Performing Robots

Blog Posts

Meet Bram Ellens, the Artist Behind “Robots in Captivity”


Meet Bram Ellens, collaborating artist of our project, Acting Like a Robot.

Based in the Netherlands, Bram worked for 10 years as an entrepreneur before making his career transition into an artist. Working under Edward Bernteyn as his first job as an artist, as well as spending time with different mentors and self-studying, he grew into an autonomous artist. He focuses mainly on theatrical sculptures and installations that are dramatic while simultaneously evoking a certain stillness. His works stimulate thoughts and curiosity, affording contact with the audience.


As a part of our project, we collaborate with Bram and his exhibition, Robots in Captivity, to think about robots that are on display, performing, and the interactions they afford with humans. Taking place in Buitenplaats Doornburgh, robots are held in captivity in this exhibition, each with its own background story such as what they were designed to do, where they come from, and why they are kept here. Through artworks on display here, Bram explores humanity’s relationship with robots and technology, and the new dynamics they create in our society.


We take Bram’s works as roots for our thought development to research similar questions from an academic perspective. Observing the ways in which Bram’s robots afford interaction with the audience, and defining the interaction itself, we are able to understand how robots function as a theatrical agent as well as a social one. In addition, by researching robots that were created for other purposes (such as industrial robots) at work on a performance environment and engaging in their design/choreography process, we not only gain deeper understanding on robots as a part of our society, but also discover outcomes that could potentially contribute to the field of robotics itself.


Furthermore, we contribute to Bram’s works by providing different theoretical perspectives from an academic standpoint through meetings, workshops, and brainstorming sessions. By participating in the creation process of his works, we help enrich their connection to academic/social debates and introduce different possibilities for both Bram’s and his robots’ next steps.


If you would like to know more about Bram, please visit his website. You can visit the exhibition, Robots in Captivity, at Buitenplaats Doornburgh until 9 January 2022.
Click here to buy tickets, and see here for more information on the exhibition.