you are what you eat.

the story as used by Marc Martin on his IEM-Paris exhib of may 2017:

Vividly remember the 1st time I did lights for a piece choreographed by Hans van Manen, a modern dance performance that premièred at Schouwburg Utrecht, with music composed by Louis Andriessen, inspired on de Stijl, a pre WWII Dutch artist movement with architects like Gerrit Rietveld and painters like Piet Mondraan. It had a completely white set (floor, wings and backdrop), and one quarter of the stage part of that floor was a 5 x 5 mtr. white flat platform that could move from upstage right to downstage and then to stage left with the dancers on top of it. And above hung a square of 144 parlights, that followed the cart and at the finale turned 90 degrees, forward, facing straight into, and blinding, the audience eyes. In the middle Andriessen's composition had a break in which an old ragged boogywoogy piano accompanied a spoken poem by one of the dancers, we would now call it a rap.

All in all a pretty complex piece as the music was played live and I had to start the piano and rap from tape, keeping it sync. The light was most critical: as the entire set was white, it had to stroke and caress the dancers, highlighting their countours and movement while never really visibly touching the floor. So van Manen kept on giving directions to adjust the essential sidelights, well beyond the point where the impatiënt première-audience was expecting to be allowed into the auditorium. Giving me the first experience in my life of what a heart-attack combined with a nervous breakdown would feel like.

With half an hour delay we could finally open the doors and start the performance, and all went great. But I still vividly remember some of the lessons van Manen tought me that evening: "think like a butcher; the meat always has to look appetizing, but never let the buyers know your secret, of how you do it by showing where the sunrays are coming from. Keep the mistery, don't destroy it with harsh shadows". Later on those lessons gave me the confidence to halt public access, when technical things weren't up to scratch in places like the Alte Oper in Frankfurt or the PrinzRegent theater in München. I also kept his words at heart when I was designing darkroom (and lighting) setups at Shaft Rotterdam, Vagevuur Eindhoven or Wasdag Delft.

There in the dark, it was even more important that the meat always looked its best and mouthwatering irresistable. These days working in the Vermeer Center I see that painter already knew those lessons:
Sure there was a window on the left side on most of his paintings, but there was no bright sun behind it, most often a half-clouded Dutch sky, and the light entered the room from a multitude of windows or other sources, that you don't get to see, just adding to the miracle of a mistery scene we're not supposed to comprehend. We're not required to 'get the picture' but just 'fill in the blanks' with our own fantasy or interpretation.

Now, as we move from the bright lights of a theater stage, via the bourgeous familylife of 16th century's Delft, to the dirt and grime of mineshafts, pigsties, cellars, cottages, pissoirs or cheap hotelrooms, we realise our darkest erotic fantasies work just the same. Maybe not lit by 350 kilowatts nor by the sun, but, the illusion is worth thousand realities, and can, if nurtured and fed with the best soulfood, be kept alive far longer: Just that one little candle, the dimmed red 25 watt bulb, a blueish striplight from behind, or the moving trickle that falls from the bar above down the stairs to light just that contour of a halfdressed god, pants down his ankles, leaving the most essential parts, we're so eagerly after, to just our suggestive imagination.

This striving for perfection, is as much in evidence in the appearantly casual pose of the guys in Bastilles paintings: everything is casual, while nothing really is, as his gentle brushstrokes in brown and yellow show just the suggestive essentials of round buttcheeks of a guy who keeps his used condom as trophee, hanging from his backpocket. It's mastery of detail, we also see in Marc photos, like when he picks just that one shot where one of the 3 little pigs looks hungrily at Arthur Gillet's tainted briefs. And we all know it's next to impossible to direct animals (but then, are we not used to dealing with the piggiest of human animals on stage and in bed?). Just like Vermeer, Marc does not pretend or suggests there's more than what you see, even though whe've had more than our "mouth full" with homonormality, he takes us by the hand towards what our definition of 'normal' could be anno 2017 and onwards.

It took me quite some years to realise we can blur the sharp divide between our reality and our fantasies. We don't all have to like nor indulge in each and every perversion, but it's sure smells good when you are in company with likeminded souls, who may have a completely opposite set of 'favorite things' and maybe are horrified by the idea of endulging in similar situations as depicted, when you realise they still observe them in amazement, curiosity mixed with disgust, or just plain awe, maybe mixed with simple jealousy of not daring to go there and search these things out for themselves. When reading some of Martin of Holland and Bastille's private correspondence (and maybe I should at this point give a spoiler-alert, warning, as many of us just never want to know "how did they do it" from any magician or artist) I recognise how Bastille was not only admiring Martin, but also a bit jealous, because he enacted many things that Bastille never dared to engage in for real, and maybe that is why his paintings may be just so much more suggestive and seductive that the in-your-face dutch-blunt directness of revolting and immediately repelling filth of Martins drawings, who never left any space for suggestion, and just force-fed you.

Only now I am slowly passing that deep ravine beween suggestion and reality. I may have been photographing and filming at many of Martin's parties, and indeed got close enough to be part of the full smearing and smelling experience, but never got much further. Still, now Martin can only guide us from hell, I am slowly getting to the point where I am, one morsel at a time, increasing the quantity each day, sychronising my own intestinal flora with that of one of my dearest homemates. Slowly rising above the disgust we're raised with, conquering the gag reflex, and indeed actually starting to appreciate it: beer tastes awful and bitter first time, still millions get to appreciate it later on. The same can be said of fine cheeses, fish, and loads of foods. So indeed I'm on my way to become one of that rare species that pride themselves as member of the select society of gourmet human waste masterchefs. And like all fine whine connaiseurs, getting away from the periferals, just focusing on the bare essentials, let them slowly take over your pallets, your notrils and learn to appreciate the essence, rich detail and grit without any artificial additives, like chems, booze, or a stimulating watching crowd: camera's, lights, action . . .
Ad Schuring

as this is a month long daily series, you can click here for tomorrow
don't hesitate to suck it to me with questions or suggestions / submissions.
back to the calendar