Transversal Madness


Transversal Madness is a performative project created by Swedish choreographer Carima Neusser and visual artist Per Huttner. It takes its inspiration from a painting by Swedish 19th century painter Carl Fredrik Hill and investigates different forms of insanity and how social and political ideas informs our understanding of the phenomena. The two artists find in Hills’s work great tools to understand the current social and political climate and especially why right wing populist has such an appeal today. The performance invites the audience to enjoy music, film and dance in unusual and creative configurations in order to reflect on how desire can be re-considered to challenge their conception of the world.

In the early part of the performance the following text is read:

“This performance takes its inspiration from a painting by Swedish 19th century painter Carl Fredrik Hill. At the age of 28 he started suffering from hallucinations and paranoia and remained in a state of madness until he died at the age of 61. During the time of insanity, he produced many thousands of drawings and paintings. It has been said that making art was a way for him to retain a grip on the confused and haunted world that he was living in. These painting have an uncanny quality and far outshine the work he produced when he was sane. In many of the paintings human desires are revealed as powerful forces. The artworks are like mirrors that allow us to look into our own souls afresh and see the creative potential of our desires. Can they support us in distinguishing our own desires from the ones that others try to impose on us?

 The painting that has inspired us, depicts women whose bodies are virtually immaterial, their faces appear normal while their white hands live their own lives – independent of their rational self. Around him, Hill saw faces and bodies that acted in socially acceptable ways, while their hands revealed another person another world. Beneath their façade of respectability he saw another being whose desires and intentions were running wild: the sane are afflicted by another form of socially acceptable madness.

Hill saw beings who were prisoners of a will to control everything in their lives: their bodies and everything in the world that surrounded them. The people who were considered to be sane were over-investing in order, rationality and efficiency. They were hollow, their spirits dead. They were cut off from their own desires and what they really desired was revealed by their hands.

 Our understanding of both madness, desire and the artist is informed by romanticism. But are the spiritually dead aware of the state they are in? Are the hollow men aware of their hollowness? Are we all equally alive, equally mad and equally in contact with our desires? These are some of the questions that we invite you to consider in this performance”

At one point the following quote is projected in the space:

“[It is absolutely hopeless to think in terms of security for] there is none. The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.”

-Henry Miller

Performances have been shown in Mexico, Brazil and Sweden in 2019-2020. The events have been supported by the Swedish Arts Council and Helge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse.