Playful musings on roles
Swiss Performing Arts Award 2021
fleischlin/meser are Beatrice Fleischlin (born 1971 in rural Sempach, Lucerne) and Anja Meser (born 1980 in Berlin). Beatrice Fleischlin studied at the Theatre and Acting Academy in Zurich (now part of the Zurich University of the Arts) and continued her training at the Tanzfabrik in Berlin, where she met Anja Meser. Anja Meser lives in Berlin and is a freelance dancer, choreographer and performer. For more than a decade, the duo have combined research into political and social topics with fragments from the pop business to create events that move beyond the stage. Alongside their ongoing collaborations, they are involved in a wide array of projects instigated by other culture practitioners, such as Thom Luz, Boris Nikitin, Antje Schupp and Kiriakos Hadjiioannou. After finishing her training, Beatrice Fleischlin was part of a trio that called itself “Gaststube”; recently reactivated, it works at the intersection of staging, installation and interaction.
Since 2009, fleischlin/meser’s work has addressed issues of gender and identity. They combine biographical material with elements of pop as well as research into movement and language, to create performances that are both unsettling and entertaining. In “COME ON BABY” (2011), for example, they set out to break the codes by means of which a man presents himself in everyday life. “THIS IS ME*”, subtitled “a two-solo evening” (2019), is a feminist piece that tackles the current gender debate. “What is Human” (2020) is conceived as a space for thinking and a feast at which to reflect on ideas of the family. Performances at other venues have included “Sweetheart” (2012) – a kind of 1960s revue – on an escalator in the Europacenter in Berlin, and “do you feel real” (2013) in the window of the Manor department store in Zurich.
Beatrice Fleischlin and Anja Meser’s work shifts boundaries and displaces norms to create space in which desire, reflectiveness or awareness can take place. How do we want to live together? Constrained or free? Need you ask? In fleischlin/meser’s open spaces we sense an enthusiasm for the diversity of life. Their works are acutely analytical and gaudily colourful; they are flashy and then surprise us with moments of great intimacy. Their approach to issues of gender, identity and role models is life-affirming and never condescending. They unmask the seemingly normal as a construct with playful ease, and call on us to keep space free for what is truly normal: diversity and tolerance.
Barbara Anderhub, jury member