Single-channel video installation

HD 16:9

Colour

Non-spoken

13'49"

 

In the same way as in Theys' previous work, i.e., One of Us (2015), the actors are once again presented as a group of naively dressed, ancient biblical figures. They occur to us, perhaps unintentionally but nonetheless, as mocking caricatures, as we often see in popular parades such as the famous Processions of the Holy Blood in Flanders, Belgium.

 

The work stems from a performance that Koen Theys had set up in the Brussels art space Etablissement d'en face, where he simultaneously captured the images for this video production. The white gallery space was jam-packed with amateur actors who were positioned in successive rows which filled the room from wall to wall. They were all ordered to take place on a steep stand, one that reached so high that the actors in the last row almost touched the ceiling. To magnify and to theatricalise their facial expressions, each of them was treated with an excessive amount of make-up.


We see both men, women and children who portray a multitude of characters from just as many biblical stories. They all stare quietly ahead or down, nothing else. They are just there. You could claim that the group, a supposed procession, had become an audience, a gathering compelled to maintain its position like guardsmen do, not any longer to be perceived, but to perceive. However, their presence as a group is too peculiar and too extraordinary to be classified under the term 'audience'.


The tragicomic tension that gradually develops in the course of the film is fuelled by the subtle observations Theys manages to make in his close-ups. Sporadically - since the actors barely move during the performance - we see the characters scratching their nose or biting their lip; clinging to their props, brave or bored. And then, eventually, a forlorn glance manifests itself in the eyes of these 'god-fearing worshipers', as if they finally come to understand, their glorious expectations are in vain. Whatever they may be, they will not see the light of day.

 

As a conclusion, one could argue that Koen Theys appoints us as the external observers of an 'introspective' procession, a halted parade that threatens to collapse due to its standstill. And by forcing us into this position, however contradictory it may sound, he effectively makes us the spectators of a spectacular non-spectacle.

 

The film was screened or exhibited at:

 

  • Objectif Exhibitions (BE) 19 Dec 2015

  • Centre for Contemporary Art, Brussels (BE) 2015

  • Escautville Office / Antwerp Art Weekend, Antwerp (BE) 2019

Credits:

 

  • Produced by Escautville

  • Executive Producer: Vincent Stroep

  • Coproduced by Etablissements d’en Face

  • With the support of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF)

 

  • With: The Procession of the Holy Blood of Meigem

  • Camera, Editing: Koen Theys

  • Light: Gogolplex

  • Make-Up: Jean-Paul Pollet

  • Set Photography: Elly Strik

 

  • Special thanks to Ulrike Lindmayr, Harald Thys & Jos De Gruyter, Etienne Wynants​