Thumbnail of CoverPage 24 of the May 2013 Issue of Frieze

A 'laboratory of mixed emotions'. The uncanny world of Meg Stuart's dance pieces. A small, cumbersome figure wrapped in a heavy robe of layered quilts, her mouth stuck in a grimace, each foot shackled to a sack of bricks as if about to be drowned. A picture that hurts, even if there is no story to accompany it - no tragedy, not even a scream. Arranged into this staticlooking image, the dancer and choreographer Meg Stuart drags herself across the floor in her latest work Sketches/Notebook (2013). At the other end of the room, costume designer Claudia Hill, who dressed Stuart beforehand, strips her back down to her thin, naked skin. Designers and live musicians are often seen on stage as performers in Stuart's productions. The entire first part of Sketches belongs to Hill. Again and again, she readies the dancers for a brief photo shoot before tidily hanging all the props back on the clothes racks. These are acts without consequences, anti-processes like eating fast food, writing job applications, fruitless shopping trips. In Blessed (premiered in 2007 at Berlin's Yolksbuhne), it was Jean-Paul Lespagnard who dressed the dancer Francisco Camacho (soaked, like the cardboard palm tree and swan props, by the artificial cloudburst on stage) in a beach towel and a death mask. The scene may be paradise or a typhoidinfested swamp, but at least the issue of style has been taken care of. Asked whether her tendency to turn the stage into a dressing room points to a hidden Marie Antoinette complex, Stuart answers: 'So not!' Instead, she explains her need for designers by saying that 'individualities are incomplete'. The artist herself