Visiting Experts: Ene-Liis Semper

Touch of Reality

In her lecture, the video and installation artist, author and contemporary theatre director Ene-Liis Semper will ponder on the following:  “To put it simply – for the last 20 years, I have worked as an artist who, with a previous career in visual arts, started to explore a human’s relationship to reality with tools of contemporary theatre. Using contemporary theatre as a tool means for me using body, space, objects, rhythm, sound, light in creation of visual metaphors.”

As we approach the world with our theories, we often try to take over reality. We as usurpers are putting our theories about the world on the real world. Taking time for observation opens the opportunity to see and experience things around us as they are, not as we expected them to be. I ask: How to find the core, the source of tension and the impulse of creative act in reality?”


Ene-Liis Semper is an Estonian video and installation artist and theatre director. Semper is one of the most internationally acknowledged Estonian contemporary artists. Her works almost always involve a kind of duality, maintaining a precisely measured cognitive balance between seriousness and irony. The artist interacts with the viewer through testing the limits of both physical and psychological space. Semper’s video works have been shown in a number of exhibitions around the world including Manifesta and Venice Biennale. 

In 2004, together with Tiit Ojasoo Semper founded Theatre NO99, becoming its artistic directors, as well as the authors of original texts for most of its productions 

Theatre NO99 (2004-2019) was a serial work of contemporary art.  

At the beginning of it was an idea that considering the inherently finite nature of time and its finality, time should instead be measured backwards. This served as the impetus for Tiit Ojasoo and Ene-Liis Semper’s idea for a theatre where only 99 stage productions should open and which thus moves along sequential numbers to zero, towards oblivion. 

Theatre NO99 was a platform for different types of art works. Over the years many of its productions achieved considerable success at the most prestigious European festivals, including Wiener Festwochen  Festival d’Avignon, Holland Festival and Venice Theatre Biennale.  In 2015, Theatre NO99 won the main prize Golden Triga at the Prague Quadrennial, and in 2017 the European Theatre prize New Theatrical Realities. 

Since 2019 Semper works as a professor of Scenography in Estonian Academy of Arts. Next to her department, she has started and runs the Lab of Figurative Thought— creative laboratory, that studies artistic image as visual language, in action.

Ene-Liis Semper will direct Helsinki City Theatre and Theatre Academy’s co-production in spring 2023. In the production Semper will work together with Theatre Academy’s actor students and lighting designer student.

Visiting Experts

The open lecture is part of the Visiting Experts series where international experts in the arts and sciences, invited by the Theatre Academy, share their knowledge.


7.3.2023 at 17:30



Sörnäisten rantatie 19

00530 Helsinki

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