Mesut Arslan / Platform 0090 & KVS


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For his latest creation, director Mesut Arslan set to work with the masterful Gilgamesh epic. Not as a tale of immortality, as it has been told for thousands of years, but as an epic about learning to die. 

In this collection of heroic stories, Gilgamesh, the fifth king of Uruk, who is often accompanied by his friend Enkidu, experiences mythological adventures. He goes in search of eternal life or fights battles with supernatural creatures sent to Uruk by the gods. But he also faces existential questions concerning, among other things, his awareness of mortality. 

Uruk, part of southern Mesopotamia at the time and known today as Warak in Iraq, is one of the oldest known urban cultures. The fertile soil around the Euphrates River provided the opportunity to grow wheat and to evolve from a nomadic to a sedentary existence. From ‘being’ to ‘having’. Because wheat meant possession and borders. In hunter-gatherer times, wild nature was free for all. But sowing and harvesting meant taming nature, drawing up and defending borders: existence became territorial. What is mine is not yours. Wheat fields became possessions and exacerbated the oppositions of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Wars are often not about land, but about energy and resources.

But who tames who when we look at the bigger picture? Do humans tame nature, or does nature ultimately tame humanity?

Gilgamesh goes to great lengths to become immortal, to master death and nature. We humans, with our so-called civilisation and all our cultural heritage, also want to be masters of time and space. But does that make us happy? Has the pandemic not shown us that we need to put our egos into perspective? That nature outside, and the beast within us, are more powerful than ever? We could learn to accept the harmony that proliferates in the wild, surf along on nomadic waves and ‘be’, rather than trying to grasp and conquer. 

If we make peace with death, life suddenly becomes so much more valuable.

The Gilgamesh epic is one of the oldest examples of literature in human history. The stories were passed down orally for centuries and later frequently written down in cuneiform script. The definitive version is thought to date from the twelfth century BC, but older fragments date back to the third millennium BC. 
Together with Mesut Alp, archaeologist and expert on Mesopotamia, Mesut Arslan rewrites the epic and excavates a number of contemporary core themes from it. Arslan and Alp treat the encounter between Enkidu and Gilgamesh as one that pits nature against civilisation, Homo Sapiens against Neanderthals, and time against space. 

Like in his last creations, Arslan chooses to work with an empty space in which performers and audience co-exist together. In the vacuum of KVS BOX, Gilgamesh is brought to life night after night.


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Live recording 

Live recording on demand via saskia.lienard@kvs.be (programmers) or sebastien.parizel@kvs.be (press).

Sébastien Parizel
0478 92 09 82

​​Saskia Liénard
​​0496 55 19 92

Catherine Vervaecke
02 210 11 57