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SET AND COSTUME
my work for "Jérusalem"
JERUSALEM directed by Francisco Negrin
Verdi rewrote “I Lombardi alla prima crociata” in French with a completely different narrative. After much deliberation on the story’s credibility, director Francisco Negrin developed an effective interpretive slant, succeeding in ironing out all the inconsistencies in the storyline. So in this key, the voyage of the Count of Tolosa is no longer read as a crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the infidels but becomes a voyage of redemption towards Heavenly Jerusalem.
Paco Azorin’s masterfully designed set takes on the form of an inverted funnel echoing Dante’s circles of Hell and the humankind who inhabits this “mindscape” is in continuous transformation: from an apparent normality emerge fanatics, monstrous creatures, metaphysical apparitions. As usual, I started out by doing thorough research into iconographic documentation on the historical period and the subject matter, the first crusades, right through to historical paintings of the first half of the 1800s: the series on sovereigns in the Holy Land painted by Merry-Joseph Blondel, some paintings by Pierre-Antoine Labouchere, Jean-Victor Schnetz, Emile Signol, Francesco Hayez…
This first phase exploring historical reconstruction concluded, we decided to follow the director’s interpretative idea more closely. We began by watching Woodkid’s Iron video in order to get a much better sense of what path to take and then I gathered imagery of clusters of people , images of violent or fanatic groups from all parts of the world, the monstrous hybrids in paintings by Bosch, the grotesque yet subtle distortions in the portrait art by Cindy Sherman, the purifying power of some of Bill Viola’s works, the Decadentism of amassed humans reconstructed in the images of photographer Claudia Rogge, the incredible images shot by Sebastiao Salgado in the gold mines of Sierra Pelada or the crews of men covered in crude oil of the Wolkers series … All these ingredients helped me to formulate the humanly distorted universe of Jerusalem. (Domenico Franchi)