VAN GOGH IN ME
LIVE MEDIA PERFORMANCE
Van Gogh in Me is a live media performance conceived together with the Nederlands Kamerkoor; an immersive audiovisual experience, where the works of two iconic artists of the time, Vincent Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt, accompany the audience through an all-round, immersive journey through the fin de siècle of the 19th century.
A time of intense change, the show retraces the history of the commonly called Belle Epoque, going from the 1870s to the outbreak of the first world war, through the melodies of musicians of the time, such as Satie, Debussy and Mahler, and the reimagined works of Van Gogh and Klimt. An emotionally-charged experience, the show is a succession of narrative climaxes where the history of those decades finds new interpretations through its cultural scene. At the same time, thanks to microphones and sensors, the emotions, gestures and singing of the people taking part in the performance are detected and tracked, subsequently influencing the visual output of the show. A unique way to live the works of the artists, to stimulate diverse thinking and create new, unprecedented connections between elements: Van Gogh in Me is a reinterpretation of the past that could not be more intertwined with our contemporaneity
"And in a painting I’d like to say something consoling, like a piece of music.”
Vincent Van Gogh
We started developing the main narration of the show together with the Nederlands Kamerkoor, in a four-handed process that characterized the full production of the performance. The main intention was narrating Europe at the end of the 19th century (1880-1914), drawing bridges with the present through a stratification of events and meanings.
This interconnection of elements is reflected by the structure of the show and by the three languages employed: the choral music interpreted by the Chamber Choir, the visual level on which the artistic journey of the two artists takes place and, lastly, the technology, which processes real-time data (through sentiment analysis) making the final experience a cross between performance, concert and participatory installation.
The result is an experience where the boundaries between music and image blur: the paintings become audible, the sounds acquire materiality in an all-round experience that swallows the audience. The public’s role is not only about being spectators but becomes, together with the choir, an active participant in the creation of the work: it is their memory that activates the historical component, their emotions that influence the animations of the performance. It is this interrelationship that characterizes the work: all the elements influence one another in an infinite loop, suggesting a unique and exhaustive understanding of the time period.STORYLINE
The storyline of Van Gogh in Me leads the audience through the fin-de-siècle, by means of the life stories of Klimt and Van Gogh and the historical context of the Europe in which they lived. These two different perspectives are the perfect pretext to tackle the historical events that interested the continent from the mid-19th century to the Great War through the eyes of the artists, creating new parallelisms between the historical context and their personal lives and emotions.
The show develops around 15 pieces chosen from composers of the time: Saint-Saens, Debussy, Rilke, Satie, Alma and Gustav Mahler, Strauss and Schönberg. Each song enters in dialogue with the works of Van Gogh and Klimt and their historical background, adding a new layer of complexity to the narration.
These musical pieces symbolically trace the lives of the two artists covering their private and artistic journeys. The first part focuses on Van Gogh's life, scaling from a narrow to a wider view, from the personal to the collective, up to the universal: walks in the fields, portraits of peasants, inner turmoil, loneliness, despair. In the central part, the torment is sublimated through the expressive power of his works and the influence they have had on Klimt's art. The final part tells the evolution of Klimt's style, the refuge in beauty at the dawn of the Great War, as summarized in one of his most surprising works: Beethoven Frieze. The music, in the same way, follows the narrative thread of the story with sometimes intimate and sweet atmospheres, sometimes dark and disturbing.
At the same time, the audience witnesses the unfolding of events through historical films and photo material. Images of the bustling city and idyllic countryside leave space to the devastation caused by an impending war with marching armies and bleak trenches, to which follows a rebirth, the final return of peace, of new life, over the ruins of destruction.