Meg Stuart
Damaged Goods
Jozef Wouters/Decoratelier
La Libre, Meg Stuart, Lion d’or à Venise, dans de nouveaux territoires - Guy Duplat (19.01.18) [ French ]
Le Vif, Trip à la sauce indonésienne - Estelle Spoto (24.01.18) [ French ]
La Libre, Meg Stuart, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, tests new waters - Guy Duplat (19.01.18)

Meg Stuart, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, tests new waters

La Libre, Guy Duplat, 19.01.18

The American choreographer Meg Stuart, who was been working in Belgium since 1994, received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale. Former illustrious winners include Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch, William Forsythe and Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker. On Thursday evening, she will also present her new production, titled Celestial Sorrow, in the Kaaitheater in Brussels.

A work that aptly demonstrated why she merited this award as, in the jury’s words, the choreographer has continuously sought to redefine herself in her work, developing a new language and a new method for each creation.

Her most recent work was created for Europalia Indonesia. She was introduced to the Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto, who created an installation for Grand-Hornu. Together, they worked in Yogyakarta around a common theme: how can the past and its ghosts be expressed by bodies, music and light?

The Indonesian artist focused on the painful memory of the long Suharto dictatorship, which was overturned by the student movement in 1998, and the horrifying massacre of millions of communists in 1965–66.

The result is compelling and very impressive. The spectators are seated along the walls. More than 1,000 light bulbs hang from the ceiling, forming a starry sky, which at times casts a harsh light on the stage. The Japanese DJ Mieko Suzuki stands behind her turntable on stage, playing obsessive lounge-style music.

Three dancers, singers and performers create overwhelming and at times even bizarre ambiences. The choreography opens with a long, shamanistic meditation, with cries, various sounds, a golden cloak, followed by a mad, rave-like trance, like a rite of spring on ecstasy. Sorrow, the candour of the images of our youth, mysterious Indonesian figures and the heightened kitsch of a saccharine-sweet song from Java all follow.

The sounds formed by plenty of different noises and breathing, the costumes by Jean-Paul Lespagnard (including a cloak with fairy lights) and the lighting design are especially well done.

What you see on stage is all inspired by the situation in Indonesia. The light that flickers on the trucks, the clashing noises. These are all ways of reminding you that the dark Suharto years are really behind us. And the sorrow of the sad songs refers to the fact that this music was banned under the dictatorship.

While the choreography is dark and experimental at times, the audience is swept away on several occasions, by the extraordinary talent of the performers and the vocal acrobatics from Berlin (Jule Flierl and Claire Vivianne Sobottke).

Meg Stuart once again demonstrates her talent for taking risks and exploring new territories.

Mouvement, D'huile et d'eau - Sylvia Botella (30.01.18) [ French ]
Mouvement, Of oil and water - Sylvia Botella (30.01.18)

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