O Sentimental Machine - Ictus


O Sentimental Machine is a montage of animated video and expressionist pantomime created by South African visual artist and sculptor William Kentridge, the Ictus Ensemble and French composer François Sarhan. 

Using the original music of  François Sarhan (with the composer himself in pantomime) and texts of Daniil Harms, the South-African artist William Kentridge proposes a 65 minute medium-format, between musical theatre, animated video images and installation in O Sentimental Machine. Evocation of the stalinian 20s in Russia: futurism and constructivism mix in with the minutes of the trial of Fiodor Bukharin. Disappearance, threat, and oppression are masked by the grotesque, the speed, the vitality: terror installs itself, but in a wave of frenzy and unbridled artistic imagination. On a canvas painted in the manner of an old magazine boasting the advances of science, Kentridge projects a turbulent theatre of human shadows that run towards the victory of the new man. Sarhan's music, modern sky at will, precipitates the race. But the representation gets out of control: at any moment, censure interrupts.

In a continued collaboration, the performance was enriched in 2020 with a world premiere of O Sentimental Machine at the Rainy Days festival Luxembourg. Here man’s relationship with technical prowess takes centre stage, as seen through the eyes of Russian revolutionaries of the 1920s and 30s. A new video animation by Kentridge features an animated and anthropomorphic megaphone, seducing Leon Trotsky’s secretary. In counterpoint, Sarhan offers an original score to the film Interplanetary Revolution, a hallucinating proletarian science-fiction cartoon produced in the USSR in 1924. For the occasion, Matthieu Metzger, French jazz musician and inspired inventor of low-tech instruments, has built a retro-futuristic instrumentarium vaguely inspired by the Theremin.


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  • 2023-05-12 00:00:00 2023-05-12 00:00:00 - Kunstfestspiele, Hannover - Germany


Telegrams from the Nose:

Music: François Sarhan

Animated films and objects: William Kentridge

With "Interplanetary Revolution", 1924, by Khodataev, Komissarenko, Merkulov

Texts: Daniil Harms

Electronics: Matthieu Metzger         


Igor Semenoff: stroh violin

François Deppe: stroh cello

Tom Pauwels: guitar

Jean-Luc Plouvier: synthesizer

François Sarhan: actor

Matthieu Metzger: electronic instruments

Alexandre Fostier: sound

Georges-Elie Octors: director


O Sentimental Machine has been commissioned by Philharmonie and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg

Coproduction Philharmonie and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Ictus

With the support of Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief / Cinémathèque royale de Belgique