Daphne Karstens

Plein Theater

02 Sep.



03 Sep.



04 Sep.



04 Sep.



What happens when the wearable object guides the performance? In her work Daphne explores the possibilities of wearable sculpture and translates this to performance. She calls this ‘wearable sculpture-based performance. ‘PANG’ & ‘PING’ are the first two parts of the triptych ‘PANG-PING-PONG’. The wearable sculptures are leading the performances through performative interaction in stillness and in movement.

‘PANG’ is an abstract performance inspired by the process of the big bang, an abstract approach on the creation of dimension, translated into a visual slow-motion process. ‘PANG’ shows the story about shape, from nothing to everything. ‘PANG’ questions the human connection to the shape and space around us. This is achieved through a constantly changing sculpture, which creates new connections to the world around us and where the human shape is appearing.

‘PING’ is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s piece of prose ‘Ping’ (1966). Near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences are the main inspiration for the performance and the costume. The performance visualizes the struggle of a person submerged in an unknown and ephemeral world, exploring the relation between the physical body and out-of-body ‘spiritual body’. The spiritual body is ephemeral; it might only exist for the briefest of moments.

The outside layer is a sculptural shape inspired by the human body, restricting the movement of the performer. The inside layer is an abstraction of the human body with a smoke system integrated. The smoke machine gives the possibility to experiment with the visibility and invisibility of a second (ephemeral) body and suggests an extension of the body while incorporating the space on stage.

Original creative team ‘PING’:

Choreographer: Angela Woodhouse
Performer: Lorraine Smith
Photographer: Alex Traylen
Light Designer: Neil Brinkworth
Sound Designer: Nik Kennedy

“PING offers an insight into the future of costume practice. Karstens’ performance design investigates the intangible qualities of motion, life-force and temporality, while being bound to the material pressures of being human. This is costume performance, elevated.”

Dr. Rachel Hann (Author of the book 'Beyond Scenography')

"Rarely is a designer able to contemplate and capture the ethereal aspect of a human being, looking to our layered existences and examining a spiritual or philosophic view of life through sartorial expression. Indeed, it is usually better not to try- as a tactile, temporal image on an actor is limiting because it is a frozen moment, and we humans exist in time and space, conscious and unconscious, past present and future. That Karstens has incorporated the ephemerality of smoke brilliantly opens out the way we think of her performer in relationship to ourselves as living, spiritual beings."

Susan Tsu (Chief Curator of the 'Innovative Costume of the 21st Century: The Next Generation’ exhibition in Moscow in 2019)

About the artist

Daphne is a Dutch wearable sculpture artist based at Broedplaats LELY in Amsterdam. In her work she explores the concept of body sculptures to create experimental and innovative wearable sculptures. She often works with unconventional materials and combines the individual qualities of materials in experimentation with shape and structure. She wants to explore and redefine the boundaries and possibilities of wearable art and translates the outcome of this research into visual experimental wearable sculpture based performances.

Her work ‘PING’ has been exhibited and performed around the world, in 2019 in Russia as part of the ‘Innovative Costume of the 21st Century: The Next Generation’ exhibition in Moscow which took place at the ‘A. A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum’, ‘State Historical Museum’ and the ‘MARS Center for Contemporary Arts’ in Moscow. ‘PING’ has also been exhibited in Finland (‘Critical Costume 2015’), China (‘Evolving Design for Performance’ exhibition at the ‘National Centre for Performing Arts’, Bejing and ‘Mingyuan Contemporary Art Museum’, Shanghai), United Kingdom (‘CONFLUX’ exhibition 2015 in London) where ‘PING’ won the ‘Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust Prize’ and Taiwan (‘World Stage Design 2017’) where ‘PING’ was awarded the silver award in Costume Design.​

She obtained her BA in Scenography from De Theaterschool, Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in 2013. She continued her education at the MA in Costume Design for Performance at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London (2015)

She regularly collaborates with the Swiss performance collective ‘Nucleus’, with whom she has showed work around Switzerland and at the Prague Quadrennial in 2019. Other examples of locations where her work has been shown are at the ‘Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema’ in Colorado and ‘Performatik’ in Brussels.

Daphne Karstens
Lorraine Smith
Dance artist
Sóley Sigurjónsdóttir
Wout Jansen
Technical support
Gita Hacham
Dramaturgical advice

Movement research in collaboration with: Ingeborg Meier Andersen.

Sculpture making assisted by: Miguel Hacham, Joost Hoebe, Karmijn Lange, Maya Nölling, Alice Sprascio & Elżbieta Szota.

Interns: Mikki de Gier & Nadine Räber

The research phase of this project was supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.

This project has been (partially) developed at Het Huis Utrecht.

This project is supported by the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Arts) and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.

Sponsors: Beitel Beestje, Kunststofshop.nl & HD-Rent.