Animal Magnetism 1

Animal Magnetism 1 (2009) by Henriette Pedersen: Animal Magnetism 1 was the first of three productions in Henriette Pedersen's trilogy about hysteria, called Animal Magnetism. While the next two productions discuss the so-called animal woman and male hysteria respectively, Animal Magnetism 1 discusses hysteria the way it was explained by the Nartman Sisters in Hospital Salpêtriére towards the end of the 1800es, among others.


(Objekt ID 7861)
Object type Production
Premiere February 25, 2009
Produced by Nartmanstiftelsen
Coproducers Black Box Teater
Audience Adults
Language Volapük
Keywords Dance, Contemporary dance, Music, Tragicomedy/Seriocomedy, Performance, Dance theatre, Multidisciplinary
Running period February 25, 2009  
Website Animal Magnetism 1 (2009) Henriette Pedersen

Requirements to venue

Blackout Yes

In Animal Magnetism 1 Henriette Pedersen bases her work in hysteria the way it was explained towards the end of the 1800es, in works by Freud among others. In Paris hysterical women were hospitalised in the mental hospital Salpêtriére, where the doctor Jean Martin Charcot worked. Charcot used his patients as objects for hysteria diagnostic research, something which included presenting hysteria for a male audience every Thursday. Ibsen, Bjørnson and Strindberg were all reported to witness these performances and to be inspired of what they got to see.

The term animal magnetism refers to one of the many cures to hysteria. Other recommended therapeutic measures were long walks in the woods, long baths, intimate physical contact, beer from Bayern, hashish, opium, morphine, speaking in tongues, arsenic, electro shock therapy and operations, the latter often done on the sex organs.

According to the Norwegian encyclopaedia Store norske leksikon hysteria is an "older medical term used to describe dramatic conduct reactions or bodily troubles, often connected to strong, visible and seemingly uncontrollable emotions («hysterical»)." The condition was described on papyrus as early as 1900 B.C and in the Antic Age it was regarded as a condition only affecting women. The word hysteria stems from the Greek hysteria (womb) and is related to the original belief that the illness could be connected to disturbances in the womb. Hysteria ceased to exist as a diagnosis in 1926, to be replaced by diagnoses such as dissociative disorders and dramatising personal disorders.

In Animal Magnetism 2 (2009) Henriette Pedersen sought to present the passion, the aggression and sexuality of the hysterics. Due to this, the production circles what Pedersen calls the animal woman, the woman the man fears, the dangerous, erotically charged female body out of control, who has left its intellect for the sake of carnal lust. This kind of woman is liberated from the romantic idea about love and sexuality and distances from her original role as a victim in a way enabling her to meet her surroundings in a confident manner.

In Animal Magnetism 3, in which male hysteria is the subject, Henriette Pedersen explores how the masculine role such as it eventually is regarded in 2010 matches the description of male hysteria. Including other things, this production is based on Sigmund Freud's description of a patient he used to call the Wolf Man. About Wolf Man Pedersen writes the following in the Black Box playbill (translated from Norwegian by Sceneweb’s Lillian Bikset): "Wolf Man was one of Freud's most famous patients and perhaps the best known male hysteric in the world. As a little boy Wolf Man showed his penis to several female relatives having problems with it. He was threatened with a knife and punished with massive religious education. In addition he had a dream in which several white wolves sat in a nut tree upon one of which lost his tail. Freud stated anxiety for castration in the patient, constructing a primal scene for his theories to fit. Freud's theory was that Wolf Man as a young boy had witnessed his parents copulate like dogs a heated summer day. Only this sexual position could explain the later symptoms of The Wolf Man.

Henriette Pedersen is educated as a choreographer, working with site-specific and performance oriented art. Her works range between performance art, fake vernissages and dance and theatre related performances. In the work with the Animal Magnetism trilogy she combines the different working methods in creating a full-length performance, which later is transformed to more site-specific and performance related performances.

Animal Magnetism was supported by Arts Council Norway, The Norwegian Composers’ Fund and the Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs/MFA (travel grant/performing arts).


Autumn program 2010, Avant Garden.

Black Box Teater Oslo,, 07.10.2010,

henriettepedersen,, 07.10.2010,

Store norske leksikon,, 07.10.2010,

Spring program 2009, Avant Garden.

Contributors (11)
Name Role
Henriette Pedersen – Concept/Idea
Henriette Pedersen – Choreography
Lars Petter Hagen – Composition
Sidsel Pape – Dramaturge
Elinor Ström – Stage design
Elinor Ström – Costume
Inger Johanne Byhring – Lighting design
Christine Kjellberg – Dancer (Nartmandatter)
Marianne Kjærsund – Dancer (Nartmandatter)
Kristine Karåla Øren – Dancer (Nartmandatter)
Anette Therese Pettersen – Producer
Performance dates
August 27, 2011Kulturhuset (Stockholm), Kulturhuset in Stockholm Show
August 26, 2011Kulturhuset (Stockholm), Kulturhuset in Stockholm Show
August 25, 2011Kulturhuset (Stockholm), Kulturhuset in Stockholm Show
August 24, 2011Kulturhuset (Stockholm), Kulturhuset in Stockholm Show
March 27, 2011 17:00 – Atalante Show
March 26, 2011 19:00 – Atalante Show
October 24, 2010 Show
October 23, 2010 Show
October 22, 2010 Show
February 20, 2010ASPN Gallery Show
February 16, 2010 19:00 – Galleri Maria Veie Berlin Show
March 28, 2009 19:00 – Teaterhuset Avant Garden Show
March 27, 2009 19:00 – Teaterhuset Avant Garden Show
March 1, 2009 19:00 – Store scene Black Box Teater (Marstrandgata) Show
February 28, 2009 19:00 – Store scene Black Box Teater (Marstrandgata) Show
February 27, 2009 19:00 – Store scene Black Box Teater (Marstrandgata) Show
February 26, 2009 19:00 – Store scene Black Box Teater (Marstrandgata) Show
February 25, 2009 19:00 – Store scene Black Box Teater (Marstrandgata) Worldwide premiere
Festivals (2)
Stockholm Fringe Fest August 24, 2011
Access & Paradox - open art fair October 22, 2010
Press coverage

Høyland, Elin (03.07.09). Review titled Barnevenleg spasmetease i galleriet* (Child-friendly spasm tease in the gallery). Kunstkritikk,, 28.10.2010,
"As a performance the effect has its vulnerable points in the three performers being left to their own improvisational series, in a room where the audience is close but not inter-acting as anything but (curious/insulted/ignorant/tolerant?) wallflowers. There is a stroke of something sultry, almost embarrassing in the air while the desperate hysterics, made up to the point of sick and ugly-beautiful, switch between closing themselves in into their own outbursts and addressing some of us along the wall or windows. (...) Pedersen can, for her part, safely prioritise intimate versions of the following chapters in the Animal Magnetism trilogy, and not least the collaboration with costume maker Ellinor Ström and composer Lars Petter Hagen."

*Not yet translated into English. The title within parentheses is the Norwegian title's literal meaning.