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Wordless and all [KAMP] is a deeply poetic work.
– The Irish Times
Hotel Modern’s masterwork, KAMP is, in every way, a performance of necessity and a daring representation of the world we live in.
First shared in Toronto by World Stage in 2013, KAMP presents a single, unremarkable day in a city purpose-built for the annihilation of the Jewish people. An enormous scale model of Auschwitz fills the stage. It contains overcrowded barracks, a railway track and a gateway with the infamous slogan, “Arbeit Macht Frei.” This colossal scale model is inhabited by thousands of 8cm-tall handmade puppets that represent the prisoners and their executioners at an astonishing ratio of 1 to 10.
Filming the events with tiny cameras and setting the puppets to tasks both horrific and banal, the extraordinary artists of the Netherlands’ Hotel Modern themselves become models. Their resolution in this work is to salvage human creativity from the banality of evil and depravity. The performance is as vital today as it has ever been.
The Holocaust was the systematic murder of six million Jewish people and millions of others by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. The set of KAMP (CAMP) is a scale model of the Auschwitz concentration camp, now in modern-day Poland, where approximately one million Jewish people from all over Europe were murdered by the Nazis between 1940 and 1945.
Harbourfront Centre honours the memory of the victims, in particular the Jewish people of Europe, who were targeted and murdered during the Holocaust.
Dutch theatre group Hotel Modern blends visual art, puppetry, music, film and performance in expressive theatre productions. The group’s visual language is rich and playful. Scale models play an important role in their work, allowing Hotel Modern to view the world literally from a macro perspective.
The horror of war is a frequently recurring theme in the group’s work: KAMP is a theatrical portrait of Auschwitz, while The Great War depicts the First World War as seen through the eyes of the soldiers. Hotel Modern also make absurdist, lighter-hearted work, such as Shrimp Tales, which is a high-spirited portrayal of humanity in which 350 real, dried shrimps play the roles of people.
The members of Hotel Modern are idealistic in the sense that they believe that theatre can foster a sense of reconciliation. They seek to offer solace in a world where people are sometimes afraid of one another. The group achieves this not by presenting a rose-tinted vision of the world, but by formulating a refined, confronting and poetic interpretation of reality.
Hotel Modern was founded in 1997. Its members are the actors Arlène Hoornweg and Pauline Kalker, and the artist and performer Herman Helle. The composers Arthur Sauer and Ruud van der Pluijm often collaborate with the group.
Hotel Modern is based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The group performs all over the world: from Paris to Tokyo and from Moscow to New York.
KAMP (CAMP), according to its makers Hotel Modern, is in some ways a response to Theodor Adorno’s provocative suggestion that “to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Before opening night, Scholars-in-Residence VK Preston and Matt Sergi will engage in an open debate about what the role of the poet, artist, or theatre-maker can or should be at our current moment in history, when concerns about fascism seem newly relevant, and when highbrow culture is frequently made the target of populist complaints. The debate will take form around audience response, so please join us and let your voice be heard.
Following this evening’s performance, connect with the artists as they field your questions and discuss the work you’ve just seen. It’s the most direct behind-the-scenes access you can get. Admission is free with the purchase of your ticket.
Hosted by Shira Leuchter
Shira Leuchter works as both an actor and theatre creator, and she is the Creative Director with UnSpun Theatre. She has performed with award-winning theatre companies including Cahoots Theatre, Convergence Theatre, Native Earth and fu-GEN, and she is also a freelance illustrator and painter. She has created commissions for companies including Harbourfront Centre and the Gardiner Museum.