Wednesday, 6 January 2010

XENON: an exploded opera


XENON expands my work in the areas of performance art, music and design, and I think of it as a response to seminal figures of 20th-Century music, John Cage and Pierre Boulez; Cage regarded opera an anathema whereas Boulez has suggested repeatedly that ‘the most elegant solution to the problem of opera is to blow up all opera houses’, explaining that ‘opera is the area before all others in which things have stood still.’ Boulez’s idea is intriguing, only the suggestion is based on a fundamental misplacement of intention: blowing up a building would not necessarily result in the termination or change of an entire genre of music, and there are operas which are regularly performed outdoors or in regular concert halls.

In XENON I take Boulez’s suggested act of ‘blowing up’ but apply it on the actual cause of his reaction: the opera. Therefore, I propose a neologism for XENON, that is an ‘exploded opera’.

I consider opera a super-genre in that it embraces many art-forms: music, performance, design, poetry, architecture, acoustics, visual art etc. In traditional opera, these art-forms usually coincide on stage during the performance of the work. XENON takes the shape of an ‘exploded opera’ featuring elements of an operatic performance, which however, do not take place simultaneously or at the same location – rather, its various elements are blown up, suspended. A deconstructed narrative, interdisciplinary music concerts, performance art events, video installations as well as elements of costume and set design are presented in an ‘exploded’, fragmentary form and across various locations, in concert venues, outdoors and online. The different specialisations and audiences of the festivals which host the project are also factors which point toward such a solution.

While the overall ‘shape’ of the work, referencing the shape of an explosion, might be relatively easy to imagine and determine for each of the festivals hosting the project, the content and relationships between the theme of the work and its form are complex.

This blog aims to present my work and ideas in process, and encourage a dialogue between the festivals and anyone interested in the project.

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