Solidarity and National Mourning…
After the recent lockdown of Brussels five months ago, we presented a revival of Medúlla, a project that was developed at La Monnaie in early 2015, right after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Yet again, today, we are confronted with themes that are central to this work. Medúlla, after all, is based on Björk’s album with the same name, with which the Icelandic artist wished to provide a response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Regrettably, this situation of intolerance, increasing radicalism and especially fear has insidiously become a part of our daily life. Fear of the unknown, of what we can’t see, of what we can’t comprehend, of that which we can’t control. A fear to live with the threat of a blind form of terror that wants to strike at everything we hold dear: our safety, our freedom, our privacy, our social networks, our recreation, our sense of humor, and even our lives.
Fear, and the manner with which we can arm ourselves against it, are the theme of the recently announced new season 16/17.
March 22 has become a particularly dark day for our country. What should have been the beginning of a new spring turned into hell, with an untold amount of human suffering. It’s appropriate to express our condolences to all who have lost loved ones or friends in these cowardly attacks. It’s also appropriate to express solidarity on this national day of mourning that was declared by our government.
However, it is up to the cultural sector to deliver and antidote to these barbaric facts. The culprits of the cowardly attacks desire a total negation of our culture, our history, our knowledge, our tolerance, our openness. The moral basis for a common European heritage.
We owe it to ourselves to resist this mental darkness with vehemence. Cultural institutions can and must take the lead for three concrete reasons.
Firstly, they are a beacon of inspiration and creativity: two elements that form a natural antidote against intolerance. Education and culture are there to increase our awareness of the society in which we live and to make our society, through our individual talents, stronger, more coherent, and more empathetic. The work that La Monnaie produces, is in the end a statement against the barbarity of those who seek to destroy our common cultural achievements, and thereby our society as a whole. The core of our cultural mission seems more relevant than ever: instead of closing our doors, we will throw them wide-open in other to fulfil the task, that it may be possible for people to meet each other and tell and share their stories.
In addition to pursuing social cohesion, the ultimate goal of a cultural institute is to offer ‘food for the soul’. More than ever, they must be convinced of their role as the bearer of added value. People need this more than ever. Where religion pits humans against each other, culture brings humans together and the sharing of collective stories gives them a positive, experienced-based, message that they can propagate.
Finally, a third reason is the fact that the experience that we have in our working practice at La Monnaie nothing but strengthens our conviction that there is an alternative. At La Monnaie, 38 different nationalities, cultures, and languages work together to be able to get all productions on scene. Per definition, we are multicultural and we work together regardless of ethnicity, gender, religious or philosophical beliefs, and social status. By standing closely side-by-side in these moments, we can clear up the darkness and insecurity surrounding us.
If it was up to us starting tomorrow. But we want to remain realistic. And that means giving time to all to come to terms with the events, while at the same time offering hope for a better future where there is no place for barbarity and intolerance.
We will then continue our mission and welcome you are at our performances. Because we continue to believe in our constructive messages and keep resisting those who would undermine us.