Counter Composed

This performance takes place inside the installation Counter Composition with Pyramids, which consists of an area of 36 m2 delimited by four pyramidal corners 70 cm high. The audience is placed at its centre and surrounded by four singers⁠—one behind each corner⁠—who interpret an original score designed to create a quadraphonic effect. At the same time, an actress carries on the dramatic action by interacting with the voices and the audience from the top of the pyramids. This is achieved through silent movements which evoke the content of a free verse poem that serves as the dramatic text of the play.

Graphical Projection of Counter Composition with Pyramids (2017)

Counter Composed furthers the work on Theo van Doesburg’s legacy that started with Counter Composition with Pyramids in 2017. Following the Dutch artist, counter compositions are unique in that they manifest the ‘time-space tension of colour, line or plane’ (Van Doesburg 1927)1 in ways that oppose stillness and rigidity. The use of the installation as a stage adds to the dynamics of diagonal planes the colour dissonance of a lighting plan that follows the chromatic scheme of Van Doesburg’s Counter Composition V (1924)—the painting on which it is based.

Study for Van Doesburg’s Counter Composition V

Such dissonance is the guiding principle of the performance: the singers and the actress represent the colours on stage and the tension between them. This is done, however, in light of a single thought, that society is also a counter composition which relies on the tension of its elements to avoid stagnation. Counter Composed reflects on the social in this metaphorical vein. But what sort of tension is that? Human relations are theatrically explored, in time and space, to map possible modes of relating to the ‘other’ in terms of positive or negative dispositions to share and interact. Through abstraction in performance, this work aims to deliver a mixture of simplicity and suggestiveness to summon the raw substance of social life.

This work originated in the context of The Involved Stage project.

  1. Theo van Doesburg “Painting and Sculpture: Elementarism (Fragment of a Manifesto)” (1927)