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Foto: liceubarcelona.cat
Foto: liceubarcelona.cat

Concert for the Biocene: A powerful message about nature and our solitude

2,292 plants formed the audience for Eugenio Ampudia's Concert for the Biocene.

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The exiting of the confinement, where it has been possible, has also raised the question of how to take up again those art forms that we have stoped because of social distancing and that we do not intend to renounce.

In the world of classical music, there have been cancellations of entire seasons, efforts to restructure and reduce orchestras, assemblies made by Zoom - our solidarity with sound engineers who have had to make such editions - and, recently, an auditorium full not of people but of plants.

2,292 plants were the audience for this performance orchestrated by Eugenio Ampudia at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, in Barcelona.

During the nine minutes of the concert, the Uceli Quartet played Giacomo Puccini's "I Crisantemi", an elegy that Puccini claimed to have composed on a night of mourning.  

In her statement, Ampudia explains that for him the piece, with the thousands of plants as an audience, shows the contradiction of the public who are obliged to abstain from being so, relegated to the screen when they would like to be in the concert hall.

The presence of the plants and the dedication "to the biocene" evokes a time long gone, the nostalgia for nature that we have trampled on in the galloping anthropocene. Because, however real the plants were, the fact that they were in pots, in an auditorium with boxes, is absolutely artificial.

We miss nature, but we struggle to find it in a state that has not passed through our hands. Among other things, because of how much we have damaged it.

Hand program https://www.liceubarcelona.cat/es/concierto_bioceno

There is another way in which plants have become important during the quarantines - although Ampudia did not mention this one -: the way in which so many people have sought refuge in them to survive the confinement.

In England, for example, demand in the seed market grew by 600% in May this year and even The Economist reported how the britons turned to gardening as a way of dealing with the anxiety of confinement.

The Concert for the Biocene is strange to watch. It produces a mixture of visual pleasure from the presence of the plants and pleasure from Puccini's piece. At the same time, it is a perfectly absurd scene, which leaves the spectator not knowing what to do with what he or she is witnessing.

However, the piece's shortcoming is in the closing, which ends with an absolutely gratuitous and unnecessary detail: when the four musicians finish playing and receive a thunderous ovation not from a standing, but from a pot. 

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