Updated: Aug 18
In Theaterkrant.nl - a Dutch digital review forum the following article appeared about the Automata Carrousel. Fair is fair... It was a pleasure to read such beautiful words (yes, I understand and speak Dutch;-)
For those who don't understand a word of it: here is a translation.
MECHANICAL STORYTELLING MACHINES EVOKE POWERFUL IMAGES
16 August 2021
Seen on 14 August 2021, Theatre Festival Boulevard, 's-Hertogenbosch
In the sunlight, Geert Hautekiet's carousel automatically attracts attention. The tent appears to be made of copper plates with green oxidation spots, but when you come closer you see that some of it is printed cloth. Inside, there are mechanical storytelling machines made from recycled wood: automata. The visitor sees them pass by as in a peepshow. Each machine offers its own story, but together they say so much more.
Hautekiet worked for more than two years on these machines, which he says had to become fifty in order to combine his love of primitive art and storytelling with his experience as an industrial designer and theatre maker. First of all, it is striking how ingeniously the automata are put together. The spectator turns a handle and thus brings them to life, sees how the various cogs interlock.
The images that Hautekiet conjures up are, without exception, powerful as iron. He captures the consequences of climate change in a single image of a polar bear on a wobbly ice floe. A floe that is wobbling because it has been set in motion by human hands. The refugee issue is depicted in the same striking way in a man and woman who immediately remind us of Joseph and Mary. Living apart together' shows two birds in a cage, their backs to each other. An egg moves back and forth between the two birds and whoever looks closely sees a portrait of the two birds together. This is a poignant and painful image of how children pass from parent to parent without speaking to each other.
Other automata offer room for multiple interpretations. The end of the month', for instance, shows a man putting his hands in front of his face, but without knowing the title, this image mainly evokes the despair that many feel with the themes shown in other automata. Is the flying Jesus statue hopeful or, on the contrary, despairing? The portrait of Hautekiet himself brings a smile to the viewer's face, as he lets his hands move: 'There is more to life than just work. But as my work comes to life, I hope you can enjoy it'.
As a whole, Automata Carroussel offers a glimpse of the world outside this peepshow that resonates many times longer than the eleven minutes in which the mechanical storytelling machines pass.
Photo: Roel van der AA