Chokri Ben Chikha

Photo of Chokri Ben Chikha

Chokri Ben Chikha is an international performer/artistic director/researcher. He obtained a Master in History at Ghent University and accomplished additional trainings as theatre-maker, actor, dancer and choreographer. He has taught at several institutions: LUCA - School of Arts Ghent, RITS Brussel, Toneelacademie Maastricht, Universiteit Antwerpen. Since 2007 he is lecturer and researcher in arts at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ghent (KASK). Between 2003-2008 he was artistic director, theater-maker and performer for the international performance group Union Suspecte.

Chokri Ben Chikha interrupted his theatre activities in order to focus on a PhD in the Arts at KASK/UGent, entitled "What is the critical value to use stereotypes as signs in theatre? The 'human zoo' as a (re)search tool". This research project made the link between colonial history and the post-colonial present by using the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the world exhibition in Ghent (1913). The research project gave rise to the foundation of the international performance company Action Zoo Humain (AZH) and the multidisciplinary performance The Truth Commission (2013) in Ghent. The production was performed in Cape Town, South Africa (2014) and in the old courthouse in Antwerp (2016).

Action Zoo Humain is the performance group of theatre-maker/performer/researcher Chokri Ben Chikha, theatre-maker/actor Zouzou Ben Chikha, visual artist/archeologist Sarah Eyckerman, business manager Hanne Boelaert & historian/photographer Carmen Van Praet. Along with this artistic and commercial core, the artistic team consists of Walid Ben Chikha (musician), Marijke Pinoy (theatre-maker, actress), Mourade Zeguendi (actor), Sarah Eisa (theatre-maker, actress) and Dahlia Pessemiers-Benamar (theatre-maker, actress).

Action Zoo Humain examines in how far theatre can directly affect reality without losing sight of its poetic potential and sense of self-criticism. The company uses the historical concept of the 'zoo humain' (human zoo) as an instrument of (re)search to raise questions about ethnic, religious, nationalistic and economic conflict zones.

Action Zoo Humain strives to expose power structures, bring inter-cultural issues into the open and activate the public. The company in this respect seeks to use contemporary formats to represent the (complex) cross-cultural social reality.

Action Zoo Humain consciously chooses not to become part of a larger entity so as to continue to act as a bridge between artists/academicians, the artistic/social-artistic sector, and young talent/experts, as well as between individual artists and cultural institutions.

Action Zoo Humain starts from the local, metropolitan super-diversity and encourages and develops international collaborations with both independent artists and organizations.