Troubleyn | Jan Fabre


MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV in 'Not Once'.  Photo by Phil Griffin.



An art installation with film

Conceived and written by Jan Fabre
Performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov
Film directed by Jan Fabre & Phil Griffin


For the past four years, iconic Belgian artist Jan Fabre and legendary performer Mikhail Baryshnikov have worked together on their first collaboration. British artist Phil Griffin joined them as a co-director of the film NOT ONCE. (...)

Of Mr. Baryshnikov, Jan Fabre says:

“I first met him in 2009. I was struck by his incredible hypnotic blue eyes and his gentle personality. Before we met, I had seen Mr.Baryshnikov dance in many documentaries, and I saw a dancer who is more than just a dancer. I saw a contemporary performer who gave spiritual weight and meaning to movement, and by that reason content. Years went by, and I was lucky to see Mr. Baryshnikov perform live in Manchester. I thought immediately that my theatre text NOT ONCE. would be something for him because I saw a performer in action that embodies the ancient idea of metamorphosing and transforming into something else.  We had great days working together in Antwerp.  Mr. Baryshnikov is a stubborn and very detailed artist. Exactly what I like”. 

Based on a monologue written by Jan Fabre, NOT ONCE. unveils —through 11 imaginary rooms of a photographic exhibition— the platonic relationship between the subject and a female photographer who, for years, has manipulated his body and reworked it into different entities. The multimedia work is conceived for film and explores the relation between an artist, his work and life, his public, and ultimately, the balance between giving and taking - between dependency and independency. 

Mr. Baryshnikov says of the collaboration: 

"I've lived a long life, but never thought that one day I would be part of a museum installation. It's a first for me. I've known Jan Fabre as a visual artist for many years, and have been acquainted with his work. When I visited TroubleynLaboratorium in Antwerp I was surprised and flattered when Jan proposed this project. He told me he had a challenging text in mind, which intrigued me — why this text, and why me? I now think he can answer that question better than I can, but working with him has been an intense and fascinating experience. He works like a painter, throwing ideas in, trying things, fearless experimentation. I've never worked like that before. I hope that Jan got the canvas he wanted." 

For the film of the art installation Jan Fabre invited the British artist Phil Griffin as co-director.

Jan Fabre says of the collaboration:

" I've known Phil Griffin since 1987 when he performed one of the knights in the first dance performance I created Das Glas im Kopf wird vom Glas. In 2014 Phil returned to his artistic roots to capture the creation process of Mount Olympus - to glorify the cult of tragedy (a 24 hour performance). At night we had long conversations about the nature of my work and my artistic drive. It resulted in the artistic documentary Surrender, a film that I treasure highly since it is a truthful, uncensored, straightforward, hard but loving report, on how we live and breathe our artistic work at Troubleyn. And since I like to continue collaborations and deepen them, I asked Phil to join me in creating the film of NOT ONCE.


Conceived and designed as an art installation with film, this new creation will be presented in museums and possible in proscenium theatres worldwide in 2020.

Artist biographies can be found here


Conceived, written & directed by Jan Fabre
Performed by Mikhail Baryshnikov
Film directed by Jan Fabre & Phil Griffin
Music and sound design Stef Kamil Carlens                          
Dramaturgy Miet Martens
2nd unit director & editor Giulio Boato
Post production and grading  Tom Aston
Voice recordings Lorenzo Danesin
Foley Stef Kamil Carlens & Lorenzo Danesin
Mastering voice and music Gilles Martin

A project by Angelos (Antwerp, BE), Troubleyn/Jan Fabre (Antwerp, BE), Baryshnikov Productions (New York, US)

Executive Producer: EdM Productions

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