Beyond the Dirt, in 5 Selfies

Beyond the dirt, in 5 selfies is a performance installation through which we want to address the exploitation of the sea in this ‘Ocean Decade’. In a guided tour along 4 set-ups in a large space, we explore how to grasp this complex subject and translate it into imagination. But how do you arouse interest in something that is invisible and intangible, yet has direct connections to our country AND planetary implications? Because when the invisible intervenes, it is high time to depict the unthinkable and show imagination that resonates with the citizens.

Multi-voiced chronicle

The performance takes place within an installation, with video, audio, objects and documents. It is a multi-voiced chronicle where each voice interprets a different perspective in the debate on deep-sea mining. The installation offers factual information but also takes a closer look at the narrative of the industry. In addition, indigenous artists and hydro-feminists give their views on the exploitation of the planet's resources. Through sensory memory, among others, we try to give voice to the ocean and non-humans. There are also some points of interaction with the audience. The performance lasts about 45’.


As a floor plan for the performance, we use a ‘selfie’ manoeuvre designed by engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the Belgian company GSR. During this manoeuvre, an excavator on the ocean floor drives through the cloud of sediment it creates itself. In this way, the industry records and analyses the damage it causes itself in the deep sea.

Click for high res

Using the selfie motif, we open conflicting perspectives, but also examine our own practice and test how/or visitors absorb and digest our performance. This essay condenses matter : does it work ? And if not, what do we do ? That reflection is integral to our research.

Significant oracles predict scarcity of metals for the advancement of the human species. A handful of pioneers see opportunities; they want to harvest the indispensable metals in the deep sea. In doing so, they proceed responsibly and control themselves, themselves.

The first tryout of our performance, Beyond the Dirt, in 5 Selfies took place on 13/4 at the White Attic of De Markten, Brussels.

Short video tryout Beyond the Dirt, in 5 Selfies

Concept, text and performance: Raf Custers, Greet Brauwers Dramaturgical advice: Kris Verdonck, Christel Simons Sound design: Gillis Van Der Wee, Ioana Mandrescu Lighting design: Caroline Mathieu Video projection: Jazie Custers Ceramic sculptures: Lot Lemm Steel ring, branding object: Recyclart Wooden timeline object: Jeronimo Ponce Video performance: Kadanja Support for residency: GC DeMarkten With the support of: the Flemish Government, the National Lottery, VGC


Photo by Raf Custers - Click for high res