Lam Gods - Milo Rau
As a tourist attraction it draws people to Ghent from all over the world. Whenever French or German troops marched into Belgium they took it with them. And The Monuments Men had to track it down. It’s the Ghent Altarpiece by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, who lived in the 15th century.
Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, martyrs and angels. The motifs are Christian and spiritual. But the faces of the figures are realistic, they are the faces of Ghent. The Van Eyck brothers immortalised their patrons and clients, as well as their neighbours and colleagues. This meant that one of the first works of realistic modern art was simultaneously documentary and mythical, ordinary and universal. Milo Rau has been engaged in the ‘theatre of the real’ for a decade. Just like the Van Eyck brothers in their day, he combines the everyday with the spiritual. Just as the altarpiece consists of several overlapping layers, just as the real becomes mixed with the symbolic, the people of Ghent will talk about their life on stage. In a casting session lasting several months, which will be filmed, this project plunges into the here and now of a city’s community: who is Ghent’s Cain, who is its Abel? Who plays Adam and who Eve? Who are the martyrs of the 21st century? The crusaders and the righteous judges? The patrons? What do they tell us about the themes of this painting, about original sin and human suffering, about faith and tragedy, death and salvation? In the reconstruction of the Ghent Altarpiece onstage, a panorama of our present world emerges, between tradition and an uncertain future – and at the same time, a manifesto for the significance of art and spirituality in a human life.
The performative form of a performance forces a director to make a selection, because time and space are limited.
In the context of The Ghent Altarpiece we created a website, based on the same democratic principle as the castings: we invite everyone to tell their story, to get inspired by the figures on the altarpiece, and, to contribute to a contemporary interpretation of the figures depicted on the Ghent Altarpiece.
We will monitor the stories but not censor them. Anyone can react to everyone and all stories can be watched at any time. What is your connection with The Ghent Altarpiece? How do you fill in Mary, or God? Create your own story.
In the reconstruction of the Ghent Altarpiece on stage, a panorama of our present world emerges and at the same time a manifesto for art and spirituality in a human life.
Dutch spoken with English surtitles
This performance contains scenes of nudity, a video with the killing of a sheep and a video with close images of a woman giving birth.