How do you imagine the soundtrack to an exhibition called ‘Decadence’ would sound? Czech musicians Monika Načeva and David Cajthaml were asked to create just that – a piece of modern music to accompany an exhibit dedicated to the excesses of the fin de siecle. So what did they do? They produced an 18-minute reworking of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘la decadanse’. The vinyl was launched in Prague on Tuesday, Rosie Johnston was there:
The exhibition ‘Decadence in the Bohemian Lands 1880-1915’ was such a hit when it opened here in Prague that the show was given a second outing in Brussels, where it is currently running as part of the Czech EU Presidency. To accompany the show, which presents images of sex, death and horror by artists such as František Kupka and Alfred Kubín, a reworking of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘la decadanse’ has been released on limited edition vinyl. The cover version was the idea of the exhibition’s curator Otto M. Urban:
“I was always interested not only in researching the past, but looking at the past from the present view. So, for me, it was very important to see the late 19th - early 20th century through the eyes of the present, and I thought that it would be ideal if some contemporary artists would deal with the topic of decadence from a contemporary perspective. This will accompany the show which presents stuff from 100 years ago, and it will show that even these pictures which were made 100 years ago are still somehow relevant, and that their themes and topics are still alive.”
What would you say that modern decadence sounds like?
“It sounds like a mixture of Throbbing Gristle, Portishead and Current 93, but especially it is the sound of Načeva and Cajthaml.”
Artist and musician David Cajthaml plays guitar in this version of the Gainsbourg - Birkin classic:
“We liked the atmosphere of Gainsbourg’s songs very much, and also the things that are important for him are important for us too, so this was a good relationship, I would say.”
So what are the things that are important for Gainsbourg that are also important for you?
“It’s simple. Sex and drugs and rock and roll.”
And are you happy with the outcome, is it decadent enough?
“I’m very happy, I’m very happy.”
There are 300 copies of this vinyl on sale. They can be found in Brussels
Town Hall where the ‘Decadence in the Bohemian Lands’ exhibition is
running until May 10. You can also download the song for free from the
exhibition’s website – www.dekadence.info.
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