THE HOLLAND FESTIVAL 2021 in Amsterdam

3rd – 27th June.

This year’s associate artists are American-Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Franco-Austrian theater-maker Gisèle Vienne – standout artists with a wide range of interests, as evidenced by their collaborations with Hollywood directors, techno artists, visual artists and rock bands. During the festival, both their own work can be seen, work by makers with whom they feel a connection and performances that are thematically related to those of the associate artists. 

Theme: What makes humans?
The work of the associate artists focuses on topics such as (the perception of) time and the way in which man is influenced by the world and its environment – and how man himself influences that world. The festival theme of Holland Festival 2021 is therefore: What makes people? The festival artists approach the theme from various angles. What is the influence of humans on nature? How do social, human constructions and systems such as time and identity arise?

In Maison Mère, for example, performance artist Phia Ménard examines the buildings of man in a powerful, poetic way by single-handedly building a Greek temple made of cardboard. And Sakamoto works with media artist Daito Manabe for Sensing Streamselectromagnetic waves visible and audible, exposing an invisible but indispensable infrastructure. 

Non-linear time
In collaboration with multidisciplinary artist Shiro Takatani, Sakamoto is performing the new, unconventional opera TIME . In this he looks for ways to let go of our linear conception of time and rhythm. TIMEis inspired by the traditional Japanese theater form Mugen Noh and its magical elements. Sakamoto asks questions about the phenomenon of time and the relationship between man and nature. Sakamoto: ‘We live and we die. And then our body becomes part of the next life. That is saṃsāra, the life cycle of beings on this planet. In dreams that time does not run linearly, everything coincides. ‘ 

Van Vienne’s latest production L’Étang , based on the story of the same name by Swiss writer Robert Walser and performed by Adèle Haenel (known for the film Portrait de la Jeune Fille en Feu ) and Ruth Vega Fernandez ( Kiss me ). L’Étangis a layered and emotional family drama. The work stretches time by creating an experience that stands between the real and the imagined. Vienne, for example, investigates complicated family relationships. She does not shy away from the dark recesses of man.

The desire to be different
From Vienne, the festival also shows Kindertotenlieder . A boy attends his own funeral and his mind enters into a dialogue with another adolescent. What happened? How did he die? Vienne’s work wants to expose how identity arises as a result of social pressure and conventions. With Kindertotenliedershe created a dream reality full of references to eerily beautiful fairy tales and traditions, such as the pagan cult of the Perchten in Austria. She analyzes and criticizes the straightjacket in which a person, especially as a teenager, ends up.  Marleen Scholten’s

monologue La codista is based on the real story of Giovanni Cafaro, a man who loses his job and then queues up for others for a fee. The play is about the fear many have of losing time and the desire to be someone else at times.

Nature and listening
Sakamoto makes extensive use of sounds from nature in his work and attaches great importance to attentive listening. That nature offers ample opportunity to open up the senses, as shown by artists Massimo Furlan and Claire de Ribaupierre. With Dans la Forêt they take the audience into the forest to fully immerse themselves in nature. The distance between man and nature, which has already caused a lot of damage to the world, is thus temporarily removed. 

The installation Fremdkörper by performance duo Boogaerdt / VanderSchoot tries to bridge the distance between body and mind. Through a sleeping ritual, in which the audience is sent on a journey of exploration into the subconscious, they want to restore the bond of humans with the earth and with themselves. 

The complex interaction between man and nature comes to the fore in several performances. In the multidisciplinary performance The Planet – A Lament by Indonesian director Garin Nugroho, we see how a single survivor in the aftermath of a tsunami is on a mission to save life on Earth. The opera Ine Aya ‘ by the Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah and the Dutch librettist and director Miranda Lakerveld is about the deforestation on Kalimantan, which is partly caused by the creation of palm oil plantations. They are based on the Kayan epic Takna ‘Lawe’ and Richard Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen– two classic works, one from Eastern and one from Western culture, in which a goddess of the earth appears. 

Context and accessibility
In an extensive online context program , including podcast introductions in collaboration with De Groene Amsterdammer, the main program is explored in depth by examining important festival topics and themes. This year, there will be collaboration with De Balie and Melkweg, among others. Inspired by the many film scores by Sakamoto, Eye Filmmuseum presents a program dedicated to film music. This year the festival is present at new locations in and outside Amsterdam, such as with the track of short acts in Short Circuit in De School, Fremdkörper at Het HEM in Zaandam and Dans la Forê the Smithuyserbos near Hilversum. 

Holland Festival in corona time
As an ‘artist-driven’ festival, the Holland Festival has deliberately chosen to organize a live festival in 2021 in the belief that it is important that the audience and performers can share a physical experience. The programming is set up in such a way that all productions can also take place with small audience numbers. The protocols of the theaters and concert halls with which the festival collaborates are used. The conditions that apply to the corona measures, as they will apply during the festival, apply to the entire program and to ticket sales. 

In total, the Holland Festival presents 39 productions (including context program) spread over 25 days, including 10 world premieres, and 12 Dutch premieres. 

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