September 11th (thursday) September 12th (friday) September 13th (saturday)
'Verdensteatret' Theater, 60 minutes
@ Festival Bar
626 North 5th Street
(corner of 5th + Fairmount)
10pm each night
$25 general admission
$15 for bowerbird members *sign up for the email list
to find out how to get this discount* Buy tickets here
"…louder stands as an ultimate artistic reflection of modern times, and a voyage through theatre technology and cultural history which pulls at the nervous system of the world…"
–Elin Høyland, Morgenbladet, Norway
One of Europe’s most innovative contemporary arts groups, Oslo-based Verdensteatret will bring audiences into a highly experimental audiovisual installation that goes far beyond the boundaries of conventional performance. Last winter, Verdensteatret sailed up the Mekong Delta, the same river that plays the veins and arteries around the heart of darkness in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Inspired by their journey, louder is a symphonic collage of music and visual art: massive video projections of the Vietnamese countryside play as Soviet-era megaphones hurl sound in all directions. Gaping puppet jaws chase flocks of small metal figures across the room. An enormous mechanical spider looms over the scene. Verdensteatret uses sculptural scenography, mesmerizing generators of sound, and technological relics of a bygone era to create a spectacular universe that unites concert, art, and theate.
Concept, Design, and Direction: Asle Nilsen, Lisbeth J. Bodd, Håkon Lindbäck, Piotr Pajchel, Ali Djabbary, Marius Kjos, Mara Oldenburg, Petter Steen, Christian Blom, Bergmund Waal Skaslien, Elisabeth Gmeiner, Hai Nguyen Dinh, Christina Peios, Rune Madsen, Trond Lossius Pajchel.
The production of louder was made possible in part by support from Arts Council Norway and The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Excerpts from FLOTSAM OF THE FUTURE, an essay on the works of Verdensteatret
by Jon Refsdal Moe
Verdensteatret consists of video artists, computer animators, sound engineers, musicians, artists and a painter – among others. They develop their work in a ‘flat structure’ – or, as they themselves explain, ‘everyone interferes with everything’. In this way they search for a form that includes many means of expression and despite the fact that it and involves a good dose of quarrelling it can be experienced or understood as ‘integrated’. Video pictures are processed with distorting mirrors and human voices are digitalised, synthetic elements are turned into organic ones, and vice versa. One of Verdensteatret’s favourite metaphors is that ‘the various elements should bleed into one another’, so that every dramatic element is linked to the others in so many different ways that we cannot tell where one ends and the other begins. Thus a vast game of references is set in motion, without presenting any clear meanings – instead an associative space is created where infinite numbers of new opinions can arise and disappear.
Verdensteatret does not present plots, or concepts that have to be explained, or structures to be unravelled. Their work is not based on a truth or an urtext that has to be interpreted, and it therefore has more in common with concerts, or with technical marvels. It is not Verdensteatret that produces the art, it is the machine. They simply make it work.
The name ‘Verdensteatret’ means ‘Theatre of the World’, but you should immediately cast aside thoughts of the worn-out metaphor that says ‘all the world’s a stage’ – even though it is just that. Think instead of the old cinemas from the early days of film, where people crowded in to be blinded by pictures they had never seen before, and by the wonderful technology that gave them these pictures. If we opened the door to one of these picture palaces, we would find machinery rusting away, and we might perhaps smile sadly at the fascination for things that once were new and spectacular. Verdensteatret takes us into such spaces and fills them with its own futuristic dream – samplers, Powerbooks and video projectors, technology that we may find fascinating now, but which will end up on the scrap heap after not too long. By combining them to form a rusty shadow theatre, Verdensteatret shows us that our own futuristic fantasies are also about to disappear – but that they will continue telling those, too.
louder is inspired by a journey. The landscape of the Mekong delta has achieved an almost mythical status in contemporaryhistory, first through news reports, and perhaps most of all through Francis Ford Coppola’s doomsday film scenario from 1978.Last winter, Verdensteatret sailed up the same river that in Apocalypse Now plays the veins and arteries around the heart of darkness.What they experienced there is neither very clear, nor very important, but the journey beats like a pulse throughout the performance. If Verdensteatret wanted to be obvious, they could have called the piece closer. Or darker. Where Concert for Greenland introduced us to a finely-tuned machinery, a space where we could sit and watch from a distance, louder takes us inside the machinery. Gone is the comforting frame of an artwork. There is no longer a stage. Instead we enter a room full of chaos. A room that threatens to fall apart before our eyes. In louder, chance is not tempered by finely-tuned mechanics – here total dissolution and disorder are a genuine and constant possibility.You may not recognise Verdensteatret as theatre, and they themselves compare their work to machines and musico-spatial compositions. They have perhaps most in common with installation artists such as Christian Boltanski, who works in the same way with shadows, history and disappearances.
Concert, installation, machine: Verdensteatret works with found stories and laptops to create what they describe as a “rusty shadow theatre.” Synthetic expressions become organic, organic becomes synthetic. And because they see art as something that is created in the moment it vanishes, their multi-layered games of reference work with the idea of disappearance as appearance. Verdensteatret are artists from different art-fields who work together and make stage productions and other art-related projects. The projects of the group are a collaborative process bridging the gap between artistic borders. The works are shown in many different contexts and art-venues, both in Norway and abroad. Verdensteatret is based in Oslo, Norway and was founded by Lisbeth J. Bodd and Asle Nilsen in 1986. The artistic board consists of four artists: Lisbeth J. Bodd, Asle Nilsen, Håkon Lindbäck, and Piotr Pajchel.