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Experimental chemist

Can Eva Meyer-Keller’s work even be called ‘dance’? She challenges the very concept, making you squirm in the process.

Thirty-fife cherries lie on a “surgical table”, awaiting their deaths. Next to them, a set of tools: scissors, pins, knives, a hammer. This cold, scientific precision, Meyer-Keller executes them one by one: some endure a mock gas chamber, one is burned alive, another is electrocuted. Adding a dramatic touch, Meyer-Keller puts on white surgical gloves to execute a lethal injection. Why cherries? “Cherries are similar to humans: they have kind, they have muscle, they have a bone, they have blood…” And it’s truly a bloodbath that Meyer-Keller asks her audience to witness. She’s the willing executioner challenging our tolerance (and acceptance) of everyday human cruelty.

Growing up in the small southern German town of Süßen, Meyer-Keller moved to Berlin at age 21 to study photography and visual arts at the HDK. Her destiny finally came to her in form on an idea from a friend, who suggested that she attend a dance audition at the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam. Eva blindly gave it a shot and was accepted. After four years of training in contemporary dance, Eva then went on to perform all over the world, working for Jérôme Bel and collaborating with names such as Kate McIntosh. Now based in Berlin, Eva performed in the 2012 Tanz im August and continues to present works that combine her dance and visual arts backgrounds: experimental and chemical in nature, with a focus on food, as in the cherry-killing Death is Certain (2002) and Cooking Catastrophes (2011). The latter piece, recently performed at HAU, invites audiences to dine on edible recreations of simulated disasters such as erupting volcanoes, oil spills, plane crashes, avalanches, 9/11 and tsunamis, combining a medley of foods including Surströmming, nearly-rotten Swedish herring. “I want to present catastrophes to people in a different manner. To force them to digest ideas that are sometimes impossible to even comprehend.”

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