundcomposition Hythlodaeus video. [Opdonder4] Mercatormusuem Sint-Niklaas Belgium.







(reprise) Tribute to Pieter Breugel [1525-1569] Public walk project 'Happen & Stappen' Melsele Belgium.

















































































Whisper performance [How Long Is Now?] Museu Nogeuira da Silva, Minho University Braga Portugal.


























































































































©stefaan van biesen-annemie mestdagh 09.01.2022