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Under Construction: Han Ruiz Buhrs about the scenography of Erosion

6 September 2021

Erosion is a new performance by performance collective ROTOR. The performance opens a dialogue between man and their surroundings, and consequently between the performers and the stage design. We met scenographer Han Ruiz Buhrs in Het Domijn in Weesp to talk about creating that stage design. “For me the aesthetic interpretation is inferior to the spatial experience. The décor of Erosion is a space that evokes something physical, for the performers as well as for the audience.”

What inspires you in your work as a scenographer?

“I get inspired by building materials and construction sites. In my work I often use raw materials, and leave them as they are. My designs are open to interpretation and universal at the same time. The sketchiness and unnamedness is an important element in my work: I want to leave the responsibility of interpreting with the spectator. In that way it becomes a quite personal experience for the spectator. That is also something that is characteristic in ROTOR’s work: It is about what you experience, and not about whether you ‘get’ it.”

“A theme in my work is the man-made versus the natural; the organic versus the conceived. In my design, nature is not represented in its organic shape, but more in its unpredictability: there is a randomness. There are no straight angles, but it has a mathematical feel. It appears to follow a certain structure. Like the architecture of the Eye Film Museum, which was a big inspiration for my set design.”

What was the starting point for the scenography of Erosion?

“In Erosion we see two performers, balancing each other while spinning in circles. In our conversations, Koen and Hidde (of ROTOR) spoke a lot about that balance. How humanity is trying to hold on to each other to find new ways of living. They also wanted to take the problematics of that position as a theme. When you take up space it influences your surroundings. Humanity creates a balance and takes up space, but that balance eventually endangers humanity itself.”  

How do you translate a geographical concept such as ‘erosion’ to a spatial design? 

“Erosion is about wear and tear, and about balance. The wearing away of one thing, makes space for another. What is the role of mankind intervening in that process, maybe even disrupting it? The Anthropocene is a temporary thing, an era comes into being within which humans play a role, but maybe that era will come to a close, making space for something else. For me that is a spatial issue.”  

“In my spatial concept there is an upper and under world, they mirror each other and form a threat to the humans in between. In the scenography there are elements of a construction site like aesthetic. Humans are constantly rebuilding or renewing. You cannot walk through the city without stumbling upon some renovation. For me that connects to the finiteness of humanity that keeps trying to hold on. But in the end there are bigger forces at work, that are way more important, than the temporary nature of the things we’re trying to figure out…”

Curious about the set design of Erosion that Han Ruiz Buhrs is building in his studio? Experience it in Veem House: Erosion is presented in Veem House from 15th until the 19th of September.

Click here for tickets!


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