A man plays the piano in the middle of a shower of gently falling volcanic ash. That man is the pianist Frederik Croene. The world is being destroyed but beauty continues to dance all around us. Meanwhile, the ashes darken the scenic landscape transforming it to the rhythm of the music.
MARS II - Música para piano, pianista y ceniza automatizados (MARS II, Music for an Automated Piano, Pianist and Ash) is a visual and musical reflection, a poetic account of the impact of disasters on our thinking, created by the Belgian visual and performance artist Karl Van Welden (whose works have been exhibited in such places as the Venice Art Biennale 2017 or Art Basel Hong Kong 2018). In 2006, Karl Van Welden began United Planets, a cycle of visual and performative work based on how humanity relates to the immensity of the universe. Using the planets of our solar system as anchor points, he seeks answers to this fundamental question. Within the United Planets cycle, the MARS series measures human resistance to large physical forces.
Ecological disasters, economic crises and terrorist attacks weigh constantly on our minds. Sociologists such as Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens identify contemporary western society as a “risk society” due to its concern about risks, focusing primarily on disaster prevention. Yet paradoxically, the disasters that threaten us tend to be initiated by mankind. In this post-industrial society, the production of wealth goes hand in hand with the social production of risks. This has to do with the way in which society is organised, for example. And there’s also the principle of precaution: our focus on a certain threat prompts us to avoid it by all possible means. In this sense, any apocalyptic scenario, no matter how likely or unlikely it may be, turns into a kind of memento mori, a reminder of our mortality.
Concept, direction, sound and composition: Karl Van Welden
Dramaturgy: Bart Capelle
Sound, composition and pianist: Frederik Croene
Sound, composition and sound engineer: Vincent Malstaf
Machinery and production: Maarten De Vrieze
Lighting design: Jelle Moerman, Reynaldo Ramperssad
Production: wpZimmer (Bélgica)
Coproduction: Vooruit (Bélgica), Gessnerallee (Suiza), Uzès Danse (Francia), Le Vivat (Francia)
In situ: TAKT Dommelhof (Bélgica), La Strada (Austria), METROPOLIS (Dinamarca)
With the support of: Gobierno de Flandes, LOD muziektheater (Bélgica)
Thanks to: Piano's Maene