‘In Medias Res’ is the second part of Richard Siegal’s trilogy for the Ruhrtriennale, based on ‘Purgatorio’, the middle book of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. In 2015 Siegal’s ‘Model’ took both dancers and audience on a physical journey through Dante’s ‘Inferno’. In 2016 Siegal turns his attention to Purgatory which in Dante’s epic poem takes the form of a mountain of purification: as they climb its peak, the souls of the dead undergo a cleansing process before they are finally allowed to enter the eternal kingdom of heaven.
Siegal’s Purgatory presents itself as a muddy no man’s land in which fragments of human civilization are decaying as if they were on a gigantic garbage dump. In the middle of this post-apocalyptic scenario lies the end of the world restaurant, serving the road to paradise in seven courses. Seven fragmentary scenes which touch upon the relationships between guilt and atonement, judgement and justice and which raise the question how one can be done with God’s judgement. The piece focuses on the human body in the process of its transformation – shaped by social, political and economic structure yet at the same time filled with vigorous power and the energy of resistance. On the basis of improvised scenes, four dancers and three musicians (double bass, cello and live electronics) try out a series of purification rituals and retrospectively question their political dimensions. Is there such a thing as resistant art, an aesthetics of resistance?