Choreographer Matthias Sperling’s solo performance attempts to intervene in the history of a German Expressionist art object by dancing at it.

While seemingly absurd, the attempt is also a genuine one: Sperling engages with the object as having experienced a traumatic past, with particular reference to the Nazi’s labelling of German Expressionist works as degenerate in 1937. His striving to effect a positive historical change through his movement becomes a way of questioning the apparent contrast between the ephemerality of action and the fixity of objects, and asking how our action in relation to artworks contributes to creating their identities.

Created and performed by Matthias Sperling

A New Walk Museum & Art Gallery commission, undertaken with support from Siobhan Davies Dance and Dance4

Volunteers: Claire Brown, Kirstin Hood, Rhian Comley, Jessica Walker

Sound recordist: Martin Clarke

Film produced by BigPlus Productions Ltd

Performed at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester, UK on October 2, 2014

© Matthias Sperling 2014


Matthias Sperling is a choreographer and performer living and working in London, UK.

His works include performances in theatre, gallery and museum contexts, video works, and exchanges that take place in public spaces and online.

His work has been presented at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Southbank Centre, Royal Opera House, Dance Umbrella, Nottdance and Springdance (NL), among others.

He is a frequent collaborator with Siobhan Davies, together with whom he has created and presented works at galleries including the ICA, Whitechapel, Hayward, Tramway and Turner Contemporary.

He has created an adaptation of a solo choreographic score by Deborah Hay, which he co-commissioned through Hays Solo Performance Commissioning Project 2012.

He has collaborated with visual artists including Pablo Bronstein, Carlos Motta and Hetain Patel, and composers including Scanner and George Benjamin.

He has taught extensively, both in the UK and internationally.

Born in Toronto in 1974, he studied with the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (1984-1993) and went on to study philosophy at university in Canada before coming to the UK to complete his dance studies with Transitions Dance Company at Laban (1997-1998).

He danced with UK companies including Wayne McGregors Random Dance (2001-2006) and Matthew Bournes Adventures In Motion Pictures (1999-2000), before pursuing his own choreographic work.

He was an Associate Artist with Dance4 (2007-2015) and is the winner of a Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award (2008).