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Marcel Möring, In a Dark Wood (2008)

“‘Forget the Purgatorio,’ says a character in Marcel Möring’s new novel, ‘leave the Paradiso unread. Hell and nothing but that. That is the world.’ In this intelligent, literate narrative, the forest that skirts the Dutch town of Assen becomes the dark wood of Dante’s Inferno, while the town itself is depicted as a desolate place of sin and suffering.


“Homer, Dante, Joyce, Greek myth, Arthurian romance – Möring’s debts are unmistakable, but there’s no sense of a sneaking or slavish dependency on these sources; his unapologetic literary borrowings are a form of celebration. His exuberance sometimes seems hyperactive, but its general effect is compelling. His approach is perhaps best understood through analogy with another art form: at one point he invokes the spirit of Miles Davis, describing the great jazzman ‘going into the studio with a handful of notes and chords and in a hallucinatory session recording Kind of Blue, carrying everyone along with him, with complete confidence in his leadership and the expectation that he will bring them to the place where they have to be.’ Threading the novel’s intricate byways, enjoying the journey for its own sake, we do indeed finish up where we have to be – perhaps registering that, as the Jew of Assen remarks, the crooked path is often the only way to the end.” —Jem Poster, The Guardian, February 13, 2009

The novel, originally published in Dutch under the title Dis, was awarded the Ferdinand Bordewijk Prize for the best Dutch novel in 2007. See the author’s page here.

Peter Kattenberg’s Progress on the Divine Comedy

peter-kattenberg-divine-comedy-drawingsSunday, Sept. 12th, 2010 an exposition of Peter Kattenberg’s work in progress on Dante’s Divina Commedia will open at Arminius, Rotterdam (NL). The guerilla exhibition is part of Festival Witte de With that celebrates the opening of the new Arts Season. Kattenberg’s Dante exposition runs up to Dante’s Day of Death (Sept. 14th) to commemorate the poet and opens during a remonstrant church service to give Dante a new lease on life, both visually and spiritually.

See mores images on YouTube and Vimeo.

Also, at Leiden University Library, there is an exhibition called “Dante, Darling of the People” that opens Sept 14th, 2010.

Louis Andriessen, “La Commedia” (2008)


“On Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 8:00 p.m., Andriessen’s extraordinary new opera La Commedia (based on Dante’s Divine Comedy) makes its New York premiere in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage in a concert performance by the Asko Schoenberg ensemble…
According to the composer, ‘I see Dante’s La Commedia as one of the highest points ever reached in literature and philosophy. It combines complexity, intellectualism, horror, beauty, multi-layering, allusions, historical and mythological references, and, above all, irony. I selected sequences of material in the same order as in Dante’s book. So the first two scenes take us from the City of Dis down through Inferno to the deepest regions of hell where we meet Lucifer in the third part. This is where Adam’s Fall is described. We then pass upward through the lighter-hearted Garden of Earthly Delights until we reach Paradise in the final section, Eternal Light.’
La Commedia was premiered in June 2008 at the Holland Festival by many of the same musicians performing in the Carnegie Hall presentation.” [. . .]    —Broadway World, March 1, 2010

See also, Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, April 1, 2010

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten, “Popopera” (2009)


“After presenting their highly acclaimed HELL, based on Dante’s Inferno, Emio Greco | PC has completed [purgatorio] POPOPERA which will have its NYC premiere at The Joyce Theater. The company takes its inspiration from Dante’s literary depiction of a geographical place and feeling of transition that provides the opening for inner transformation. Greco and Scholten have said, ‘whereas in HELL we let our dancers wander round the same circles each time, in [purgatorio] POPOPERA they break out of them. The will, the need to live and especially the hope for the future are the essential motives. In [purgatorio] POPOPERA we try to show the audience other images than it expects of those overly familiar themes that cling to the concept of purgatory (catharsis, purification through suffering, …) in order to approach these themes from new angles.’ The company invites audiences to witness the transformation and synergies between dancers’ bodies and the lustrous black electric guitars they carry in this performance that melds dance with rock concert. The piece features original music composed by Bang-on-a-Can founder Michael Gordon, performed live by the dancers and soprano Michaela Riener.” [. . .]    —Off Broadway, September 16, 2009

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision


“…Inside the building that tranquillity gives way to a comic-book version of Dante’s Divine Comedy, with strict divisions between various worlds. Visitors enter via an internal bridge that crosses over an underground atrium. From here, a vast hall conceived on the scale of a piazza leads to a cafeteria overlooking the calm surface of a reflecting pool. On one side of the hall looms the ziggurat form of the museum; on the other, a wall of glass-enclosed offices. Here the spectral glow of the interior of the cast-glass skin evokes the stained-glass windows of a medieval cathedral.”    –Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times, May 26, 2007

Contributed by Darren Fishell (Bowdoin, ’09)

“The Fall of the Damned” Lampshade by Luc Merx

the-fall-of-the-damned-lampshade-by-luc-merx-of-gadget-international“Dutch architect Luc Merx’s lampshade is an algorithmic mass of writhing nudes that recalls the classical motif of the fall of the damned. He imagines the lamp hanging above a dining table, the shock of the frozen, terrified bodies disturbing diners with age-old questions of guilt and morality, issues usually kept behind closed doors.” [. . .]    –Costas Voyatzis, kostasvoyatzis, April 19, 2007