| performance
Signal in Graz
moving audience as a co-producer of the artwork

live sopranos: Michaela Riener, Mijke Sekhuis, Bauwien van der Meer, Maggie Midea, Lydija Vrancovecki, Susanne Göttlich
choreography: Benjamin Vandewalle

On invitation by artistic director Werner Schrempf of festival La Strada we’ve created a surround soundscape all through the old citycenter in Graz that restages its squares and spaces. And sounds different with every step.

“eine zauberhafte, site-spezifische Arbeit”

-Eveline Koberg (

Sometimes big ideas emerge from a good portion of envy – the landscape opera Signal is one such. “I envied the great landscape artists 20 years ago and for a long time I thought that only visual artists can create something like this,” says Rob van Rijswijk. “This creative relationship between people and their surroundings, the strong reflection of space – I could never imagine how a sound artist could realize this, how to create a soundscape instead of an installation.” In the meantime, the Dutch sound artist has not only found this out, but also implemented it on a large scale together with his partner Jeroen Strijbos. And “big” means really large public spaces – including a long stretch of beach on the Dutch island of Terschelling, where Signal was staged with 24 stadium speakers and hundreds of people were guided through a touching soundscape. “The concept works in such a way that we use at least four, but usually more speakers to create a spatial sound from human voices,” explains van Rijswijk. “Mostly it is the voices of sopranos that arouse great emotions in people anyway.

But what makes the experience very special is that the audience becomes a co-producer of the artwork through their movements, who with every step they take the composition and the experience …that can change the world.” A situation that triggers very immediate, emotional reactions in many participants, as he has observed: “Some people stay for two hours, some just sit down in one place,” he says. “For it is the core element of a landscape opera that everyone develops their own narrative of emotions and thoughts within this landscape.

live sopranos: Michaela Riener, Mijke Sekhuis, Bauwien van der Meer, Maggie Midea, Lydija Vrancovecki, Susanne Göttlich
choreography: Benjamin Vandewalle

Like city bells…

This does not at all require the scenic beauty of an endless beach, even in cities this works perfectly, which the artists proved in Graz. “The city is an environment with which we are particularly connected, and when these sounds resound from the rooftops and can be felt in a square, it has an enormous effect,” says van Rijswijk. The La Strada audience can experience what this experience actually feels like in Graz at very different places. “After we did a project on the Reining- hausgründen in Graz four years ago and currently are working together with Werner Schrempf on a landscape opera on the Dachstein glacier in cooperation with the Festival of Regions, there will now also be a sound art work for Graz,” he reports. Whereby the Dutch artists are particularly interested in the kind of cooperation with La Strada estimate: “We have a common interest in the question of who one owns public space and how one can work with it,” says the artist. “And that gives us the feeling that we come to Graz to work together on projects.” So here, together we chose the appropriate places in the city, including environments as different as the main square or the opera, where the sounds can be heard from the rooftops and become a kind of artistic bells of the city. A special feature is that they do not only come from a tape, but are produced on site as well in real time: At La Strada three Dutch and three local sopranos sung live.

S&VR are commissioned to present work at festivals,
in concert halls and museums and in the landscape all over the world.

More projects