public secrets of the VU

Last week, one could attend two quite unconventional events organized by VU Humanities scholars on one day, combining scholarly discourse with sing-along and smell-along activities: one in the VU Church Hall, the other at Mediamatic.

The VU’s Church Hall is currently the location of a public lecture series around the topic of freedom, organized by philosophy professor Reinier Munk in the context of the VU Lustrum program. Each evening of the series combines a lecture of a VU professor with a musical performance. The first evening featured Gerard Boter, Professor of Ancient Studies, pianist Micha van Weers, and baritone Robbert Muuse, who, amongst others, presented a fascinating interpretation of a Nietzsche poem by Julius Röntgen. While we sometimes struggle with the acoustics of the Church Hall, Robbert Muuse definitely didn’t…

Last Thursday, philosophy professor Martin van Hees had invited his youth idol Hans Vandenburg, lead singer of Grupo Sportivo, who even tried to make the audience singalong. Discussing the relation of freedom and ethics, Van Hees, as an example, used Grupo Sportivo’s song ‘I said No’ as a starting point to elaborate on the importance of having choices for experiencing freedom.

Later on Thursday evening, Caro Verbeek, PhD researcher at our faculty, presented the fourth iteration of her Odorama at Mediamatic – exploring and performing smell from various perspectives. This issue was dedicated to Synesthesia and the absolute highlight was choreographer Amy Toner who, after an introduction, had a work performed by dancer Merel Franx. Toner’s goal is to give smell as much attention in theatre as sound and vision, and this was definitely the case for Merel Franx’s fascinating performance, a kind of ecstatic dance action handling oranges, honey, coffee, and several other incenses.

So, if you are interested, the next Odorama will take place on March 3, 8 pm; the next lecture in the Vrijheid aan de VU series this Thursday, February 18, 4:30 pm. Then (surprise surprise) I’ll be speaking about the key role of rules in participatory art, and Anne Veinberg will be playing John Cage. (KK)

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