pearls in the arts, nature & dance
16 september 2012 - 13 january 2013
A breath of air, a dive into the deep, spherical blue and next you will be astonished by an overwhelming number of pearls. Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden dazzled with PEARLS in the arts, nature & dance, which was both a unique and cross-border experience. PEARLS was designed by guest curator and choreographer Karin Post on commission of Museum De Lakenhal. Opening performances of dance films by the Dutch National Ballet, Peter Delpeut l LeineRoebana, Natalia Horecna, Jiři Kilián and Michael Schumacher are incorporated in PEARLS, as well as new works by Marijke van Warmerdam and a spectacular installation by Rob Birza. The arts, dance and natural history were combined in an exhibition focusing on pearls as a source of imagination. Museum De Lakenhal has staged a memorable Gesamtkunstwerk.
The story of the pearl
Karin Post developed the idea for PEARLS when she travelled in Australia in 2001. Aboriginal dancers with white dots painted all over their dark bodies reminded her of dance movements in motion capture technique. This technique translates human movements into computer animations and some examples were on display at the exhibition. The story of the pearl was told in ten scenes in the exhibition rooms. The life of Siluce, a female pearl diver, was described by playwright Rob de Graaf and narrated compellingly on the audio tour by actor Pierre Bokma as the exhibition’s leitmotiv. Siluce was swept off the warm Pacific beaches to the chilly northern beaches by the currents. Her journey was a metaphor for the route from South to North, from warm to cold, from fairy tale to reality, from nature to culture. Artist Peter Struycken designed a colour scheme, which runs from warm aquamarine to cool deep blue and acts as a visual basis of the exhibition. Musical leader Yannis Kyriakides provided the music and soundscapes for the exhibition.
A museological choreography
PEARLS was an innovative, museological choreography which linked varied disciplines such as dance, film, the visual arts, music, literature, ethnographics and crafts. In this respect, PEARLS constituted a basis for a completely new museum experience. As the story unfolded in every consecutive room, distinctions between museum visitors, listeners and the audience faded away. The objects, films and installations of PEARLS linked up with Museum De Lakenhal’s monumental rooms. Loans from institutions such as Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden were on display alongside objects from Museum De Lakenhal’s own collection.
Live dance performances, lectures and other visitor’s events were organized alongside the exhibition. The public was also invited to share personal stories about pearls or the exhibition online. As such, special heirlooms, relevant poems and unanswered questions became a lively addition to the displays at the museum. A special PEARLS visual tour was available to children.