Olivia Laing: The Struggle for Bodily Freedom

Forum on European Culture

Programme editor
Rosalie Dielesen
Location & partner
‘We’re not just individuals, hungry and mortal, but also representative types, subject to expectations, demands, prohibitions and punishments that vary enormously according to the kind of body we find ourselves inhabiting. Freedom isn’t simply a matter of indulging all material cravings, Sade-style.‘ (From ‘Everybody: A book about freedom’ by Olivia Laing)

Ethnic profiling, LGBT-free zones and the undermining of abortion rights are just a few examples of recent threats to the physical integrity and safety of European citizens. But could the excluded human body be the ultimate means to resist these punitive new laws? And if so: what stops us from rising up and demonstrating for basic rights?

In ‘Everybody: A book about freedom’, Olivia Laing charts an electrifying course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to explore gay rights and sexual liberation, feminism, and the civil rights movement.

Melyn Chow and Tea Tupajić will react tot Olivia Laings philosophy with short performances and their visions on the relationship between bodies, politics and freedom.

This programme is a cooperation between De Balie and Frascati. Tea Tupajić was produced by Frascati Producties and Melyn Chow is currently part of the production house of Frascati, Frascati Productions.

About the speakers

Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and cultural critic. She’s the author of six books, including bestsellers such as The Lonely City (2016) and Everybody: A Book about Freedom (2021). Her books have been translated into 19 languages. She writes about art and culture for The Guardian and The New York Times.

Melyn Chow is born and raised in Singapore, works in the field of Dutch mime, physical theatre, contemporary dance and performance. 

Tea Tupajić researches the role that art and performance can play in popular, often controversial social issues.


Olivia LaingWriter and cultural critic | Photo: Sophie Davidson
Melyn chow
Melyn ChowInterdisciplinary performance maker | Photo: Eva Roefs