Jorge León & Simone Aughterlony Brussels / Zurich

To Serve

Between 1999 and 2004 Simone Aughterlony (1977, New Zealand) performed in Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods productions. Together with the company she moved to Zürich, where she worked as an actress and a choreographer. Simone's work seeks to investigate the relationship between lived experience and the communication of this experience through different modes of (re) presentation. Often the exploration leads to a rigorous form of cataloguing whereby the performers make inexhaustible attempts to understand or test the limits of both their thought and movement systems. Her work focuses particularly on the more comical or tragic aspects of experience and seeks to open up layers of authenticity as the performers forge the content and concepts of the work into the shared space.Together with film artist Jorge León she created an ambitious project on the phenomenon of the maid: To serve.  

Jorge and Simone initially began working together in the context of the Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods project Highway 101 in which they collaborated respectively as video artist and performer. In To Serve Jorge and Simone will collaborate to integrate and stage the raw material of documented experience with a more performative material stemming from their research into the archetypical representation of the domestic. They will question the mechanisms that are at play in the act of serving and being served and consider the inherent theatrical dimension that the power relationship contains. 

To Serve is a piece in three parts. # 1: House without a Maid (an installation), # 2: Deserve (a performance) and # 3: Vous êtes servis (a  film). To Serve is shaped and presented in different venues according to the nature of the work proposed by various artists. As well as being an essential part of the bourgeois household in recent history the maid has continued to feed the imagery and fascination of our conscience, finding expression through the myriad of diverse representations in cinema, literature and theatre. One feminist revolution later, Simone and Jorge would like to excavate the remains by asking: Even though the status of the maid has evolved (they seldom live in the homes of their employers) what are the layers that lie behind that symbol of servitude and how are they re-enacted in our power relations today?  

#1 House without a Maid: For the maid, the house represents both her workspace and a home, albeit, a home that doesn't provide a private sphere. In this module, to serve will inhabit a private home and open it to the public gaze.  In House without a Maid the artist's approach will be to transform familiar domestic objects and give them a (still) life or explore and reflect on the imagery and mysteries contained in single rooms such as the library, attic, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom etc. 

#2 Deserve: From the reality of human experience that finds a place in documentary work through to the staging of fictionalized theatre, To Serve proposes a piece that addresses our perceptions of servitude and domination and how those are constructed. In co-directing this theatrical work entitled Deserve, Jorge and Simone integrate their strengths and artistic methods to transform the documentary material into performance material and as such endeavour to give the maid a voice. 

#3 Vous êtes servis: The film that Jorge is working on grows out of encounters with women who have been in contact in one way or another with situations linked to servitude. Their experiences nourish the film. The film will be a collage of filmed experiences and interviews. It will also question the notions of domination and servitude and the need for material order and tidiness in contrast to mental disorder.

NXTSTP partners: Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), De Internationale Keuze van de Rotterdamse Schouwburg (Rotterdam), Alkantara Festival (Lisbon)