We are the heroes of our time.
Eurovisision Song Festival, our guilty pleasure
Kim van Norren’s heart skipped a beat on the announcement that the Eurovision Song Contest would take place in Rotterdam. It turned out to be the go-ahead of the exhibition; ‘We are the heroes of our time, Eurovision Song Contest, our guilty pleasure’. The Song contest with its specific international and political character, combined with the wonderful songs it generated, provided a rich breeding ground from which a great variety of paintings could come about. In lining up all winning songs throughout the years, a rather vague, yet consistent, picture emerges. Puff pieces alternate with enamoured chansons, without blinking an eye.
Song Contest songs tend to ‘find their way in’. On appearing, noteworthy songs gradually evolve into lyrical monuments that hold an alternate universe within; the reality of music and emotion intertwined, as it cradles in humankind. ABBA’s ‘Waterloo’ originates from 1974 and is an undeniable gem that presents us with a reality bearing witness of mankind’s agile manner of coping with misfortune. The light-hearted musical disposition offered space for reflection, empowering ‘Waterloo’ to become an example of vitality.
Pending this pandemic year’s misery, the studio turned out to be a luxury retreat within home confinement for Kim van Norren. Song Contest’s winning songs reverberated as angelic echoes in the isolation of the studio, opening the door to the darkest cavities of the human condition. This perspective on man’s downfall simultaneously offered the perspective of an exit strategy.
Regarding the creative process, two guiding principles prevailed: the painting had to be ‘over-the-top’ and every painting had to be ‘a champion’. Accordingly, the painting ‘Finally facing my Waterloo’ went through a variety of stages; starting out as a predominantly graphical composition in a modest colour palette, holding several shades of pale yellow, light pink and cautious turquoise. At a certain stage it was nothing more than an ordinary catfight, as flashy yellow wrestled candy pink and both were overruled by a smashing turquoise. It was a ‘Song-Contest-worthy-process’ that reached its apotheosis in a well-balanced assembly of extremes into a coherent composition underlined with just the right amount of gold-sparkle. ‘Waterloo’ actually turned out to be ‘my Waterloo’ thus said van Norren; ‘compromise finds no refuge in painting.’
“We are the heroes of our time’ consists of 20 paintings bearing memorable Song Contest-titles dating back as far as 1972. Each painting is accompanied by its own unique QR code enabling the spectator to simultaneously watch the corresponding Eurovision Song Contest performance. The visual arts and music, and art in a broad sense, particularly convey the message that there will be sunshine after the rain. In that respect, Jeangu Macrooy seems to have the best cards for this year’s Song Contest with his song ‘Birth of a new age’ as we all are ready and waiting for the Post-Corona era.