Saturday, September 13, 2014

Night at the opera- Elektra

A friend received from Klara, the classic radio station in Belgium, two VIP seats for Elektra, an opera by Richard Strauss, so I ended up in this bunch of opera going people, starting out with a glass of champaign and a divine chocolate mouse. I like to watch the filing in of people, to listen to the civilized hum of voices. The text, or libretto is based on a theatre text by Hofmannsthal. This seasons theme is 'Onmacht': Powerlessness... Max Reinhardt is the director of this chilling performance. The story: Klyt√§mnestra, Elektra's mother  together with her lover Aighistos killed her husband Agamemnon. Elektra is out for revenge, she becomes crazy, delusional, bitter, scheming and is taunting her mother. Chrysothemis is the other daughter who wants love and to have babies. She wants to escape the logic of revenge choosing for life. Orestes, the brother, is thought dead but he is alive and quite willing to perform the avenging act for Elektra, who by the way had dug up the ax used to kill her father so that in a kind of poetic justice his two murderers are killed by the same weapon. (I always loved Greek mythology, yet the murders, the incest among gods and royal families would sometimes be too much... ) Back to music and art: The role of Elektra is quiet a load, the grandiose Gertrud Eysoldt is always present on the stage. It is a heavy role in this one hour and forty-seven minutes opera. The role of the younger sister Chrysothemis was in excellent hands, a real nice performance, Orestes too was great. All the character parts were excellent as was the choir.
Yet most destabilizing was the decor by Patrick Bannwart and Maria Wolgast. The queen had been offering every day animals to the gods to give her peace and the scene where these animals fall into and on the stage is gruesome. When the blood flows over the walls it is disconcerting. What to me was the message of this opera is that by shedding blood, only more blood is shed in the end. Rache, paying back, avenging, wraak, an eye for an eye... it doesn't work. Stop violence... Make love, not war...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Guerilia nature in the city

 Walking through town, I started to notice how a small birch was pushing its way through the concrete... and kept growing. And soon enough there were cellars with an abundant life under their steel grid. Soon enough there were ferns where I saw no soil.
All kinds of small flowers and even very briefly a small white mushroom, all blackened to dust in a few days and then others springing up. Yes, it is autumn, yet this will to live, to survive in the urban landscape fascinated me.
These improbable compositions lend a special touch of beauty to the streets I walk. They draw my attention to the abstraction of lines, to the simpleness of color and the futility of pulling out the new tender buttons. They have decided to try and get through autumn unscathed or to return when pulled out or cut off. I prefer these streets where life imposes itself, the barren, clean lifelessness is to me uninteresting. Best are the dark alleys. Where nobody bothers the plants, where impermanence just lasts this bit longer.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Omheind - Fenced

Yesterday in Het Letterenhuis Omheind / Fenced, the second novel by Hilde Keteleer, published by the young publishing house 'Vrijdag', was presented. Leen van Dijck welcomed the substantial crowd and spoke, explained a bit about the task of Het letterenhuis and  spoke warmly about the new book of Hilde. Jos Gijsels spoke eloquently about her book. It was obvious they have known each other for a long time and he pointed out the importance of her book. The the desert came to us with the haunting music by AISHAM, a Palestinian-Syrian ensemble. Their music lets you feel the sand run between your fingers... and then Hilde read pieces by each of the four voices of her novel. The novel introduces us to a hybrid, checkered family with hankering for  the love of the mother and unknown fathers. Hilde is an accomplished writer and does good research so in reading the novel you glean a lot of information. She does, what I couldn't do weave reality into fiction, incorporate it as the spine of the story. Her description of what a desert can do with a person did hit home for me and the difficulties of  not so simple love between different cultures. She sparingly incorporates a few Arabic words underscoring the fact that you are 'elsewhere' in her interesting, mature novel.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Autumn in the city

About two weeks ago I smelled autumn  in the city and since then I saw chestnuts on the ground in the park, walnuts, acorns. Of course rain and slanted light among the trees... Leaves falling and two young chess players taking in the last sun of the day.

The clouds have been spectacular, not to discern faces or animals, just to see them move, just to see them and thinking of who will see this beauty after they have moved on...

Clouds move
from west to east
so what I didn't see
you will do
and then
the change
clouds from south to north
just clouds
quick and horzontal
no face formations
nor myths of celebrations
just clouds
and a horizontal
eye of a hurricane

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Clouds of Sils Maria

Clouds of Sils Maria is a wonderful movie which I happened to see because Andras Laszlo won some tickets from Radio Klara ( the classical and culture radio) for a special viewing in Antwerp. Juliet Binoche and actually all the other actors gave us their very best performance. I loved the movie because of ts layers of meaning and how to read them. The story is about an aging actress who is offered the role of an older woman Helena in the play she starred in as the younger actress Sigrid. She has to accept an award for the author of the play who on that very night commits suicide. A new production is planned and with her PA, Kristen Steward, the content and the way of performing the roles are discussed and different interpretations, aging, resiting the passing of time, reading in a totally different way what the play is about, kind of being stuck in the past interpretation of the younger actress she was.. Different options come to surface. For the older actress it is a harsh confrontation. So you have the 'real life' dialogs and the dialogs of the play she is studying. Both elements sharpening the relationship between  the actress and the PA. During a walk wanting to see the snake of clouds coming flowing through the pass the PA disappears... No clue whether she just turns back, commits suicide, falls, or is murdered... This is good, leaves open different readings of the interactions between the two women. The brilliant PA shows the actress how differently one can read the story. So reality, the play, different visions about acting and personal relations, it all becomes a heady mix. I loved the movie, I enjoyed the spectacular views of the swiss alps which also perform their role to perfection as all the actors did.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lucienne Stassaert and the translation of Emily Dickinsons poetry

Yesterday Lucienne Stassaert dropped in and after her visit I revisited some of her translations of Emily Dickinson. It is incredibly hard to translate Emily Dickinson's work since mostly she writes sparsely, just a few words - dashes - and deep thought. The difficulty in translating Dickinson's work is that the words she uses do double and often even triple duty. incorporating the resulting layers of meaning is sheer impossible. I admire Lucienne's reckless poetry and I see some of the traits of her own poetry showing up in her translations. Her double word formations really work as an enrichment of the language of her Dutch translation. Moreover Lucienne has created a free space of creativity and freedom yet still remains true to the great original texts.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tags, Graffiti and official art

I am intrigued by what people write on walls, in the case of the two first pictures on the walls of a prison.  The French one calling to put fire to the prison and the Dutch one saying Tear me down. Both with the anarchist A.

 This one I have read every day when walking the dog. I have thought of how to complete it, but recently I have decided it is just right. Without art we would have far less interpretations of art and we would probably be stammering in trying to explain stuff and say ehh... a lot. These three pictures are a kind of guerrilla art. In contrast to the beautiful poem by Paul van Ostayen on the wall of the local hospital. These two last 'interventions' in the urban landscape is in dialog with each other, almost the the ehh... as legitimation for the poem... And then on the long closed wine counter some one wrote: NOT SO SERIOUS...

Good advice...