Storyboard for Fanfare, Calme & Volupté, 2007
The video installation Fanfare, Calme & Volupte is based on a performance by a brass band and corps of majorettes. 'Musicians and majorettes, seemingly dressed up for a public performance, are sound asleep. They have their brass instruments with them, but their drowsiness prevents them from playing. Time is suspended in this 'tableau vivant' and the
tiniest gesture of one of the sleeping majorettes becomes an event, creating a tension in the image that contrasts with its picturesque composition. On the flatscreen-monitor one can see the total view of the scene, while on
the projection details of that same scene appear.' This working-drawing illustrates the calculated character of Theys's video pieces, and also how the final work differs from the preliminary study. In the final version there is less physical contact between the personages, they barely support each other, they don't form a tangle as on the drawing. The director
has meanwhile changed his mind and breaks with the usual pyramidal composition, horizontality predominates in the central portion, the sitting musicians comprise two red vertical margins that prop up the white-draped majorettes. The video image is more tranquil as to composition than the drawing, and also perhaps more emphasizes the difference between the men and the women. Koen Theys himself says: As a visual artist I'm interested in creating that one image that contains all the tension, where others need a whole story to achieve it. (...) Precisely due to its stillness, each slight movement that occurs there becomes a complete event.' All this harks back to the 19th century popular theatre that evoked paintings with tableaux vivants of immobile actors. Perhaps Theys's videos, where the borders between the media blur, play a comparable role as the tableau vivant in the development of the modern theatre. 'The tableau vivant inaugurates a dramaturgy describing social environments, grabbing life
in its everyday reality and giving of man an ensemble of pathetic images using genre paintings. The stillness, as with Greuze, is meant to contain the germ of movement.'
Patrice Pavis – catalogue ‘The Mind of the Artist’