image by Merel Bem image by Merel Bem
Mette Sterre: Fabulations for the End of the World

Liminal encounters of mineral-looking entities in the dark
entangling and disentangling in unpredictable formations.
A primal machine reaches out for touch – her skin is soft, and she is craving for love.
Contacts. Collisions. Stillness.
The atmosphere is saturated with elementary charge,
animating all matter alike.

Mette Sterre’s creations escape fixed definitions. They exceed performance practice, installation, digital technologies, costume-making and sculpture – potentially expanding their territories without limits. By entering her work we are cast into the materialisation of her mind processes: an unpredictable participatory and sensorial experience.

The environments created by the artist are loaded with transformative energetic fields that animate new worlds in which we encounter organic and inorganic living organisms and speculative fictions. The undecipherable glowing matter unfolds in front of us. What is it made of?

Animators in costumes, robots, sounds and visuals unravel in anarchic formalisms and otherworldly movements, acting as a strategy for disorientation, de-centering and trespassing spatial parameters, linear time and human certainties.

Creatures that seem to be assembled into hybrid and chimeric formulations – partly machines, monsters or nonhumans – are occupying the same space as us. Rather than being ego-centered actors within a system that still oppresses those that are ‘less than human’, Sterre’s creations celebrate our variance through dissonance, in a dimension of both fear and ecstasy.

Are we not hybrids yet? Formed of bacteria, minerals, fluids and parasites, we are also one with the environment, in a vitalistic, metamorphic processes. Simultaneously, we are slowly and surely also decomposing... In this ecosystem, even rocks have agency.

200 Imperfect fingers modelled on a full-body soft armour
are pointing at someone… is that you?
“I wonder if nothing happened tomorrow” replies the dog.

Sterre’s work gives value to the devalued, both aesthetically and conceptually. Emerging as a monstrous femme creature with rotating manicured fingers and accompanied by a talking cyborg dog, the artist makes room for exploring and exploding the power structures that silently – although violently – regulate our lives. We are asked to get closer… but do we really want to talk?

Quirky intimacy between the performer and the public is enacted as a method to confront our anxieties around normalcy and look into what most frightens or excites us. As the public interacts unconventionally with the desired object – an ‘unnatural’ body – also our notions of ‘heterosexual alignment’, integrity and wellness fall apart and reveal themselves as criticisable fictions.

When approaching this tentacular entity, the binarisms speech/non-speech, human/monster, nature/cyborg, life/death, (wo)man/animal, dynamism/stasis are troubled and dismantled. These debris allow for an autonomous, affectively charged time and space to emerge and alter our personal lived experiences and collective consciousness. Abjection and desire are at work in this moment to analyse our own preconceived understandings and perceptions of sexual desire and power dynamics.

In here, we can let go.

Text written by Giulia Casalini - PHD candidate Feminist Live Art at the University of Roehampton