Performance by Erich Weiss at Gallery Sofie Van de Velde Nieuw Zuid, during Antwerp Art Weekend.
‘ROSEBUD' is the title of the newest performance by Belgian-born artist Erich Weiss. As usual the piece can be defined as a kind of ‘multi-media collage’ containing plenty of references.
The title refers of course to the famous end scene of Orson Welles’ emblematic movie ‘Citizen Kane’, where the protagonist whispers his last word (‘Rosebud’) on his death bed. We witness how a cristal ball, containing a dreamy snowlandscape falls from his hand on the floor. The so-callled ‘Rosebud’-moment’ is traditionally defined as a transitory moment in human memory : it is realizing how we can only know whether
our image of the ‘future’ is really true when this ‘future’ suddenly takes place and becomes ‘history’ …
This scene is as enigmatic as the one we presence in Marcel Duchamp’s famous (posthumous !) installation ‘Etant donnés’. Here we witness as voyeurs through a peeping hole in a door the half naked body of a female corpse or motionless body.
It is partly hidden by the landscape, but we can witness clearly an arm reaching out holding a lamp.
The puzzling image Weiss confronts the public with in the present ‘mise-en-scene' looks like an agglomeration of these two images/ideas.
A bit like in Duchamp’s preparatory drawing (a chalk sketch that is extremely fragile, almost ephemeral, because the powder forming the thin lines of the image isn’t fixed on the page) -
the girl/actress we witness here is covered by sanddust. (An other of Duchamp’s favourite materials, used in Man Ray’s ‘Dustbreeding’ (1920), a document of The Large Glass.)
This theatrical setting is completed by a soundtrack by Weiss’ friend and collaborator Klaus Neumann, who composed a specific soundtrack for this installation.
On wireless speakers, guided by ‘bluetooth', we can listen to a dramatic track, composed of technological sounds and female voices. The poem we can listen to is a fragment of a poem of Parker Tyler dedicated to the film actress Hedy Lamarr. Weiss discovered this text on a tribute/essay about this movie-star made by Joseph Cornell, published in ‘View’ in 1941 under the title ‘The Enchanted Wanderer’.
The fact that ‘bluetooth’ is used as a device is a hint to Lamarr’s parallel and far to often forgotten career as prominent scientist. Hedy Lamarr invented indeed -in collaboration with experimental musician George Antheil- the groundbreaking new technology known as ‘Frequency Hopping’. Her invention is the origin of further developments like GPS or mobile phones.
But leaving apart all these possible connotations and details, what we witness is a powerful visual poem, erotic and emotional but that also sets the mind and our senses in motion.