Life in a world of false security

Jan Fabre lit a cigarette. «I am very happy to be in Athens, where I can smoke,» he said without any trace of concern when a journalist pointed out that he will only be able to do that for a few weeks. He just smiled. It is always a pleasure to listen to the famous Flemish artist – a choreographer, director, playwright and visual artist – talk about all kinds of things. Fabre appears to find a different reason to return to Greece each year. This time, he has come to present «Orgy of Tolerance,» his latest production, with his Troubleyn dance theater, which caused a stir at its premiere at the Avignon Festival. «Orgy of Tolerance» was staged last night at the Pallas Theater and will be staged again tonight. The performance may feature men and women smoking on stage, Jesus balancing the cross on his hands and much more, but Fabre is not after causing a scandal. «We live in a society that will not even accept women’s menstruation, since the fluid depicted in the relative ads is blue,» he said at a recent press conference, when asked by a journalist why his work deals so much with bodily fluids. Just seeing one of Fabre’s works is enough to understand that sperm, urine, sweat, tears and cigarettes are merely an opportunity to express something deeper. «In ‘Orgy of Tolerance,’ I wanted to challenge the extreme right, which is gaining ground in my country. Secondly, I wanted to make a reference to Monty Python and then I also wanted to comment on all those TV channels and phone lines that offer quick sex. I have tried them; they are all really fake and have nothing to do with real pornography. I feel that we live under the prevalence of those fake orgasms and a fake social behavior. I see myself sitting at home, in my luxurious armchair and watching violent scenes on the television, feeling safe. ‘Orgy of Tolerance’ is a cry against the false security that we feel.» Fabre’s team worked for three months to jointly create this work. The music is by Dag Taeldeman, a leading Belgian pop artists, and was created on the spot, during rehearsals, along with the dancers and actors. «The piece’s title is ironic,» added Fabre. «Irony as a sense of humor and not as cynicism is a tool of survival. We are facing a dangerous development which goes against individuality, beauty and freedom.» «I believe in the model of Christ,» he said when questioned about the scene with Jesus in «Orgy of Tolerance.» «It is a humorous and, at the same time, very serious statement but it is not offensive at all. It is a reference to the way we try to balance our values.» When asked about his works that are on display at the Louvre, he described them as an exercise in humility, because, next to Rubens and Van Dyck, he feels small. «The Louvre seems far away now, because I just got back from the Venice biennale where I presented visual artwork for three weeks. But it was a wonderful step on my journey.» Commenting on the recent European parliamentary elections, Fabre said: «In my country, not going to vote is something that is punished harshly. Not voting is an indication that you do not believe in the prevailing political parties anymore and, at the same time, it is dangerous because in this way you can give power to extreme-right groups.» Pallas Theater, 5 Voukourestiou, tel 210.321.3100.