Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (2022) '10
An Intriguing Blend of Presence and Interaction
Live art is a form of art that involves the live presence of the artist and the interaction with the audience. It can be provocative, challenging, and sometimes controversial. One of the performance art projects that caught my attention was the one by Elias Kirsche, a Swiss artist who re-enacted and reinterpreted Edouard Manet’s famous painting “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” (1863) in a public park in Winterthur, Switzerland.
Edouard Manet’s “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe”: A Provocative Masterpiece
The painting depicts a picnic scene with two clothed men and two nude women in a natural setting. It caused a scandal when it was first exhibited, as it broke the conventions of academic painting and challenged the norms of society. The painting is considered a masterpiece of modern art, as it influenced many artists such as Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, and Pablo Picasso.
Dreamworld 360°: The Immersive Artist-in-Residence Program
The performance was part of Kirsche’s artist-in-residence program “Dreamworld 360°”. Which aimed to create immersive and participatory experiences for the public. The performance was filmed by Thomas Zollinger, a performance artist who specializes in naked installations. The director of photography and editor was Philemon Mukarno, an Indonesian-Dutch composer and performer who works with sound, movement, and visual arts.
Elias Kirsche’s Performance Art Project: A Modern Reenactment
Three Parts of Kirsche’s Performance Art: Reenactment, Contemporary Interpretation, and Erotic Utopia:
1. The artwork by French painter Édouard Manet „Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe“ (1863), re-enacted
2. How would you change the painting according to the circumstances of our time spirit (2022)?
3. „What could an erotic utopia look like under the given conditions?
The Live Tableau Vivant: Bringing Manet’s Painting to Life
It began with a tableau vivant of the painting. With four actors posing in the same positions as the original characters. Then, the painting came to life, as a fifth actor, a nude nymph, emerged from behind a tree and joined the group. The woman in white from the painting welcomed her and started to touch her. They moved to the group, where another woman was already naked. They began to caress and kiss each other tenderly and passionately. The scene became more intense, as the actors explored their sexuality and intimacy in front of the audience and the camera.
Challenging Boundaries: Art, Life, Eroticism, and Pornography
The meaning of this performance was to question the boundaries between art and life, between public and private. And between eroticism and pornography. It was also to celebrate the beauty and diversity of human bodies. Expressions, as well as to challenge the stereotypes and taboos that surround nudity and sexuality. The performance was a tribute to Manet’s painting. But also a reinterpretation of it according to the contemporary context and sensibility.
Making Love in Public: A Daring and Thought-Provoking Performance Art
This action was a daring and innovative example of making love in a public park as a form of performance art. It was not only a spectacle for the eyes but also a stimulus for the mind and the emotions. It invited the audience to reflect on their own views and feelings about nudity, sexuality, and art. It also offered a glimpse into a possible erotic utopia. People can freely express their love and desire without fear or shame.