Jasna Veličković - Fiasco
for three voices
six old detuned pianos,
spinet and organetto
commissioned by the Leiden University
premiered June 2, 2005
430th anniversary of the University of Leiden
On the occasion of the four hundred thirtieth anniversary of the University of Leiden, a suggestion was made that the person and achievements of the Dutch artist Humbert de Superville (1770–1849) should be the framework for a musical-theatrical project performed in the edifice of a former wool factory in the Scheltema complex in Leiden. The project coordinator was a theatrical artist Paul Koek.
Superville wrote the Essay on Unconditional Signs in Art, a utopian text where he developed a cognitive theory of visual signs. The need for universality, which Superville strived for almost grotesquely, determined Jasna Veličković’s choice of the ensemble. She decided to put six second-hand, old, detuned pianos in the core...Six heterogeneous and detuned pianos show only the potential which, through the unification of the ununifiable and misaligned, becomes an impossibility... One is shown as many.
If the impossibility of Superville’s universalism is shown through piano sound, three different characters, three female singers dressed in red, white and black represent the transposition of Superville’s theory to the work’s expressive means. The fact that the choice of the singers was guided by their racial diversity – one was Caucasian (and dressed in white), another African (and dressed in black), and the third one Asian (and dressed in red) – brings a theatre-like component, within the context of the work, to the questions of art’s political correctness in the age of globalism.
click for the full text by J. Novak