About

Eszter Salamon is a choreographer, artist and performer.
She lives and works between Berlin, Paris, and Budapest. She is currently doing her artistic Ph.D. at the National Academy of the Arts, KHiO, in Oslo. She is the laureate of the Evens Art Prize 2019 and winner of La vie bonne call for projects by the National Center for Plastic Arts (FR) and Aware: Archive of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions, in 2020.

Salamon uses choreography as an activating and organizing agency between various media such as image, sound, music, text, voice, bodily movement and actions. Her works evolve through various formats and aesthetics, methodologies and poetics, and put to work a wide spectrum of expressions.

The works are often based on thorough research on particular issues such as female autobiography, non-human subjectivities, and hidden power structures sustaining the hierarchical systems of artistic and educational economies of productions. She conceives of choreography as a means to reflect on the value of knowledge, gestures and images. By exploring how bodies are vectors of the circulation and transformation of meaning, sheinvests in creating trans-national and trans-historical narrations. Traditional and contemporary codes, standardization of bodies and the imaginary, as well as ways of producing knowledge are critically approached in her artistic practice.Her work is characterised by playing with the indiscernible zones between the documentary and the fictional to give a different perspective on what can be perceived as reality. By increasing performers’ agency, she creates ecologies where their subjectivities become affirmative perspectives.

Since 2001 she has created solos and larger scale works that have been presented in performing arts venues and museums internationally, including Centre Pompidou (FR), Centre Pompidou Metz (FR), Festival d’Automne (FR), Avignon Festival (FR), Ruhrtriennale (DE), Holland Festival (NL), The Kitchen New York (USA), The Place London (UK), HAU Hebbel-am-Ufer Berlin (DE), Berlin Documentary Forum (DE), PACT Zollverein (D), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (BE), Kaaitheater (BE), Tanzquartier Wien (AT), Kampnagel Hamburg (DE), Steirischer Herbst (AT), Manchester International Festival (UK), Holland Festival (NL), Nanterre-Amandiers (FR), FTA Montreal (CA), Dance Triennale Tokyo (JP), TheatreWorks Singapore (SG), Panorama Festival Rio de Janeiro (BR), Movimiento Sur Valparaiso (CL).

She is frequently invited to present her work in museums, including MoMA (USA), Kunstinstituut Melly (formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art) (NL), Fondation Cartier (FR), Serralves Foundation (PT), Museum der Moderne Salzburg (AT), Akademie der Künste Berlin (DE), Villa Empain - Boghossian Foundation (BE), ING Art Center (BE), KINDL (DE), mumok (AT). Her exhibition Eszter Salamon 1949 was presented in 2014 at Jeu de Paume (F) as part of Satellite curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez.

Eszter Salamon often develops her works in close collaboration with artists, composers, dramaturges such as Boglàrka Börcsök, Bojana Cvejić, Cédric Dambrain, Sylvie Garot, Arantxa Martinez, Christine De Smedt, Terre Thaemlitz, Minze Tummescheit, Ana Vujanović and Christophe Wavelet.



Overview of the works

Salamon’s first works aimed at deconstructing the essentialist gazeand finding alternatives to dominant narratives in relation to the representation of female bodies and their actions on stage. The activation of cognitive experience called into question visual perception, kinesthesia, sensation and concepts of identity through ‘staging of sensation’ and the ‘performativity of gender’.

By breaking away from the mute dancing body, in 2005 her work took a significant turn by expanding choreography to include voice and narration. Her artistic interest turned towards documentary and female autobiography inspiring a multitude of works and formats: a lecture performance in Magyar Táncok (2005) focusing on her own biographical and choreographic past presented in collaboration with Hungarian folk dance and music specialists, and several works exploring homonymy such as in a film-choreography AND THEN (2007), and in the solo work Melodrama (2012), portraying the life of one Eszter Salamon, and the exhibition work Eszter Salamon 1949 (2014).

