About Desire Lines

'Desire Lines' is a collaborative research and performance project that investigates the choices we make with our feet. We explore how landscape and architecture, and the pathways between, all nurture our imaginations and help us define ourselves in an ever-changing world.

In 'Desire Lines' the artists from the Esch-based collective Ampersand Variations come together to open up a dialogue between inner and outer landscapes and facilitate innovative ways to engage with place, self, other and community. The paths of exploration are the trails referred to as 'desire lines' in mapmaking and urban planning. These organic paths haven’t been designed by a human brain, but are created naturally by animals and humans, born of our desire for a shortcut, or simply the unconscious following of paths already taken. 'Desire Lines' brings together a multidisciplinary artistic team and local participants. The artists are dramaturge / circus artist Frieda Gerson, walking artist Alisa Oleva, scenographer / performance artist Clio Van Aerde and theatremaker Claire Thill, in collaboration with the Kaizen Parkour Academy.

During the research period the team met and interviews local communities, who were also invited to participate in free workshops. From the collected theatrical and documentary material the artists created a participative, site-specific performance and a number of audiowalks, all of which are feature interviews and binaural field recordings intertwined with new writing and musical compositions. n August for the launch of the Dudelange audiowalk, Frieda Gerson directed a second site-specific performance as part of the Acoustic Picnics organised by OpderSchmelz.

Throughout the project a panoplie of multidisciplinary artists, practitioners and participants collaborated on the project, amongst which: Chris Reitz, Emre Sevendik, Lucie Ribeiras, Stephany Ortega, Arthur Possing, Mika Schaeffer, David Holbrechts, Mau Cugat, Marica Marinoni, Louisa Wruck, Sylvie Ewen-Gindt, Candida Julio, Lara Well, Christopher Lumu, Gabriel.le Taillefert, Daliah Kentges, Marie-Christiane Nishimwe, Julieta Martin, Sophie Meyer and many more.

About Ampersand Variations

Ampersand Variations is a non-profit association that brings together artists and cultural actors from different disciplines within a protean collective. The aim is to encourage multiple constellations and collaborations, to favour the implementation of projects and artistic interventions in cultural sites but also in the public space through performances, installations, residencies, workshops and conferences. Functioning as an experimental laboratory with artistic and social dimensions, the collective questions notions of identity, representation and collective imagination.

Biographies of the artists

Alisa Oleva profile

Alisa Oleva

Alisa Oleva is an artist working in the field of psychogeographic and audiowalks. Cities are serving as studios for her while the urban landscape is her raw material. Born in Russia and now living in London, Alisa examines the limits of personal vs public, individual and collective, visible and invisible, urban choreography and archaeology, traces and borders, voids and silence.

The primary intention behind Alisa’s work is to give the participants of her performances an opportunity to see the usual and mundane through a new filter, to become misplaced and lost, let the banal and quotidian (infra-ordinary) mingle with the imaginary and fictional.

A walk as an artistic strategy allows for alternative approaches towards any everyday actions, like wandering around the city. The artist’s works are always a response to a place and emerge from the urban environment and interactions with citizens. They may take the form of performances, urban interventions, walkshops, audiowalks, sound and photographic essays.

In 2017 Alisa travelled to Norilsk, the second-largest Russian town in the Arctic Circle to take part in the first ever PolArt residency. Her project “Shortcut” investigated the short cuts local people took to save themselves from cold temperatures in winter when it can get down to -50C.

claire thill profile

Claire Thill

Claire Thill is a Luxembourg based performer, writer, and theatre-maker interested in exploring multidisciplinary territories of performance and storytelling.

Claire trained as a performer at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and with Philippe Gaulier in Paris. She is an alumna of the Forum of Young Theater Practitioners of the Berliner Theatertreffen and studied Viewpoints and Sizuki with the SITI Company in New York. Claire is a founding member of several collectives such as A Year of Free Homes, a London based collective that creates public actions in the city, as well as of Independent Little Lies from Luxembourg.

In 2013 Claire directed Ana Mendes’ Dance Play, a solo dance performance based on the true story of a young Afghan girl who had to dress up as a boy in order to survive in her native country before finally embarking on a long journey to Germany. The performance won the award of the jury at the 100Grad Festival at the Sophiensäle in Berlin.

For several years Claire has been integrating her own writing into her performance work. Her plays have been shown at Théâtre National du Luxembourg, Théâtre du Centaure Luxembourg, Théâtre des Capucins, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Rosemary Branch Theatre London, Prager Theaterfestival Deutscher Sprache, Teatro Britannico Lima.

She highly values working in a collaborative and process-driven way to fuse different art and performance practices into a cohesive, textured whole.

clio van aerde profile

Clio Van Aerde

Clio is a scenographer and performance artist based in Luxembourg. She studied scenography in Madrid (TAI) and in Paris (ENSAD), before graduating at the Academy of fine Arts in Vienna in 2016.

She works in various disciplines such as theatre, performance, artistic research, installation and film. Her artistic practice questions the trivial relations between body, time and space through performances that explore repetition and endurance. She has developed artistic solo pieces such as the site-specific walking performance series Syndrome de la Décélération (2016) and on line - a manifestation of the human border (LU, 2018), a walking expedition exploring the physical border of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

She organised the Open-Air Artistic Research Residency ANTROPICAL in Steinfort (LU) from 2017-2019 and co-founded the collective Antropical – Ministry of Strange Affairs in 2020.

She worked at théâtre Vidy in Lausanne as Dominic Hubers scenography assistant with Rimini Protokoll on Nachlass – Pièces sans personnes (CH, 2016). She was stage designer on several theatre productions with Jethro Compton in Vienna and collaborated as stage and costume designer with Anne Simon on Stupid Fucking Bird and Dealing with Clair both staged in 2019 at Théâtre des Capucins. She created the scenography for Habiter le temps directed by Michel Didym at Théâtre de la Manufacture in Nancy in 2020.

Frieda Gerson profile

Frieda Gerson

Originally from San Francisco, Frieda Gerson is a writer, circus artist and director based between France and Luxembourg. She trained circus at the San Francisco Circus Center and theatre at l’École Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She studied the Viewpoints technique with the SITI Company in New York, and masked theatre with Mateo Destro in Italy.

Frieda regularly teaches Viewpoints and circus arts (Diplôme d’État de Professeur de Cirque) and has a certificate in circus dramaturgy from the Centre National de Arts de Cirque in France.

Frieda works regularly on social circus projects and as a dramaturg or outside eye on multidisciplinary projects with a focus on combining movement and text. She worked as a director on Claire Thill's interactive site-specific show Pixie Pixel, commissioned by the Cité de l'Image Clervaux.

Frieda is co-founder of the circus-theater company Kallisti and the research collective le Collectif en Cours. The artists of the Collective come together as a multidisciplinary group dedicated to exploring collective forms of movement and an artistic evolution of the individual within the group.

Frieda is currently working on PARASITE, a project mixing circus, theatre, science and philosophy that raises thorny questions about the existence of free will. The project was presented at TalentLab#19 with the Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and will premiere at the Théâtre National de Luxembourg in 2022.