opstelling van het werk bij het Landgoed Nardinclant (2021)











ET IN ARCADIA - het lied van Helena Neaira


een video-installatie/video-sculptuur (2021)


De afbeelding links toont de try-out van het werk zoals dat van 13 september tot 24 oktober 2021 op het Landgoed Nardinclant-Amsterdam Garden in Laren te zien was, als onderdeel van de groepstentoonstelling Nature and Aesthetics, Redefined. Daarbij waren achttien werken van tien deelnemers verspreid in en rond de monumentale tuin van het landgoed opgesteld.

Mijn video-installatie, die zich in de paardenstal van het landgoed - tegenwoordig een houtopslagplaats - bevond, bestond uit twee videoschermen en de aardenwerken larnax, die al eens eerder is getoond en nu in een ander licht werd gezet.

Het werk is tevens een voorstudie voor het kleinschalige muziektheaterstuk Et in Arcadia - Elissa's gloed, waarvan het concept en de fantasie in 2022 in boekvorm is verschenen.

> klik hier voor een videoschets van het werk



Brief description of the work

ET IN ARCADIA - Helena Neaira’s song is a two-channel video-installation presented in a darkened space with a theatrical prop between two flat video screens. Both videos can also be shown by video projection, depending on the space where the installation is to be seen.
One screen is in ‘portrait’ position, the other one in ‘landscape’ position. The height of both screens, one screen 45-degree rotated, is more or less equal.
Both screens are attached next (but not too close) to a corner between two walls. The 45-degree rotated one to the left of the corner, the other (bigger) one to the right.
The bigger one has a horizontally tripartite image. So the images of the two screens (one to the left, three to the right) are more or less equal.



The video installation / video sculpture depicts the quest of Helena Neaira for Palinurus’ dead body after she had a vision of his death. She wanders from Sicily to Cumae, the site where Palinurus started his retreat, then to Velia, the site to whichPalinurus’ dead body was brought by dolphins and where he had been buried near the cape, and finally to Scylla, the site where the helmsman actually was killed. After the crime the sea monster was turned by Palinurus’ tutelary deity Hecate and her sisters Nemesis and the Fates into a rock.

The installation contains also an object or props on the floor next to (not in) the corner between the two screens. Object and/or props are a little bit illuminated by a softened spotlight.
In principle the object is an earthenware larnax (65x43x43cm), made after the burial clay larnax (length 74cm) in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum from the Middle Minoan period (2000-1700 BC). I made it in an artist residency for ceramic art and design in Le Maupas (France) especially for my works in progress Et in Arcadia and Et in Utopia.



The videos are played in a loop. The left, 45-degree rotation one is mute and has a duration of 29 minutes; it restarts immediately when it has come to its end. The right video with the tripartite image and sound has a duration of 10 minutes without end credits. It restarts immediately after the end of the credits.




Brief description of the context and content of the work

‘How do we relate to the gaps in a story, a history, a myth? Do we fill them with our personal speculations? Do we try to sense their edges and listen to their echo?’ In an international cross-departmental project, spring 2021, students from Sandberg Institute, the University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Conservatory were invited to create digital operatic shorts through a process of translation, reworking, undoing or abandoning of Palinuro, a video artwork by me as a multimedia artist, inspired by the myth of Palinurus as it is told in the Book V and VI of Virgil’s Aeneid. Central in the project were the myth and my speculative approach.

The students were encouraged to find their own relationship to questions as: ‘where lie the gaps in our imagination and how do we deal with them? How does our understanding of our current time allow us to imagine a future, a past or a different present? And what could we learn from De Koning’s work as a historic work of speculative art?’ (All questions are quoted from the project’s open call.) Whereas my own speculative approach as elaborated in my closet drama The C of Scylla - a further elaboration of my own Palinurus myth - had been the initial trigger for the idea of the project, the video artwork Palinuro from 1989 has been taken as the jumping off point for the cross-departmental project.

In my project The C of Scylla - a platonic phantasy, started in 2009 as a closet drama - I give my own answer to those questions by using the common Dido-motive in a personal, ‘opposite’ way: Helena Neaira, the abducted daughter of Helen of Sparta and Troy as Palinurus’ Dido. When he deserted his post and left the ship, Palinurus had made his aim to rescue Helena Neaira of sexual slavery on Sicily, as Aeneas had designated her as priestess of his mother Aphrodite in the temple to be built for her after leaving Sicily to continue his mission to Italy. In spite of his great ability as Aeneas’ chief helmsman, Palinurus was killed by the sea monster Scylla on his way back to her. (NB this whole story is based on my own research into a whole range of ‘problems’ around the Aeneid - anachronisms, contradictions, incongruities, omissions etc. - and has to be seen as a personal myth, a myth invented by myself and sometimes ‘prompted by the Muses’.)

For myself the cross-departmental project has led to a spin-off of my idea about a cyclical artwork, with the collective title Et in Arcadia. Within that frame the two channel video installation Helena Neaira’s song can be considered as a digital operatic short for my work in progress for a (chamber) opera, going by the name Et in Arcadia, Elissa's glow.


ET IN ARCADIA - Helena Neaira’s song (2021)
Concept and script: Nol de Koning
Camera: Louk Vreeswijk, Nol de Koning, found footage
Editing: Nol de Koning
Post-production: Nol de Koning / Antrum Book & AB Productions, Amsterdam
Music: Janet Baker sings Haendel - Luigi Rossi La Lyra d’Orfeo; C. Pluhar, L’Arpeggiata and V. Gens


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