Katja Hilevaara

The Little Prince

Summer 2016

A research project by The Chekhov Collective and New Pathways, directed by Cass Fleming, with Thomas Bostock, Sian Clarke, Alistair Foylan,  Joshua MacLellan, Roanna Mitchell, Phobe Naughton

A story about love and loss.
A story about the extraordinary and funny business of being an adult.
Above all, a story about hope. 

This surprisingly queer and delicately physical re-telling interweaves material from Saint Exupery’s well-loved novella The Little Prince with his writings on travel and war, and takes inspiration from the life of pilot Amelia Earhart. 






Photos: Katerina Kotti 

Rigorous folding: act remember act write again

 With Emily Orley

28-29 April 2016, The Hague

For the SAR International Conference on Artistic Research, we presented an action (folding), remembered it through gesture, word and thought in order to reflect on it rigorously and then return to acting it once again. We set off a series of circular transformations which articulated our own concerns as practitioner-researchers, where we seek to celebrate the intangible nature of our work while also framing, remembering and critically reflecting upon it. The circular nature of our experiment, we hope, broke down the unhelpful but still prevalent dichotomies that exist within the Academy today separating embodiment and intuition from intellectual practices.


Maintain, Manu Tenere, Hold in the Hand

With Emily Orley

September 2015

I am an artist. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mother. (Random order.) Maintenance is a drag; it takes all the fucking time (lit.) [Ukeles, 1969]

A performance at the Congruence and Contestation: Contemporary Feminism and Performance conference at Roehampton University organised by Sarah Gorman inspired by and in homage to Mierle Laderman Ukeles and her 1969 Manifesto for Maintenance Art. Ukeles asserts that the artist is also an activist, empowering people to act and change social values and norms.  In her manifesto she challenges the privileged and gendered notion of the independent artist and questions the often overlooked hierarchies of different forms of work, particularly housework and low-wage labour. She suggests that the ongoing mundane activities that can take up large parts of our daily lives, often in the service of others, can be seen as art and should be celebrated as such. It is possible to be a mother and artist at the same time. For one hour we sorted, folded and stacked a mountain of clean laundry while listening to and reading the testimonies of 30 people about the housework that they (don't always) do.


Ivory Towers 2015

With Emily Orley

June 2015



This was a durational performance that took place at the Peopling the Palace(s) arts festival at Queen Mary University, London, on Friday June 5th. We paid homage to the feminist artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles and her 1969 Maintenance Art Manifesto with a mountain of tea towels. We folded, unfolded and folded again, creating a series of towers that emerged and collapsed over and over again.     



Memory Response: Take One


Memory response is a set of rules which aim to foster and draw attention to the creativity inherent in remembering. By remembering a moment in a performance that delights me, I then linger with the memory and create a response in the form of a performance act, as well as map out the tangential processes that lead to and from it. This is a project that was first configured for my practice-led PhD, for which I produced five memory responses. I also write about memory response in the forthcoming Experiencing Live: Liveness, Eventness, Nowness in the Arts, edited by Mathew Reason and Anja Lindelof, Routledge (2016).

The Archangel Gabriel's Flight Training (2013)


This performance was an act of balancing horizontally and it took place in a playground in Acton Park. In my performed response I wanted to experiment with how to be horizontal, inspired by the awkward aerial balancing of the clumsy angel in Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s The Annunciation (2010). I was going to repeat the action of the angel, who was asked to stretch her arms and legs level with the centre of her body and the ceiling, whilst suspended in harness. I wanted to honour the moment of balancing in the air, of becoming angel, to test out the feeling of laughter, to see how difficult it is, to remind myself of that lack of control.


House of Cards (2014)

House of Cards was an act of playing a game of cards in which a three-floor edifice is built balancing cards on top of each other. In my performed response I wanted to explore the pleasure I took in the stops and starts structure of Third Angel’s Presumption (2006), and the making visible of building the set piece by piece. I figured that the game-like theatrical structure of going back to the beginning evident in Presumption could be replicated with following rules of a real game. Each time a card fell down, or parts of the structure collapsed, I started from the beginning.

 My Hotel (2013)

This performance was the act of taking photographs and writing of objects that do not strictly belong to me. In response to ‘stolen’ black shoes, and the dubious delight I took in Sophie Calle’s clandestine activities in the hotel rooms in the artist’s piece Hotel (1981), I set out to explore my own shady character. I wanted to display objects in my possession that were in any way suspect to my owning them.


Icebreaker (2013)

Icebreaker was an act of defiance performed on the ice off the coast of Helsinki. In this performed response I wanted to play with the delight and anticipation I had experienced in Cildo Meireles’s Through (1983-9/2008) whilst walking across a bed of broken glass. The sea around the coast of Finland freezes over during the winter months making it possible to use for transport between the islands of the archipelago. However, there is always some precariousness as to the strength of the ice, especially at the beginning and the end of the winter, and it can always be dangerous. To jump on the ice was a way for me to translate the delight in the kind of danger walking on the shards of glass that Through produced.


Fumble (2014)

Fumble was a repeated act of reaching for the light switch. In this performed response I was interested in imitating the slow motion hand trying to reach out for the other performer’s hand in Ivana Muller's Playing Ensemble Again and Again (2008). Translating the remembered moment into a domestic act attempted to pay homage to the awkwardness of fumbling and being seen to be doing so. 










