(The Ritual – The Installation – The Story)

“A man climbs a mountain as if he is walking on a rope stretched between two mountaintops. With a cloud of smoke tied to his back. As if he believes he is made of smoke himself, so light. He believes the cloud of smoke makes him lighter. He believes belief can move mountains and that he can fall upwards.” – Peter Verhelst

Image by Kris Dewitte


Calculated Risk by equilibrium artist Kasper Vandenberghe is composed of three intimately entwined parts: The Ritual, The Installation, and The Story. The audience can experience this trilogy in any order they wish. The course, then, becomes a poetic quest for how much vulnerability we allow ourselves today, in a Western world that passionately believes in the perfectibility of humankind and society. However, how could we perceive vulnerability as strength? And, simultaneously, how do we withstand the gusts of wind and rain of life? In Calculated Risk, Vandenberghe dances on the flaccid tightrope between two profoundly human desires: the desire for balance and the desire for a bottomless leap into the unknown.

Image by Kris Dewitte


In The Ritual he climbs a scaffold, dressed in a harness of mattress stuffing and bubble wrap, only to let himself fall like a stone from a height of exactly four meters and twenty centimetres. It is calculated recklessness. It is an ode to the fragility and exceptional resilience that the creating artist relates to a playing child. Moreover, every step of the ritual is accompanied by a text by Peter Verhelst.


The Installation shows the studio of Vandenberghe. The museal setup reveals the drudgery behind his meticulous research into failing and trying again.


During The Story, he explores the different aspects of the calculated risk. He gives an account of his conversations with field specialists (like a circus performer, hypnotist, insurer) to further dissect the bottomless vacuum of things. He offers a personal testimony examining what might be the most significant calculated risk in our lives: love. By excessively slowing down the visual recording of his fall, Vandenberghe’s actions are put into a whole new light.

Is an artist that doesn’t take real risks still worthy of the admired epithet ‘artist’?
How large do risks need to be before being considered ‘real’? Is risk a precondition to being heard?

23 June 2019 (Premiere) – Almost Summer Festival, Kortrijk (BE)

29 June 2019 – Working Title Festival, Brussels (BE)

12-14 July 2019 – Cirque Plus, Bruges (BE)

20-21 July 2019 – Gentse Feesten, Miramiro, Ghent (BE)

16-18 August 2019 – Pukkelpop, Kiewit (BE)

15 September 2019 – Leffingeleuren, Leffinge (BE)

20 September 2019 – Dommelhof, Neerpelt (BE)

11 October 2019 – Leietheater, Deinze (BE)

12-13 November 2019 – Pilar, Brussels (BE)

Co-Produced by

Supported by



Marc De Kesel with a cultural-philosophical perspective on Calculated Risk

During his labyrinthine ordeal searching for the creation of Calculated Risk, performer Kasper Vandenberghe met with many field specialists, who each offered him a different perspective on his heroic venture: making himself fall from a precalculated height, making him jeopardise his self-preservation though securing his safety nevertheless. His traumatologist, project developer, and psychotherapist helped him along the process. A hypnotist helped him overcome his fear of heights. A circus performer taught him the technical ropes of falling safely. Additionally, Vandenberghe asked an insurer whether he could protect himself financially during this calculated fall and – metaphorically speaking – from a potentially traumatising experience of loss. Lastly, Vandenberghe queried philosopher Marc de Kesel, whose work focuses on the question of what it means to be modern, about the cultural-philosophical meaning of this calculated risk in light of modernity, which we live in today.


A fragment of De Kesel’s exposé: …