Gradual and Persistent Loss of Control

Gradual and Persistent Loss of Control

Three artistic disciplines came together in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam as part of the first Dutch retrospective of the work of the Viennese expressionist Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918). The public was not only able to view Schiele’s paintings and drawings, but also had a chance to attend performances and dance. These were jointly produced by Dansgroep Krisztina de Châtel and members of the Independent Performance Group (IPG), created by Marina Abramović. It is the first time that the museum featured performing arts as part of an exhibition.

Like Schiele, both women were inspired by the human body in its most extreme form of expression. The Viennese painter often used the (naked) body in his work. Instead of simply portraying the physique of his models, he tried to go further by revealing their innermost fears and desires. For years both Abramović and de Châtel have sought to understand what the body means, both to themselves and to others. As part of this quest de Châtel often collaborates with other (visual) artists. In this project she was curious to see how Schiele’s work could inspire her and she challenged Abramović to work with her dancers. She hoped that the proximity and intimacy created by the museum space, and which is often lacking in theatrical spaces, allowed the visitor to experience the body in new ways.

Both physically and mentally Abramović seeks to attain extremes. In de Châtel’s work it is either the vulnerable body that confronts the primordial power of nature, or there is a struggle within the body itself as desire and control vie for power. The three artists in the Van Gogh Museum also exposed a “different” kind of beauty. Contorted, ostensibly captive bodies, which exude both power and vulnerability.

Pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama accompanied the dancers during performances on a grand piano. She composed a “sonic tapestry”. It is a new work that incorporates fragments from compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Rihm en Satoh along with personal improvisations: a musical entity which is both nameless and timeless.

Costume and fashion designer AZIZ was responsible for the costumes.

Schiele acquires meaning again. This is a performance and an exhibition that can truly be qualified as sensual. (NRC Handelsblad)

Pleasantly unrefined associations which emphasise the universal character of Schiele’s oppressive, raw and sensuous work. (Trouw)

Here the makers penetrate Schiele’s mindset most profoundly, which sometimes results in beautiful choreographies. (Het Parool)

Tortured dance meets shattered nudity. (de Volkskrant)

premiere 25 March 2005, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
choreography Krisztina de Châtel, Marina Abramović
dance Andreas Kuck, Cecilia Moisio, Massimo Molinari, Keyna Nara, Swantje Schäuble, Goran Turnsek, Igor Bacovich, Barbara Devens
music Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Rihm, and others
live performance Tomoko Mukaiyama
costumes AZIZ
photography Maurice Boyer