Making Making Matter

With Emily Orley

March & April 2013 & January 2015

A series of performances and performance-lectures with Emily Orley which address the question of how to make the matter of making matter, so that it matters to you as much as to me. So that it matters to the Academy. So that what is made ( matter), even if it is unmade, matters as research.

When we first performed, at the 3rd International Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts at the Helsinki Theatre Academy,  we drew on the fact that the building used to be a soap factory (Kokos Oy). We scrubbed our hands, arms and faces with soap until the bar of soap disintegrated, making ourselves clean but leaving us with nothing more to show for it. We experimented with the making of a dialogue (with words, with paper, with clean hands), while dissolving matter (soap). In later versions of the performances (most recently at the Performing Dialectics symposium at Queen Mary University, January 15) we have explored the materiality of the paper we read and write on, examining how it is made, and in doing so questioning the hegemony of textualism and the pressure we are all under in the Academy to produce evermore outputs. 



With Emily Orley

May 2011

Part of Gaps in Memory: Pop-up Performance

Studio T, Utrecht,The Netherlands


Photos: Julio Velasco

A performance installation with Emily Orley involving 7 buckets and 7 pyramids of sand. 

Part of a Shift at PSi#17, Camillo 2.0, Utrecht, directed by P.A. Skantze and Matthew Fink of Four Second Decay.


What Happened To The Tyrant

April 2010

 With Cafila Aeterna

Camden People's Theatre, London

Photo: Scott Robinson



“this world, as it is, is unbearable. that’s why I need the moon.” Caligula

Combining story-telling and clown with a detailed physical vocabulary, what happened to the tyrant takes its audience on a promenade in a museum where the tyrant is carefully preserved… against his better judgement. Live tyrants are trapped here in this archive; moments of becoming-tyrant are pinned up like butterflies; tales of tyrannizing are put on display like relics from lands afar and days bygone.
So what happened to the tyrant—these tyrants? How did they each end up a Caligula, eyes locked on the moon, mind set on the impossible? Still trying to understand. What happened to him.What he himself did.


Winter Stories

August 2009
Shunt Lounge, London


Winter Stories is made of fragments of places, senses and events, composed of stories that have shaped lives and left their traces.Winter Stories deals with nostalgia, and trying to recall without pain and longing, and it is about remembering home.

The first phase of the Winter Stories Project was a performance created for the MA Performance course at Queen Mary University of London on 17th May, 2009.


Photos: Emily Orley and Verity Coombe

Ivory Towers

With Emily Orley

June 2009

 Photos Mel Shearsmith

A performance installation at the Easton Community Centre, Bristol. Part of the sixth You and Your Work Festival. A dining table was slowly and deliberately laid with an ever-increasing array of cutlery to create a small-scale but epic landscape.

The World Rests On A Tortoise

February 2009

With Cafila Aeterna

Let's Murder The Moonshine: 100 Years of Futurism, Goldsmiths, London


A durational performance as part of a practice-led research project with Goze Saner that aims to explore the tortoise as a container in which we can engage with our relationship to home, to distances, to lights, to time, to age and to agelessness, to conservation, to extinction, to burrowing, to being invisible, to reappearing, to keeping going, to staying, staying still, staying on the road, staying the same.


With Emily Orley

November 2008

Resistance Gallery, London

 I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...I long for you...

Another Brief Encounters (or the breaking of images) site-specific performance installation with Emily Orley. Part of the fourth my site | in space, curated by Switch Performance Company. The gallery, underneath the railway arches in Bethnal Green and not far from where Jack the Ripper’s victims were discovered, is thought to have been the site of an opium den and later an air raid shelter. For the installation a track made from knives and nuts spelt out a rhythmic message in Morse code.

Photos: James Shilland and Andy Eaton

My Site | In Space

November 2008

Resistance Gallery, London

Guest curator and artists’ mentor of My Site / in Space 4 event at Resistance Gallery, London. 


Photos James Shilland and Andy Eaton


With Emily Orley

June 2008

Shunt Lounge, London


A performance installation with mirrors, torches and a hammer, involving the making and breaking of a series of images in response to the myth of Narcissus and Echo. The third Brief Encounters (or the breaking of images) performance with Emily Orley.




Photos: Elinor Brass

Depth of Field

With Cass Fleming and Caoimhe McAvinchey

A research project inspired by Frances Woodman's photography, which, like performance, values disappearance as part of its condition. Depth of Field is an investigation and response to the performative nature of Woodman’s work.




Photos Francesca Woodman

Seamstress (re-visited)

September 2008

Rag Factory, London

A performance in response to an old coat factory off Brick Lane at the Rag Factory, London. Remembering the factory's past the performance mapped out sewing machines onto the floor. This site-specific performance was presented as part of a My Site | In Space event.


Photos Rajni Shah


With Emily Orley

October 2007

Green Room, Manchester             

Photo © Green Room




A performance installation at the Green Room, Manchester (part of 'Emergency' platform for live art) which involved a fleet of teaspoons making their way across the cafe bar, only to disappear moments later. The second Brief Encounters (or the breaking of images) performance with Emily Orley.


With Emily Orley

October 2007

Shunt Lounge, London

A site-specific performance installation tracing puddles with electrical tape at Shunt Vaults, London.The first Brief Encounters (or the breaking of images) performance with Emily Orley. 


Photos: Elinor Brass 


March 2007

Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, London

A performance in response to the rickety, dusty old chairs of the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club. This was part of the first My Site | In Space event organised by Switch Performance Company.



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