Works: Ezra Veldhuis & Bosse Provoost

Laura Van Severen

All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
    the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
    (right now please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
    (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

(Richard Brautigan)

In All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, Ezra Veldhuis and Bosse Provoost explore freedom and unfreedom in relation to technology, by staging Richard Brautigan’s 1967 poem of the same name.

Machines, medicine, algorithms: many new technologies seem aimed at social control or the disciplining of labour, rather than giving us new forms of freedom. Does this mean Brautigan’s dream is dead? Are we already living in a totally perverted realisation of it? Or does the freedom promised in his dream still hold potential? 

The performance oscillates between utopia and scepticism, between ecstasy  and disillusionment: we see a “cybernetic ecology” in which it is not always clear whether the entanglements between people, materials and devices are symbiotic or conflictual. The light seems to want to deceive and hypnotise, the music asks us to trust and let go. The question is not whether we are entangled, but how we suffer, dance and waver within that entanglement.

At last I am free, I can hardly see in front of me!

“This performance is not just about interweaving, it is the fruit of a successful interweaving between all sections of the theatrical apparatus. The phenomenal stage design by Ezra Veldhuis & Bosse Provoost & Sibran Sampers hooks organically with the tribune, choreography, costume and object design by Carly Rae Heathcote and sound design by Benne Dousselaere.”
Sixtine Bérard, Etcetera (NL)


Concept, lighting and scenography: Ezra Veldhuis & Bosse Provoost Choreography: Nathan Ooms, Bosse Provoost, Ezra Veldhuis Performers: Estefanía Álvarez Ramírez, Jayson Batut, Nathan Ooms Costume design & objects: Carly Rae Heathcote Sound design: Benne Dousselaere Execution set: Sibran Sampers Technical coordination: Wim Bernaers Outside eye: Marc Vanrunxt  Internship dramaturgy: Cesar Vromman Production: Hiros Co-production: C-TAKT, NEXT Festival, auawirleben Festival, Kunstenwerkplaats, SPRING Performing Arts Festival, CAMPO, Per Podium, Kraagsteen With the support of: Kunstencentrum BUDA, De Grote Post, Le Bamp, STUK, Kunst/Werk, Stad Gent, the Flemish government, taxshelter of the Belgian Federal Government via Ufund