The work of Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere (Brussels, Belgium) departs from a shared interest in the human impact on landscapes and environments. What characterizes them is the way in which they conduct research. At the heart of their work lies a detailed field research with sound recordings of conversations and discussions, through which they shape and form their artistic projects.
Having graduated from the drama department at KASK School of Arts in Ghent in 2013, Silke Huysmans began working with Hannes Dereere who graduated from theatre studies at University Ghent in 2012. They took their first steps as an artistic duo during the final years of their studies. In their first collaborations, Silke and Hannes developed a mutual interest in using documentary elements for theatre.
In the autumn of 2015, a huge mining disaster took place a few kilometres away from Silke’s childhood home in the South of Brazil. Silke and Hannes started a research about the aftermath of the disaster which led to their first theatre performance ‘Mining Stories’. Using field recordings of conversations from their research in Brazil, the piece brings together multiple perspectives on the consequences of the disaster in a theatrical essay.
‘Mining Stories’ premièred in 2016 at the Bâtard Festival in the Beursschouwburg in Brussels and continued to travel along many theatre festivals in Europe, visiting over fourteen different countries. The piece was selected for Circuit X (Belgium) in 2017 and was awarded the main jury prize at Zürcher Theaterspektakel (Switzerland) in 2018 with the jury stating that “Huysmans and Dereere rely on an impressive yet simple staging with an honest, ethical statement with regards to eco-political topics and issues.”
The duo maintained their thematic focus on mining as they began working on ‘Pleasant Island’, their second performance for the theatre stage. The piece zooms in on the impact of large scale mining in a finite environment. For this, Silke and Hannes travelled to the Pacific island of Nauru which has been entirely stripped of its natural resources. Through testimonies and intimate recordings, the duo tries to unravel the effects of exhaustive mining. ‘Pleasant Island’ premiered in 2019 at Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, and is currently touring in Europe and abroad.
The work of Silke and Hannes is supported and produced by arts centre CAMPO in Ghent (Belgium).