Nova Melancholia presents a double bill consisting of SEBASTIAN and VANITAS, two distinct yet complementary acts both brimming with references to art and cinematic history. Two performances poking camp fun at death.
In this performance, Nova Melancholia stages a theatrical meditation on the concept of vanitas. Articulated as a (counter)juxtaposition of the emotionally charged sound of the electric guitar and Andy Warhol’s cynical, often humorous quips, Vanitas aspires to hold up an ephemeral mirror reflecting our “vanity”, its elusive glamour. In addition, the show functions as a seductive baroque painting: it exorcises the fatigue of the days and restores faith in the beauty of life!
Within art history, ‘vanitas’ is the name given to symbolic artworks depicting the transience of life, the futility of pleasure and the certainty of death; these notions are evoked through the image of a skull and contrasted to symbols of wealth, prosperity and luxury. The Latin noun vanitas is derived from the adjective vanus (empty) and refers to the following phrase appearing in Ecclesiastes: 'vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas' (vanity of vanities, all is vanity). The vanitas still life genre, popular in Western Europe during the 16th and 17th century, often depicts luxury wares laid on rich fabrics, musical instruments, books, scientific instruments, smoking paraphernalia—any object understood to offer pleasure and enjoyment to humans—along with hourglasses, fragile glassware and skulls. All these objects connote the futility of wealth, the transitory nature of beauty, the inevitability of time. These paintings summon us to reflection and function as a memento mori (reminder of death). However, the other side of vanitas could well be carpe diem (seize the day). The show is a celebration of the ephemeral, of the senses, an affirmation of the uncertainty of existence, a memento vitae (reminder of life).
* The performance includes excerpts from Andy Warhol’s ‘The philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)’ (Harvest, 1977; translated in Greek by Ioulia Rallidi, Tsagkarousianos, 2006)
* The lyrics of the songs “The Emblem of Death” and “Young Man Holding a Skull” were written by Vassilis Noulas and are based on the description of two famous vanitas paintings
Concept, coordination: Vassilis Noulas and Kostas Tzimoulis
Director: Vassilis Noulas
Texts: Andy Warhol
Set design & costumes: Anastasia Douka
Assistant director: Elisavet Xanthopoulou
Photos: Anastasia Douka
With the participation of Vicky Kyriakoulakou
Original music written and performed by Giannis Arapis
Performers: Vassilis Noulas, Kostas Tzimoulis
A Nova Melancholia production © 2023
With the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports
Korytsas 39, Athens 104 47
Première: Thursday, 4 May 2023
Duration: 45 min.
Starting time: SEBASTIAN: 8.30 pm / VANITAS: 10.30 pm