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Kunstraum exhibitions

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Nils Alix-Tabeling
Le Bétyle d’Ail
19 January – 22 February 2019


– Download the Le Bétyle d’Ail libretto text –

Kunstraum’s year-programme opens with Nils Alix-Tabeling’s Le Bétyle d’Ail, a performance over two nights followed by an exhibition of its sculptural and scenic remainders alongside video documentation. Le Bétyle d’Ail merges the format of an operetta with that of traditional Japanese Kabuki theatre, the performance featuring two protagonists – one played by an actor and the other by an inanimate sculpture, the soundtrack depicting the unfolding perceptions of both.

Inspired by Marcel Aymé’s novel ‘La Vouivre’, the script depicts the love relationship between a mythical creature from French pagan folklore, and a macabre sculpture of a fallen medieval soldier. Together both characters compose one body, the rotten soldier merging with and digesting the slithery creature, her dress forming her lair and her lair composed of his reorganised body parts. The living dead and the immortal fairy engage in a lighthearted conversation on the parameters of their mutual immortality.

The operetta unfolds thematics of sexuality, desire and frivolity, seen here as a positive and critical notion, as opposed to dogmatic understandings of these terms. The piece salutes queer authors like Sidonie Gabrielle Colette and Paul Verlaine in a grotesque and macabre celebration of the human body in its glorious grossness and chthonic drives toward their inner cavities, seen as spaces of merging together and organic conversations.

Tabeling takes the traditional Kabuki role of a kuroko within the operetta, serving as a visible stage hand, his role  to accentuate the performance’s delivery, manually adjusting the lighting and heightening the magical aura of the performance.

Le Bétyle d’Ail was first performed in Tabeling’s apartment during Art Brussels 2018. It was commissioned and curated by Komplot, Brussels with support from Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles & Ville de Bruxelles/Stad Brussel. The piece is acted by Andrea Baglione, with music by Mathieu Levet.