SONG OF MY LAND
by Koen and Frank Theys
The Rhinegold and The Valkyrie are the first two parts of Belgian artists Koen and Frank Theys' four-part epic Song of My Land, an inventive and visually stunning video adaptation of Richard Wagner’s operas Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal.
Song of my Land is not a videotaped version of a theatrical production. Rather, the artists have taken freely from both operas to create their own complex statement about contemporary culture and values. Wagner's music remains at the heart of the piece, and just as he used certain instruments and melodies to accompany specific characters and situations, the Theys have developed pictorial motifs for the different characters and events. In this version, however, the Ring has been replaced by the television image. Instead of forging the Rhinegold into a ring, the dwarf Alberich takes the video noise and discovers that he can form images. His possession of the source of electronic image-making enables him to reproduce reality and have power over the world.
Working with a low budget, simple props and a small cast, the Theys have made clever and efficient use of video effects to generate enough images from limited basic material to unfold the narrative. With wit and intelligence they have exploited video's inherent properties to fashion a work which could exist in no other medium and no other time.
JoAnn Hanley – AMERICAN MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE, New York
Presstext - 03.03.1989