10 Questions

Jan Fabre: war with yourself

0ca981a83446b988c10260d384a54078 - Jan Fabre: war with yourself

The cross-border and the frontier: it is already more than thirty years, the core of Jan fabre’s artistic oeuvre.

Real pain, real sweat, real exhaustion at the scene show: it was always the motto of Jan fabre’s theatre work. The straatjongen from the Antwerp city in the eighties a company of not …

Real pain, real sweat, real exhaustion at the scene show: it was always the motto of Jan fabre’s theatre work. The straatjongen from the Antwerp city in the eighties a company of non-professional actors from around the crowd, broke with the tradition of the inlevingstheater. Fabre continued with ‘ordinary bodies’ on stage, performers that he dared to push the limits.

Already in his first steps as director was Fabre therefor under fire. They suspected him of being a shrewd manipulator who are actors forced to exhausting acts, in theatermarathons full of delays and loops. Screenwriter Guido Van Meir must fabre’s procedure eyes have had with The chair of Stanislavsky (1987), his piece in the Raamtheater in which he ‘a certain kind of casual regisseurstheater’ to the elbow.

Gradually grew fabre’s podiumstukken to monumental parables with a great show value. They made a sensation of the Avignon festival to the Salzburg Festival, and especially by their character of radical, rebellious troublemaker. The red thread in fabre’s theatre should be powerful contradictions. He is looking for the euphoria and the ecstasy, the hitsige passion but also the chaos and decay, he shows the erotic but also the spiritual body.

How he his ‘warriors of beauty’ so far to oorlogje to introduce themselves, their personal cruelty to demonstrate or live on stage to lakes such as the dancers in The crying body? A matter of mutual trust, said Fabre is always with great certainty. Never had he them, to say something against their will. More even (in Humo): ‘superprofs should I often warn: “Boys, don’t go too far, this is not a performance, this is theatre.’


Fabre’s art is fierce, intense and highly physical. The body and his own truths, his transformations, his instincts: lijfelijkheid is fabre’s laboratory and main obsession.

You can find it already in his early drawings. In his research of body fluids tapte, and he himself is a blood draw to draw, but even so, he went to work with tears, urine, saliva, and semen. Drawings function almost as a diary: a continuous stream of images on paper, which are extravagant fantasy tangible in a visual universe of droomkastelen or wriggling insects. Fears, dreams, death and life: they are listed in the manual. At first glance, pornographic images hear that, in an explicit tekeningenreeks as the Fountain of the world but equally in the eponymous The Fountain of the world (as a young artist), a continuous ejaculerende installation that Fabre’s vitality is celebrated. Fabre’s vrouwbeeld is not one-sided. Critics saw ‘an ode to the woman, the sensuality and fertility, and the’ in the nude, pregnant women in the opera Tannhäuser on stage, in addition to the ultrasound of their fetus.

As an artist he portrayed Fabre himself always as a category apart, eager to push limits. His penchant for totaalkunst took him to theatre, dance, opera and scenography, performance, installations, films, and now apparently also to the photography. Often creates his work in series, as dictated by the material such as bic-blue or the keverschilden.

A preacher and moralist, as Fabre described, a dreamer, a voyeur, a sensatiezoeker or a melancholy god. Famous medieval people saw themselves as ‘dwarves on the shoulders of giants’, the canon of the ancient times. Fabre is a lot less humble. He feels the equal of the great masters and perform with them and have a conversation man-to-man. So adorned his art effortlessly, the Royal Museum for Fine Arts in Antwerp, the Louvre or the Hermitage. And when the Antwerp barokjaar a supplier looking for new altarpieces in the Augustinuskerk, they came automatically, ” the most baroque, among the contemporary artists.

Abused cats

Often got to Fabre the news whatsoever. With ‘hamzuilen’ that he relationship between skin and skeleton aftastte, abused cats, with human bones which he vermaalde to works of art. But it also has a huge audience Fabre in the heart closed with images of a classic status acquired. As The man who measures the clouds, a symbol for the artist in his heroic pursuit of the impossible. Or the turtle Searching for utopia, fabre’s craving for distant horizons and the slow path towards it: recently she got a permanent place in Nieuwpoort on a square that is to the artist mentioned.

Find his art to a new audience, she is still taboedoorbrekend and groundbreaking? A young generation of theatergoers discovered, in recent years, the strength of his early work. They dweepten also with Mount Olympus, the 24 hour theatermarathon from 2015, which is one long Dionysian intoxication built up. But just break one of them off on a generation of theatre makers who ever her freedom fought, himself wanted to ontvoogden of the big stories and the narrow-minded bourgeois morality, such as that in the eighties in the performing arts entrance.

The young theatre maker Julie Cafmeyer spoke recently in the magazine Etcetera is still in a deadly sentence about: ‘No one responds, still shocked as Fabre his performers an hour late, skipping, or a piemelballet. His strategy is known.’

Leave a Comment