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Under Construction: Anthony van Gog & Maarten Heijnens

1 March 2021 — by Lies Mensink

While the doors of Veem House stay closed for audiences, plenty is going on behind the scenes. In Under Construction we sneak into our rehearsal spaces to share a glimpse of all that is brewing and flourishing there. We speak to Anthony van Gog and Maarten Heijnens as they work on Heartscore in our theatre.

Anthony van Gog and Maarten Heijnens both graduated from Performance academy Maastricht. They first worked together on their graduation performance Breathing Piece in which they created a composition using only their breath. Heartscore will be their second ‘physical score’ determined and directed by their own live beating heart.

Anthony: “As artists we found each other in a shared fascination for the body, and in a conflict. With Maarten everything is thought out from beginning to end, he is very conceptual almost mathematic. Maarten moves from a place of control whereas I’m interested in the moments where I lose control.”

Maarten: “Anthony is a very intuitive maker. We are fascinated with this tension between the organic and the mechanic, between intuitive and rigid. If within one body those two clash or become incompatible it can get you into a state of surrender: the body takes over the rational mind. That is what we try to accomplish with our ‘physical scores’.”

Anthony: “We manipulate organic bodily processes and put them within the rigid framework of a score. We search for the limits where manipulation no longer is possible. For me in those physical scores there is a certain pointlessness, there is no moral, no goal: it is just a moment in time. I find it interesting to place the necessity of the body within the meaninglessness of a score.”

What are you researching in this residency?

Maarten: “Our new performance Heartscore is scheduled to premier in September in Veem House. We are using this residency to research the technical aspects. We are making a physical score in which our live heart beat functions as the metronome. But that is quite difficult…” Maarten laughs: “How do you work with something as organic and irregular as your heart beat?”

Anthony: “We already thought about the need to start the performance at a specific BPM when we are relaxed, because if we are nervous our BPM will be too fast.”

Maarten: “That is probably a scene in its own right: just finding the right heartbeat to start the performance!”

Anthony: “We are not thinking about dramaturgical arches or museum like contexts yet. We have a body, and the framework of a score: how do they relate? We use digital music editing programs to deconstruct our heart beat into a musical count. Digitally you can create quite virtuosic rhythmic compositions, but how do you then translate those to the live performance space? In this process we constantly balance between this clash of the live and the digital of the intuitive and the score.”

What is important for you in a residency?

Maarten: “I think it is about finding the right balance, to research thoroughly but also to stay open and not get into a ‘tunnel vision’.”

Anthony: “What I find fantastic here in Veem for instance, is that you are very autonomous and independent: ‘here’s our key, our house is open for you.’ I think that is necessary when you are in the process of creation. You need to get into the right concentration, with the right time and space to surrender yourself completely.”

You will close this residency with an Open Studio, is it important for you to share your work with an audience?

Anthony: “It is important, being in dialogue with an audience is when the work really comes into existence. That’s usually when you realize what it is you’re creating. What I do find difficult is that this moment also closes off: it creates a certain expectation of what the finished work is going to be like.”

Maarten: “A residency always goes differently than you expect it to. In this residency the technical aspects took us way more time than we intended them to. It was necessary because the technological is an important part of this performance, but then you need to relate yourself to a moment of sharing with an audience, while you are in a different creational phase than you originally expected to be. That can be difficult.”

“We have thought about how can we shape this Open Studio in such a way that it reflects the process we are in right now. I’m excited that in this Open Studio we will engage in a conversation with a neuropsychologist. It is a meeting of two worlds. We share our artistic practice and will research how that relates to this more scientific approach. What do we share and what don’t we?”

Anthony van Gog en Maarten Heijnens will share their research during an Open Studio on the 3rd of March and engage in conversation with neuropsychologist Jolant van den Haspel. Join us for an open informal exchange and find out where the artistic and scientific approaches of the heart meet.

Heartscore will premiere in September 2021 and is a production of Makershuis Tilburg in coproduction with Veem House for Performance, STUK, VIA ZUID & Master of Theatre.

About Maarten Heijnens & Anthony van Gog

Anthony and Maarten both graduated in 2019 from the Theater Academy in Maastricht (Performance). Since graduation, they have formed a makers duo dedicated to creating what they call “physical scores.” In a physical score, not the musical instrument, but the ‘body-as-instrument’ is central. In a compositional way they manipulate a body instrument to the utmost, in an attempt to make its underlying (body) frictions tangible to the viewer. Their first partiture breathing pieces their central instrument was the breath, in heartscore the performers attempt to manipulate their heartbeat. They find each other in a shared desire to let the body speak in order to (continue to) understand her.

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Open Studio: Heartscore by Maarten Heijnens & Anthony van Gog

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