Vive le roi ! Vive la république !) (2008)

Video installation for 1 projector and 1 flatscreenmonitor
2 X 48.58 min. (loop)
HDV – color – stereo
Orig. version: Dutch, French, German
With: Jamal Boukhriss, Bernard Breuse, David Dermez, Guy Dermul, Bernard Eylenbosch, Nedjma Hadj, David Strosberg, Willy Thomas, Bernard Van Eeghem, Peter Vanden Bempt, Mieke Verdin, ‘De Ridders te Paard’, …a.o.
Production Manager: Bert Leysen
Director of Photography: Rutger Debrabander
Gaffer: Jonathan Wannyn
Camera: Wim Catrysse, Filip Gilissen, Azilys Roman, Frank Theys, Koen Theys
Sound Design: Johan Vandermaelen
Assistant sound design: Bart Vandermaelen
Editing & soundmix: Koen Theys
Costumes: Jackie Fauconnier, Emma Zune
Props: Erik Dehaes
Assistants props: Lien Boelen, Sarah Devos
Technical coordination: Charles Gohy
Assistants technical coordination: Papikyan Armen, Jean-Louis Gilles, Xavier Lucy
Production & realisation: Koen Theys
Co-production: Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, Kunstenfestivaldesarts

‘PATRIA (Vive le roi! Vive la république!)’ was first created on 10.05.2008 as a performance at the Martyrssquare in Brussels, during the ‘KunstenFestivaldesArts’. The action took place on that historical square in front of the Flemish Parliament, where about 400 martyrs of the Belgian revolution lay burried, and this event was shot with seven videocamera’s.
Koen Theys inspired himself for this work by the painting ‘Scene of the septemberdays in 1830’ by Gustave Wappers. This huge painting can be viewed in the Museum of Art in Brussels. Like the famous painting ‘Freedom leading the people’ by Eugène Delacroix can be seen as the most important icon of the French revolution; the painting by Gustave wappers can be seen as the most important icon of the Belgian independance.
However, in stead of the people figuring in the painting by Wappers, the scene in this video is filled with riot policeman. They all lay asleep near their dogs and horses, and once in a while some of them are yelling slogans like: ‘Long live the king!’; ‘Long live the republic!’; ‘Long live the sky!’; ‘Long live the dogs!’; Long live democracy!’; ‘Long live my mother!’, …etc. They are said in the three national languages of Belgium: Dutch, French and German. Some knowledge of the Belgian political history could be usefull to understand all the humour or references in it. All possible political points of view are passing by, as well as the biggest trivialities.
In his book ‘The End of History and the Last Man’, the American philosopher Francis Fukuyama defends the idea that the end of history is reached. All the big ideologies of the 20th century have come to an end, he says, and they have made place for a post-ideological, neo-liberal pragmatism. More than trying to say something about the political situation in Belgium, Koen Theys asked himself the question, in respons to these theories of Fukuyama, how to make a historypiece today for a post-historical society.

… I call it a history piece for a post-historical era. …”
Koen Theys in an interview with Karel Van der Auwera

entire interview (NL)

“ … Koen Theys, the video artist who imagined Patria, inspired himself on the painting Episodes of the september days in 1830 by Gustave Wappers. This painting was made to celebrate the Belgian independence in a strong empathic mouvement. But what is left of it today? A collossal crisis that make policeman say absurdities like: ‘Long live the King!’, ‘Long live my mother in law who doesn’t love me’, ‘Long live Europe!’, ‘Long live the speed!’, …”
Brigitte Salino – Le Monde

Entire article (FR)

“ … More than a parody, although it surely was that, the piece aimed to highlight the post-national, post-ideological nature of liberal-capitalist democracy, in the light of which this country's linguistic disputes seem pitifully passé. …”
Sarah McFadden – The Bulletin

Entire article (EN)

“ … Theys' spectacular tableau vivant - with actors and figures wearing helmets, shields and batons; with horses and German shepherds; with drapes of national flags and neo-classicism elements - was created in front of the Flemish Parliament in Brussels. Staged as a national "monument," it resembled Wappers' theatrical reenactment of a moment of revolutionary fervor, a similar chaos of people, swords and guns. Yet the usual heroic poses of fighting for independence were exchanged for sleeping guards and sagging cavalry. …”
Elke Segers – Catalogue ‘Brussels Biennial’

Entire article (EN)