Another field of investigation in Salamon’swork is the relationship between voice, language and movement. The use of voice becomes inextricable in the dance conference Dance for Nothing (2010), where performing John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing (1949) and simultaneously dancing a choreography of indeterminacy allows music and dance to be produced by the same body. Her exploration of speculation and fiction gave rise to TALES OF THE BODILESS (2011), a fiction-without-science, a sort of futurist opera without performers, which imagined possible modes of existence after the extinction of humans. This immersive ‘theatrical installation’ marked a turn from visual perception to the acoustic space and sonic world of dystopian fictions to be performed for and by the spectators.


The Monument series

Since 2014, Eszter Salamon has been working on a series of works re-thinking the monument and exploring ways of re-hallucinating history without the promise of teleology. In these works, memory is created to counter fantasies of identity, authenticity, and origin. These monuments are embodied, performative, and temporal. They are conceived as processes of emancipation from positivist conceptions of history and to protect against amnesia. They are thought of as anti-monuments, always numbered below the threshold of 1. The monuments are occasions that resist oblivion and exclusion and have the potential to transform and repair as they invest in the act of creating memory, which is their capacity to build narratives through performative archives of poetic documents. When celebrating forgotten artists, aging bodies, rhythms, and the gestures of oppressed cultures, these monuments compose fragments and transform traces into new meanings without fixing them as relics.

MONUMENT 0: Haunted by wars (1913 – 2013), is the first part of a series reflecting on the relationship between choreography and history. It looks at the past 100 years as a history of wars with the First world's manifold implications in the wars happening elsewhere. The performance creates a link between them and ancient war dances as well as popular dances of resistance that originated from four continents. The territories – which are the contexts where the dances performed on stage by six dancers are transformed from – are those that have been attacked, invaded, violated, or occupied during the armed conflicts. This ‘dance macabre’ brings about an impressively somber yet stirring scenario bringing to light a different world with dance history revealing the repressed and historical unconscious of both Western History and the history of modern dance.

MONUMENT 0.1: Valda and Gus (2015) centers around the life and career, as well as the experience of aging of two exceptional New York-based performers, Valda Setterfield and Gus Solomons Jr. MONUMENT 0.3: The Valeska Gert Museum (2017) and MONUMENT 0.5: The Valeska Gert Monument (2017) both create a transhistorical fictional dialogue through transforming traces of Jewish-German avant-garde artist Valeska Gert’s life and work. In a six-hour performative exhibition MONUMENT 0.4: Lores & Praxes (rituals of transformation) (2017), a group of performers develops new rituals by transforming ancient and contemporary war dances and dances of resistance. Like several of Eszter Salamon’s works, MONUMENT 0.7: M/OTHERS, a duet between the artist and her mother presented in museums, embraces female subjectivities, feminist genealogies, and multi-generational relationships. By bringing together traces of Sicilian musical archives and choreographed sensations inspired by the mummification rituals of the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, MONUMENT 0.6: HETEROCHRONY (2019) imagines a continuum between life and death,  inventing its own utopian body: a dancing and acoustic body. MONUMENT 0.8: Manifestations (2019) imagines an emancipatory space in the form of a visual, choreographic, and vocal collage that interweaves traces of vocal traditions and feminist perspectives in empathy with artistic gestures and feminist resistance in Romania.


Recent works

As a new chapter in her fictional dialogue with Valeska Gert’s life and work, Eszter Salamon creates her first short film Reappearance. Shot against the backdrop of the Museum Susch, in Switzerland, this cinematic speculation on history and archives isthe first of a trilogy of films.

Following her seminal group performance Reproduction (2004) that explored power and desire through bodies’ continuous reconfiguration, Replay (2021) explores voice, touch, and the skin as a place of sensing, vibrating, and relating, to imagine a new ‘treatise of pleasure’. In a sensorial landscape, organic and inorganic bodies, material, and immaterial intensities coexist to form a polyphonic world.