As I collapse
– installation 2020

A performative installation connecting humans and microscopic beings in a virtual and physical space

"...piece, that without compromises, insists on the connection between all living beings, in a way to self-absorbed and smug world"

Casper Koeller -

The installation is about the cognition and sensitivity between living beings as explored through the element of water. The online format offers a social distancing safe bridge between the physical space you inhabit as receiver and the physical space we inhabit as art makers. We thus embrace the shared virtual space where we meet.

Our tiny co-creators of as I collapse are the luminous micro algae called Pyrocystis fusiformis. Pyrocystis fusiformis can produce light with their bodies when exposed to sudden movement, making this invisibly small algae visible. When they cast their glowing blue light across the surface of the ocean and swirl in massive streams and numbers, these creatures make enough light to make them visible even from outer space. Embracing these different aspects of scale, and the very special ability of this microscopic being, the installation elaborates on the encounter between the human body and microscopic algae.

An experience with multiple layers
Water is the natural habitat of the algae. We are all made of water. There is no sense in the logic of water and there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’: no binaries exist. Throughout the performance you will be guided on an exploration involving different interactions with water. We invite you to be curious, open minded, and to use all your senses.

The piece consists of various layers you can dive into and explore as you like.

In the intro video above, you can hear the thoughts behind the installation as explained by choreographer Tina Tarpgaard.

One of the layers involves a meeting with the Pyrocystis fusiformis themselves. Participants will receive at their homes or collect from our presenting partners a sealed bag that contains a colony of these algae along with instructions for long-term maintenance. (Short-term care is actually easy, but we’d love it if you would consider developing a longer bond.) Afterward, you will be able to admire their magical ability in your own home and use this physical encounter to start reflecting on some of the questions the piece proposes.

The top layer consists of a performance-experience via online streaming. Here the interpreter & performer will guide you through different explorations of water and life in a stream of words and images using different scales. It is performed live and for a limited audience each time. It can be described as a sort of digital intimacy across physical borders.

And to delve even deeper, you can experience a guided meditation with a sound file designed with immersive sound of water and text written for us by author Ida Marie Hede.

You can explore each layer separately or consecutively in your own timing, and you will always have the possibility to re-experience those which are not being performed live.

The installation is available both as an ‘at-home’ viewing through Zoom, which is suitable during lockdowns, or to attract audiences from different locations. The installation can also be experienced as an immersive ‘in-venue’ installation, where audiences can watch the stream collectively in an immersive space where you can interact with the algae and partake in a shared sensory experience. Both versions are possible at once.

The reviewers wrote the following about as I collapse:

as I collapse by Recoil Performance Group was successfully adapted to the live streaming format due to the coronavirus situation and showed a simple and scientifically poetic organic context that can connect us and that may seem particularly important in this period of isolation. The very close body images became a world and the whole world became the body.”

Mette Garfield, art critic of “Bastard”

“…it is a piece, that without compromise, insists on the connection between all living beings as a contrast to a self-absorbed and smug world.”

Casper Koeller, art critic


Concept and choreography: Tina Tarpgaard

Original performer and interpreter:  Nelly Zagora

Text: Ida Marie Hede and Nelly Zagora

Sound and video design: Mikkel Larsen

Research artist/ Consultant: Pei-Ying Lin

Producer: Carlos Calvo

PR: Ida Fredericia

Graphics, photos and video: Søren Meisner

Duration: approx. 1 hour

Language: original version was English. Has been presented in Catalan, Brazilian Portuguese and can be adapted to other languages (please contact us)

The piece is supported by CPH Stage and The Danish Arts Council.

The online installation as I collapse of 2020 is based on the performance as I collapse of 2017. It is a speculative dance performance taking its point of origin in the collapse of our general perception of the world as being divided into two: nature and culture.

as I collapse presents a speculative fictional universe that presents bodies on a very different scale, ranging from a microscopic format to the size of a human being. In an attentive and energetic performance, focus is turned to our culturally inherited understanding as being superior to other organisms. Here, boundaries are blurred between the visible and the invisible, between man and microbe, while the individual disappears into darkness and is replaced by a single, luminous, united organism.

The performance as I collapse of 2017 is the first part of the trilogy The Membrane Project

This piece is one of the 6 works curated by CPH Stage Festival for its International Days which held a virtual edition in May 2020.  

It was also presented at FESTIVAL CENA EM PORTO ALEGRE in October 2020 as well as Den Frie Felts Festival in January 2021, which was live streamed in Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Malaysia.

Rethinking the culture/nature duality

Created by a strong team of artists and scientists, as I collapse offers a renewed discourse on matters of sustainability by calling attention to the precondition for a more sustainable future: namely, in rethinking our relationship to ourselves and our surroundings, and by extension, our inherited misunderstanding of being superior to other life forms. as I collapse wants to challenge our understanding of our own biological substance and our interaction with otherness. The performance poses critical questions, thereby challenging the human assumption of being at the top of the evolutionary chain, and deals with what a redefining this role means, including its impact on the creating choreography. Presently, new scientific studies are trying to rethink and re-conceptualise the anthropocentric view on the culture/nature duality. In line with this movement, as I collapse seeks to dissolve this dualism by de-centring the human body in order to enter a balanced and respectful relationship with other living beings.