© Kurt Van Der Elst

Paradis

How many ways are there for a human being to fall: falling from grace, falling out of paradise, out of your youth, your memories, language? How can you practise yourself in mourning that has yet to come? How much sentimentality do you need to truly feel the pain of others? Hof van Eede takes not literature as its point of departure, but documentary material. Composer Thomas Smetryns bought one picture of a ballet-dancer in the 1920s, and receives an entire album: a puzzle. It appears to contain a family tragedy ‘told’ in pictures.

A white modernistic villa in the Provence (“Bienvenue dans le paradis”),
a lot of flowers (Hortensia’s). [the sound of the harp, sweet heavy wafts of honeysuckle, in the brisk cold morning]

An older man with his little boy amidst flowers. A younger woman with her little boy amidst flowers. [a whiff of French musette, harp and guitar from an open window]
Postcards written by the older man from a sanatorium to his younger wife (excuses, declarations of love, bitter reproaches) She is left alone with their little boy in the modernistic villa with flowers. [Dark piano sounds, imminent disaster]

The boy on his bike [ominous silence]. The last page of the album: six police photo’s,
a big stone on the road, the boy’s bike, the carcass of a heavy motorbike, torn and melted steel, the boy’s coat in between the boy’s bike’s mudguards [the silence continues]

Zooming in, we see a sign, tragically, ironically, ‘Le Paradis’.And an obituary, clipped from a newspaper: the boy has been killed in a tragical accident.Sixteen years old. There’s only one colour photo, from the seventies. The modernist villa is gone. The mother is the lady staring into the lense. Unsmilingly.[surprisingly soft, but sad, final chord – a long note on the violin continues a little longer]

Hof van Eede undertakes a series of exercises – études. Exercises in empathy, exploring the tipping point from serenity to sentimentality, empathy to exploitation, between documentary ‘realness’ and fiction. Where does compassion end, and sentimentality begins? And how can music help us to explore this thin line? No opera, no singing characters, perhaps a song, only one.

But music as strategy to manipulate emotions, to lift up the dry facts of life, moisten them, or even hinder them.

Paradis takes found footage, documentary material as a point of departure,
in order to say something about fiction. More exactly: how much fiction do we need to actually reveal the facts truthfully? And is it possible that our interpretation of this story in pictures reveals, in the end, indirect self-portraits? A longing for a lost paradise?

writing Wannes Gyselinck, Louise Van den Eede, Ans Van den Eede and Jeroen Van Der Ven
with Jeroen Van Der Ven and Ans Van den Eede
composition Thomas Smetryns
musicians Ensemble Besides (classical/electric guitar: Toon Callier, harp/fender rhodes: Jutta Troch, violin: Marieke Berendsen)
production LOD muziektheater & Hof van Eede
coproduction De Spil Roeselare
in collaboration with CAMPO & Arenbergschouwburg
with support from De Vlaamse Overheid, Stad Gent, Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen