Making the ungraspable tangible. Or how Romeo Castellucci gets his ‘Minister’s Black Veil’ right the second time

Posted in performance, theatre with tags , , , on December 28, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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When was the last time these people had been queuing up to get into a church? Not to admire a unique painting or a stained glass window, but for a real service? Just a thought, as I was standing on the steps of Antwerp’s Sint-Michiels church, watching the crowd, waiting for the doors to open, thinking about religion, theatre and rituals. Three things I was sure this evening was going to be about. The Minister’s Black Veil. Five years ago Romeo Castellucci tried to stage it, but he failed. So I was really curious to see what he would do this time, with the help of American actor Willem Dafoe.

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Crack effect of another kind: Mark Manders explores working on a larger scale (‘Dry Clay Head’ at Zeno X, Antwerp)

Posted in art, sculpture on December 15, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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“You have to walk around a sculpture. A sculpture doesn’t have four sides. There are many ways to look at it.” The more I was inspecting Mark MandersDry Clay Head, the more I felt drawn to it. And I remembered what Berlinde De Bruyckere had told me once, about the complexity of creating a sculpture. Looking at this impressive, peaceful face reminded me also of the fact that watching pictures on a gallery website can never beat the sensation of actually being in front of a work of art. Because although Dry Clay Head doesn’t speak, it will talk to you. You’ll wonder about the clay (it’s bronze) and about the tension created in the work by that plank, slightly bent, and that rope. With works such as Dry Clay Head (through December 17, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp) the Belgium-based Dutch artist is exploring working on a larger scale. Manders was recently invited by the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) to create a sculpture for their sculpture park, to be opened June 2017. He is also working on a bronze fountain for Amsterdam’s Rokin, and was asked to create a large sculpture for Central Park in New York (2018).

A trip towards the sublime: “Rain” (live) by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker & Rosas

Posted in contemporary dance, dance with tags , , on December 10, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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It’s as if you are searching for something that you’re never able to find. What a reader of this blog once told me. A remark I suddenly remembered, as I was watching Rain, version 2016, fifteen years after Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker had put it to the stage for the first time. I realized that person was right. Although I know there are other things in art to aim for than the sublime, part of me will always be looking for that: beauty’s more exalted version. And here it was.

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Mourning in a museum of another kind: ‘Moeder’ (Mother) by Peeping Tom

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, performance, theatre with tags , , , , on November 24, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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A painting starts to bleed, a sculpture comes to life, and isn’t that coffee machine behaving rather strangely? Welcome to Peeping Tom‘s universe, where “normal” is a concept that doesn’t seem to exist. With Moeder (Mother) the Brussels-based company once again puts on stage a piece resembling a surreal dream, in which one strange event follows the next.

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Torn clothes and shattered hopes: ‘Nicht Schlafen’ by Alain Platel & Les Ballets C de la B

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, sculpture, theatre with tags , , on November 12, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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The piece reached its low point somewhere near the end, when one of the dancers pulled his briefs down and started fucking the dead horse that had been lying there all the time, legs wide open. It was not a scene depicting utter hopelessness or despair, it was a scene that stood for the lack of directorial vision I had been feeling for quite a while, watching Nicht Schlafen; at that point a piece that seemed not to know where to go anymore. Just do something, and it will be okay. Even fucking a horse.

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A florist of a different kind: Taryn Simon’s historical bouquets at Almine Rech (Brussels)

Posted in books, contemporary art, photography with tags on October 14, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

 

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What would I do? It’s a question I sometimes ask myself, playfully, visiting exhibitions. What if I would be an artist? What kind of work would I make? What would it look like? Probably something like this, I thought recently, looking at Taryn Simon‘s striking photographs of floral bouquets at Almine Rech (Brussels, through November 5). Something eerily beautiful and puzzling at the same time. Work for which a lot of research and patience is needed and that contains references to stuff that matters to us in this world, today.

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Those magic fingers are at it again: “Cold Blood” by Jaco Van Dormael and Michèle Anne De Mey

Posted in contemporary dance, dance, film, theatre on October 3, 2016 by Utopia Parkway

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“Three, two, one”, a voice said. “When you open your eyes, you are still alive.” The lights went on, and it seemed as if everyone around me was waking up. A few moments later everybody in the theatre (KVS, Brussels) got to their feet for a roaring standing ovation. If there’s one thing filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael and choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey are good at, it’s this: bringing a packed theatre into a state of collective reverie. Yes, Cold Blood, the successor to that immensely successful Kiss & Cry (180.000 spectators, 300 performances, 20 countries) has its flaws, but to make a theatre with grown-ups look at things with the same sense of wonder they had when they were kids? Quite unique.

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