Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A German theme

There's been a German theme recently. I was honoured to host the interview with Melina Sedo, which was very interesting and illuminating.

I watched Over your Cities Grass will Grow, a film by Sophie Fiennes (who is English, sister of Ralph), watching German artist Anselm Kiefer, who grew up in the ruins of post-war Germany, at work. Offered an extensive property by the French government, he developed a landscape of his own work, as well as a studio and library. Erudite, but also at home melting a vat of lead with a large blow-torch, or creating a mound of broken plate glass around a sculpture, a huge book made of lead. Everything is physical and on a huge scale: heavy lifting gear is needed to move the paintings. When you see the works in a gallery they can be massive, but always look refined and poetic, informed by layers of allusion. The film is still showing in London.

& I saw the Pina Bausch company in Iphigenia in Tauris, a dance set to the 18th century opera by the German composer Gluck: the 18th century, the best century for opera! Stunning: a full orchestra, a chorus of 24 soloists and singers on the sides of the stage, with the dance on-stage. To obtain a fair wind to sail to sack the innocent city of Troy, Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia. When he returns home, his wife murders him to avenge her daughter, and his son, Orestes, murders her to avenge his father, and exits pursued by Furies. Of course, none of this happens onstage. In Euripedes' version, the goddess has saved Iphigenia from sacrifice, but doesn't inform her family. We meet Iphigenia some years later, and there's a sense that we are in the land of the dead. The mad Orestes turns up, and brother and sister recognise each other: it's hardly a resolution. But the music and the dance are beautiful.

& German film-maker Wim Wenders is completing a film on the work of Pina Bausch – filmed entirely in 3D. He says that 3D can show dance with an immediacy never possible in 2D. This seems to be the future: one day soon we'll upload our 3D vids to YouTube, and watch them in 3D. It won't be long now.

Jericho: Anselm Kiefer at the RA Summer Exhibition 2010.


tangocherie said...

I shall never forget seeing Pina Bausch's "Rite of Spring" at the Opera Garnier in Paris. During the preceding intermission, huge containers of earth were emptied on the stage and leveled by stage hands.
As the dancers leaped and pounded and rolled on the dirt, huge clouds of dust floated into the orchestra pit and I wondered how the musicians could see the score let alone breathe.

But it was an amazingly moving and powerful experience, made more so by the gilded ambiance of the wedding-cake theater.

Tangocommuter said...

Many thanks for the description, tangocherie! I missed it two years ago when they brought it to London: I tried to book seats three weeks before it opened! This time I booked over a month in advance, and got one of the last seats available. Pina Bausch is the only contemporary company that fills a theatre like that.