Phil Sanger - ​​STATUESQUE

Unpublished Report and Performance (2021) 


STATUESQUE: Reminiscent of a statue in size, posture, or stillness. 

The ramifications of Covid-19 were disruptive on many levels. From the feelings of isolation and loneliness experienced by the individual, to the break-down of the theatrical experience and to the loss of connection to the communities that often replace our sense of family. In order to confront the multifarious effects of lockdown/social distancing, and to reverse the feeling of petrification we worked closely with hosts and partnering venues to reimagine the theatrical experience for a world in lock-down. 

The work is a representation of the feeling of petrification that one experiences when contact with community is lost. It is a study on the effects of covid 19 related lockdown and social distancing from the perspective of marginalised groups & queerness, speaking particularly to the experiences of those who may have already been subject to long-term social exclusion, intolerance & persecution. 

Exploring health through three key perspectives the work explores Identity, Kinaesthetic Empathy & Spatial Orientation.   

Kinaesthetic Empathy This aspect of Statuesque was explored through a contact duet of long duration between two co-habiting artists. The work, Butoh in style, is be part improvised, part prescribed and lasting approximately 5 hours, creating a work that audiences can visit in the same manner they would visit art and sculpture. Physical contact provides many health benefits, the act of holding and being held triggers hormones that support well-being. For many people this was not possible and during lockdowns and kinaesthetic empathy was an offering of non-physical contact. Neurologically speaking there is no difference between holding hands or seeing (even imagining) someone else holding hands. In statuesque we apply this concept to audience spectatorship promoting an experience of contact. 


Remembering who we are. The power of representation and what it means for individuals to see themselves represented in the world they move through cannot be understated. 15 diverse artists persent solo’s that reflect who they are. They move together to both represent and reflect also the world they inhabit. 

Spatial Orientation 

A socially distanced, site-specific performance with artists from separate homes and bubbles. This work was improvised and interactive, designed first of all for outdoor performances and was transferrable to larger indoor spaces such as galleries. A group of highly experienced dance artists with exceptional orientation skills create a work through improvisation practices. An audience, on-foot, moves between the skilled performers who maintain social distance parameters and demonstrate how to interact playfully with space. 


Access: The project prompted larger discussion and further research about access and inclusion. This project coincided with my tenure as a Clore Fellow and in the months which followed a comparative report was prepared in collaboration with my secondment host Sage Gateshead, to assess and compare how Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations are responding to, and managing inclusion. The report concludes with recommendations for best practice in the area of inclusion.

Links to work: 

Statuesque Group Performance at Kirkstall Abbey:

Restoration: Duet of Long Duration at Seven Arts Centre: