“The periphery is a territory that escapes definition. It releases a greater sensation of liberty, especially for a creator. In the centre, places and things are already codified, they already bear a definition and we can only look at them as if it were a postcard. The periphery, on the contrary, is like... plastiline. One can still mold it. On top of this, it defines better who we are. Even if we all want to belong to the centre, our real way of being expresses itself through the strangeness and precarity of what exits around it.” Elvira Navarro (Spanish writer)
'The better life' investigates how the periphery of the stage-arts relates to its central actions and classic motors in a dialogue with the specific character of the surrounding space. This site-specific project for monumental/sacral spaces is about how we can go to the heart of its individual components by mastering the art of suggestion in the framework of a collectively experienced ritual. The extensive use of only light and sound/music implies a new relationship to space and performativity within the hugeness of the accompanying architecture.
Therefore new insights in the basic importance of the theatrical elements and the theatrical space are necessary. 'The better life' is a project that discovers the bounderies between the monumentality of space, sound and light and investigates at the same time how dramatic action can dissapear or reappear in a context where the peripheric elements and not the classical elements speach and action are guiding. The project is a collaboration between the light-artist Jan Maertens, the musician Niko Hafkenscheid and (visual) architect Isabelle Pauwelyn. 'The better life' is a project difficult to categorize. It's flirting with the bounderies between a performance, a concert, a light-show, and a site-specific spacial discovery.
One of the primary goals of this collaboration is to establish an intricate relationship between light and sound, two main peripheral disciplines of the stage-arts, to find the essence of a scenographical and performative minimalism. We want them to become parameters of a renewed autonomy and freedom towards the existing patterns of perception (i.e. tending to search for historic, dramatic key-elements as movement, action and speach) within the framework of the theatrical setting.
At the same time this project is a way to find a new theatrical space for the place of the audience and the performer. The 'fourth wall' is continuously questioned, opened and closed in a game between centralised action, space and the intuition of the audience. Specific questions are created: How does the element sound relate to the stage if it isn't meant to accompany other theatrical actions? Can a light-object become a character? How does the performer relate as a character in the frame of the abstraction of a lightscenography and the architectonic space? And how do the elements sound, harmony, rhythm and liveness stand next to all that?
The core investigation of this project is to create an experimental in-between-space of hypothesis and doubt. From here on we are looking for a fresh theatrical context where the visual, the illusory/utopic and the sonore are central, more than the dancy or the acted. A main part of the project is to place the installation (a piano, a neon-light chandelier and the performer) in an interesting, alternative space and to get the specific theatrality out of this space without having to depend on it or use it a a fixed theatrical frame. The chosen elements should be confronted in an appropriate environment ready to transcend, to collaborate and to (dis)appear as a part of a collective gathering for a contemporary ritual.
'The better life' is a project guided by the idea that something is 'lacking' or 'absent' in most of the things we do. 'Real' life (or the 'ideal' or 'happiness' or the 'finality' of things) only would exist at a certain distance from where we are, as a desire for something we do NOT have and it is as such an exercise in imagining the ideal sense of the 'better', 'prettier' and 'clearer'.
This absent centre seems to have something threatening. As if everything around it only exists as if it were incomplete and had never come to adulthood. Precisely this very element of the 'unfulfilled' and the atmosphere it evokes of the repulsed, the damaged and the fragile, of those things that are not completed enough to belong to the centre.