Chokri Ben Chikha - © Oya Latifa

Chokri Ben Chikha

Chokri Ben Chikha (Ostend, 1969) is a Flemish/Belgian actor and theater maker. Since 2007, he is lecturer and artistic researcher at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of the HoGent (KASK). From this context, he founded, in 2009, the international performance group Action Zoo Humain, which is still under his artistic leadership today. In 2013, he obtained his PhD in the Arts. Today, aside from being a postdoctoral researcher and teacher at KASK/School of Arts/HoGent, he is also active as an actor and director.

In 1994, together with Omar Camara (Senegalese dancer and choreographer) and brother Zouzou Ben Chikha (actor, musician and theater maker) Chokri Ben Chikha establishes the theater company Nit Nithei Garabam. In 2001, he drew national attention with the theater production Bruine Suiker, an adaptation of the play Suiker (1958) by Hugo Claus. In 2003, the brothers set up the company Union Suspecte and produced the much talked-about family trilogy (De Leeuw van Vlaanderen, 2003; Onze Lieve Vrouw van Vlaanderen, 2005; Broeders van Liefde, 2008), with which they toured internationally.

In 2008, Chokri Ben Chikha decided to leave Union Suspecte in order to focus on his doctorate in the Arts, which centered around the research question: What is the critical value of the use of stereotypes as a theatrical sign? The human zoo as (re)search instrument, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK HoGent) and Ghent University.  Reflection and theatrical experiment are central themes in the work. Chokri Ben Chikha opted for a combinational form, an interaction between research on/for/through art and art on/for/through research. This research was art-critical, inter- and multidisciplinary in nature and presented itself essentially as a performative research project. It was from this context that Chokri Ben Chikha founded the company Action Zoo Humain in 2009.

With his new theater company, Chokri Ben Chikha produced in 2010 the Heroes Trilogy (2010-2012), which consisted of three projects around the status of the hero: one in Senegal (L'Afrique C'est Chique, 2010), one in the streets of Flanders (De Ceremonie: heldendood voor de beschaving, 2010) and one in the theater hall (De Finale: heldendood voor de beschaving, 2010). Finally, together with his brother Zouzou Ben Chikha, he completed his doctorate in the arts with the multidisciplinary performance De Waarheidscommissie (The Truth Commission) (2013), on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the World Exhibition in Ghent. This performance was also presented in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa, in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape, where he lectured at that time. In 2016, the performance was presented in the former Court of Justice in Antwerp, in collaboration with, among others, ccBe, Kultuurfaktorij Monty, Mestizo Arts Festival and Arenberg.

The Truth Commission became the first part of his international and multidisciplinary truth trilogy, which included the later second part Join The Revolution (2015) and finally Amne(s)tie (2017).

Today, Chokri Ben Chikha mainly focuses on the performances he creates with his company Action Zoo Humain and on his work as a post-doc researcher and teacher at KASK/School of Arts/HoGent. He gives lectures and presents performances at various (educational) institutions at home and abroad and creates performances for Action Zoo Humain and other international theater houses.