In 2018, Opera director Monique Wagemakers initiated the idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk (all embracing form of art) for the oldest opera still performed to this day: L’Orfeo (1607) by Claudio Monteverdi. And thus it came that contemporary artist Lonneke Gordijn (DRIFT) collaborated with the director Wagemakers and choreographer Nanine Linning on a new concept, in which they all had to re-think their usual way of creation.
For this production, artist Lonneke Gordijn (DRIFT) developed the overwhelming installation Ego: a moving hand-woven sculpture, of 9 x 4.5 x 4.5 meters, made of nylon thread that fills almost the entire stage image. Ego portrays the perspective of a man and shows how hope, truth and emotions are a direct result of the rigidity or the mobility of our world of thought. The sculpture shows, in interaction with singers and dancers, the inner world of Orpheus. Orpheus is stuck in his own rigid thinking about love and life. Only when his world completely collapses – due to the loss of his wife Euridice – does he rise above his own abilities. He has to fight against the laws of nature and this new goal in his life completely shifts his perspective and suddenly makes him a powerful figure. Ego is manipulated by engines, algorithms and specially developed software. During the performances, Ego is also conducted manually to respond to the changeability and subtleties of the live orchestra. The movements of and the projections on the sculpture represent Orpheus’ emotions, his fears and his power. Ego is therefore not a mere part of “the decor” but rather as a soloist on its own.
About the Concept of the Artwork by Lonneke Gordijn
A block to represent the inner world and perspectives of a human being. That was the idea from artist Lonneke Gordijn for a new interpretation of L’Orfeo. Gordijn explains that “absence of fluidity is one of the most striking differences between man-made objects and natural ones.” While in the natural environment, objects can take any form without any limit, human creations get a more limited range of variation. Squares, the ultimate embodiment of mankind, with their rigid lines, angles and static state, are everywhere. Books, houses, bricks are exemplifications of humans’ need to control, calculate, divide the space they have at disposal. The outcomes of many months of research and experimentations led to the creation of EGO.
For this project around the baroque opera L’Orfeo (1607, Claudio Monteverdi) Lonneke Gordijn worked with Monique Wagemakers (director) and Nanine Linning (choreographer) on a new interpretation of the eponymous hero. The focus was put on Orfeo, who is stuck in a rigid perspective of love and life, but eventually manages to become a better version of himself when every pilar and ground around him collapses. He has to fight against the rules of nature and this new purpose to fight makes him stronger and causes his perspectives to change into completely new and unexpected ways. However, in the normality of life, he finds himself unable to use this strength he newly acquired and cannot step out of his original perspectives.
Director: Monique Wagemakers
Choreography: Nanine Linning (Dance Company Nanine Linning)
Installation “Ego”: Lonneke Gordijn (Studio DRIFT)
Costumes: Marlou Breuls
Orchestra: La sfera Armoniosa
With dancers from Dance Company Nanine Linning.
Tour dates: Enschede (25 Jan, première),Leeuwarden (31 Jan), Maastricht (2 Feb), Utrecht (7 Feb), Amsterdam (9 + 11 Feb), Rotterdam (13 Feb), Zwolle (15 Feb), Arnhem (20 Feb), Den Haag (22 Feb).
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Photography: Marco Borggreve