Since 2012, Jan Van Landeghem has been working on an artistic product, a transversal multimedial composition on texts of Emile Verhaeren: “Chansons de fou”. These seven socially engaged poems typify the misery of the rural population at the end of the 19th century. The crops failed, there was a grinding poverty, the discrepancy between the poor and the rich became bigger and bigger. People saught solutions in the factories of the new cities. Unfortunately, this situation would lead to World War One. This extreme tension field is evoked in the symbolic imagery of the poems.
In order to frame these poems in the best possible way, the composer has chosen the following strength: soprano solo, violin-viola solo, string quartet, four dancers, image and lighting. For the projections, current press pictures were used, as well as paintings that date from the same period as the poems. The performances were planned in the fall of 2017, at the Church Notre Dame of Laeken, the Church of Sint-Amands and the Saint Nicolas Church in Sint-Niklaas. As the period we now live in clearly shows resemblances with the “fin de siècle”, the performance constantly points at contemporary fields of tension, be it with a globalising character.