Co-commissioned by European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art Gateshead and supported by Arts Council England, Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University and Waddington Studios London.
NADA: Act II is based on the production of Béla Bartók’s pantomime ballet The Miraculous Mandarin - as staged inside the Yugoslav Pavilion at the Brussels EXPO in 1958. With its scope to represent the country’s new aesthetic direction on Nations Day almost sixty years ago, the ballet score is here traced through scarce archives and re-invented and overwritten with new purpose in collaboration with the choreographer Lea Anderson. Bartók’s original characters – the pimps, prostitute and exotic Mandarin – are replaced with the archetypes of politicians, the ideal of Mother Nation, and that most easily abused of Modern practitioners: the Architect. In doing so, the ballet becomes an allegorical proposition through which to view European history: the thugs cast as the state’s bureaucrats and politicos, who deceive and enslave, destroying the desires of those who produce for the benefit of the nation or artistic idealism.
Shot in the iconic Arne Jacobsen’s Aarhus City Hall NADA: Act II links across time and space various European models of statecraft, soft power and its framing.