La Monnaie was the backdrop of my youthArne Quinze
What is your first memory of la Monnaie?
Arne Quinze (conceptual artist): My connection to la Monnaie goes back to the eighties. I remember giving it my best on la Monnaie Square with other hip-hop artists and break dancers. Even then the colossal building behind us, looked like a true monument. I still recall, as a 14-year-old, wondering what went on behind those doors. In a way, la Monnaie was the backdrop of my youth.
Why is la Monnaie so special to you?
Without a doubt it is the openness and the approach of la Monnaie. I’ve always felt right at home here because the people here dare to take risks and have a lot of guts. It takes a lot of courage to bring out cutting-edge performances and that triggers me, as an artist.
When were you last moved to tears by a concert or an opera?
It was a while back, but I remember being deeply moved when I saw the extremely fine needles falling through the cube in Matsukaze. That image captured the sense of unparalleled beauty in a very poetic manner. And it really moved me. Actually, music always moves me. When I am working, I use music to get into a certain state of mind. I always listen to opera, and often loudly too, when I need to be carried away in a colour palette or when I’m seeking depth in my paintings or other works.
As an artist, how do you view an opera house like la Monnaie?
I compare la Monnaie to a wild garden where different plants bloom. This house is home to many creative people, who each in their own field create things. The strength of la Monnaie, or the beauty of the garden, is attributed to the symbiosis of these different people.
What is the role of culture in our society in this day and age?
I’m a strong advocate for extending culture outside of the culture houses. La Monnaie, for example, shouldn’t be bound by its four walls but should live on outside of them. It should bring opera to the streets and squares of Brussels and preferably far beyond. The same goes for other cultural organisations. Only then will you be able to present the other 99% of the population with the beauty of culture. Opera isn’t merely created for opera lovers; it is created for all people who want to experience beauty.
Is there a specific role you would love to play?
I’ve always dreamed of having a great voice. I truly admire singers. Whenever I feel the powerful wave, they cast over the room, I envy them in the most beautiful way. (musing) If only I had a great voice... I am already a happy man, but I would be even happier.
If you were allowed to conserve one opera forever, which one would you choose and why?
That would be the opera that we have yet to create, an opera that compiles all the possible experiences, scents, colours, and flavours in one big melting pot. This combination sounds like a fantastic opera I would like to conserve.
You make it sound as if a collaboration between Arne Quinze and la Monnaie is in the pipeline…
We have been working together for a long time. I cherish beautiful friendships with a lot of people in la Monnaie. Everyone knows that in friendship opportunities arise. As long as friendship blooms, fundaments are reinforced, and opportunities arise.