Tramway, Glasgow, Thu 24 - Sat 26 May


Literally translated as Songs on the Death of Children, the title of French performance artist Gisèle Vienne’s latest piece has a long artistic history. It first appeared as a collection of 425 poems by German poet Freidrich Rückert in 1834 after the separate deaths of two of his children. 70 years later, five of those poems were set to an orchestral song cycle by Gustav Mahler.

Bringing to Scotland her latest collaboration with American novelist Dennis Cooper, Kindertotenlieder is an exploration of morbid fantasies and their relations to reality, owing much inspiration to the bleak yet passionate works of Rückert and Mahler. “Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder is of strong influence to the piece with its sorrowful and funereal character,” Vienne explains. “Both Mahler’s piece and our work are aesthetical experiences, bringing together sorrow and pleasure in a traditional, romantic way.”

In her sinister trademark style, Vienne’s troupe of dancers and musicians will take to the Tramway’s stage with life-sized dolls in a performance inspired by traditional European demonic traditions, set to a menacing score by Stephen O’Malley and Peter Rehberg. “Kindertotenlieder is the result of a long dialogue between different artists,” says Vienne. “It examines relations between contemporary culture and their connections to romanticism. I wanted to make that relation obvious in the title.”

(Sam Butler)

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