MICHIEL KEUPER is a Visual Composer. He juxtaposes forms, shapes, images, colors, and applies his vision on multi-disciplinary projects of various scale. He values collaboration, sharing, interacting. He treasures the moment when single components add up, and create something new, something unexpected. When 1 + 1 becomes 3, or more. When the sum is greater than its parts. 

Michiel Keuper is an interdisciplinary designer, artist, and lecturer based in Berlin, Germany. Informed by his longtime background in fashion design, his work currently reaches from design to visual art and performance.

Michiel graduated in fashion design from ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Together with Francisco van Benthum, he had the avant-gardist mixed couture label KEUPR/van BENTM, which showed regularly at Paris Fashion Week from 1998 till 2001. KEUPR/van BENTM was known for its hybrid, conceptual designs, and their approach of an outfit as a total composition. Their work was featured in several international exhibitions, and covered in numerous publications. Furthermore, KEUPR/ van BENTM is represented in museum collections, notably the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, which holds an extensive selection of K/vB designs. As of 2016, the museum complemented their collection by acquiring six remaining key pieces from the KEUPR/ van BENTM archive. Recently  KEUPR/ van BENTM has been included in group exhibitions at the Goethe Institut in New York (2017), as well as at the Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2018).

Besides his autonomous work with KEUPR/ van BENTM, Michiel worked as a freelance women’s wear designer for more than 15 years, designing for various international companies such as G-star RAW, Ghost London, Clements Ribeiro, and PUMA by Alexander van Slobbe.

From 2009, Michiel extended his practice to visual art and performance. Initially he took up painting and set out to explore the composition of images in two-dimensional ways. In 'The White Series' from 2012 for instance, he dissected his fashion background by erasing the traces of fashion from fashion magazines by painting them over with white acrylic paint. This series subsequently served as starting point for oil paintings on bigger scale canvases. 

Around 2013, he picked up collaborating with choreographers and performers, as he had done early in his career. This time he extended his research to set designs and spatial concepts. Also, by designing costumes, he came back to working with the body, though now not merely from a fashion angle, but with additional emphasis on movement and improvisation. Since then he has created set and costume designs for several contemporary dance projects. Recently he has worked with Martin Nachbar, Meg Stuart, Peter Pleyer, Joanna Lesnierowska, Julian Weber, Jess Curtis and Claire Cunningham, Sheena McGrandles, Jeremy Wade, Miguel Gutierrez and Hana Lee Erdman. In 2014 two of his set designs were ranked in Frieze d/e Blog's 'Highlights of 2014'.

From his beginnings with KEUPR/ van BENTM, all through his autonomous work, Michiel has been interested in collage, fragmentation and serendipity. His graduate collection in fact, was based on silhouettes that resulted from photo collages. Then, in his collaboration with Francisco van Benthum, serendipity was included into the design process by putting an alarm clock and switching sketches back and forth in 5 minute intervals, which made for the hybrid design vocabulary for which KEUPR/ van BENTM became known.

Serendipity and composition-by-chance also play a significant role in his recent collaborations with Peter Pleyer. In the performances I SEE RED (2016), MOVING THE MIRROR (since 2016) and CRANKY BODIES DANCE RESET (2017) he started to explore temporary images during live performance. Coined 'Transitional Sculptures', the installations emerge and resolve during the performance. They interact with the dance and vice versa.

"As I started working with dancers who create their material through improvisation, I was looking for ways to include improvisation in my approach as well. Therefore I got interested in temporary and transitional proposals, as opposed to a pre-fabricated and static statements.
A dancer’s material is their body; the nature of their creation is intrinsically ephemeral. As a designer, my material is almost always matter, fabric, objects, stuff. I leave traces that speak for me, even when I’m done. I became interested in interacting with the dancers, and in pursuing a certain transparency as how I make artistic decisions live on stage, like they do. This also comes from the desire to challenge the notion of a deep rooted hierarchy in terms of the art disciplines. An object, be it a painting or a sculpture, is more often than not perceived of higher value, because there is a product that one can put a price on. A dance is fluid in time and only there for the moment. Even though a performance can be documented on video or film, it’ll never capture the mood, the energy of that initial moment when it was performed. By proposing what I call Transitional Sculptures, I want to escape the hierarchical concept of an object with lasting impact against the fleeting presence of movement."

Alongside his autonomous visual work, Michiel currently lectures fashion design at BA and MA courses in the Netherlands, Poland, and Germany. Also he teaches masterclasses in moulage, a technique that is frequently used in couture. In moulage one creates shapes and constructions, directly with fabric on a mannequin, as opposed to traditional pattern cutting, which starts out in a 2-dimensional, mathematical form on paper. Moulage (or draping, as it also known) proves to be an inspiring technique for designing in a three-dimensional way, and for finding innovative construction solutions. 
Michiel studied moulage with Rixt van der Tol, as well as with Hieron Pessers. 
In 2004, after Pessers’ untimely passing, he was asked to take over Pessers’ yearly masterclass at FIA/ Fashion Institute Arnhem. Since 2015 Michiel has been teaching masterclasses in The Netherlands and Poland, based on the method "Draping, Art and Craftsmanship in Fashion Design" by Rixt van der Tol and Annette Duburg.