Divine Comedy

Ingrid Skåland Eriksen: Anger, Greed & Resentment, embroidery 2016

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is used as the structural device of 2-year seminar/reading-group/drawing/script-writing-circle in collaboration between KHiB, Art Department and Department of Teatervitenskap, UiB. DIVINE COMEDY is organised by professors Frans Jacobi and Hilde Hauan, KHiB, professor Knut Ove Arntzen, UiB. We read the Divine Comedy and through artistic media we transform the text into a tale of contemporary political crisis. This new 'storyboard' will constitute the script for a so-called 'mysteriespill' performed at a number of 'simultan-scener' in the public space of Bergen. The transformation process will be informed by and corresponding with other events in SYNSMASKINEN. The group of students and teachers taking part in DIVINE COMEDY will gather for cirka 2 work-sessions each semester.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri was written in 1320. It is a long poem, a narrative in verses; pointed to as the first novel in litterature. It is a selfbiography in the sense that Dante himself is the main figure in a fantastic narrative about the ’afterlife’ – the passage from the living to the dead. The allegorical world of The Divine Comedy consists of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Each of these areas are sub-divided into an intricate architechture of terraces and landscapes. Led by the poet Virgil, Dante passes through the 9 circles of Hell, the 7 mountain terraces of Purgatory and the 10 heavens of Paradise. The Divine Comedy is an account of this travel, and a moral tale of politics and love.

Mystery plays (from the Latin "misterium" meaning "occupation") are among the earliest formally developed theatre-formats in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song. Oftentimes they were performed together in cycles which could last for days. The name derives from mystery used in its sense of miracle.

Simultanteater is a medieval form of theater, often connected to Mysteriespil. A story was presented, not on one stage, but on a series of stages simultaniously. The audience organised the narrative by walking from one stage to another. The structure could be frontal – the stages was set up as a line - or ’in the round’, spread out over a square. In the english version the various stages was mounted on waggons driving around the cityscape.

the first year of Divine Comedy, contained 3 gatherings:

October 16.-18. 2015 at USF, Verfet
Synsmaskinen: BURST was presented as part of Meteor Festival. A 3-day program of talks, film and performance took us into the machinery of the climate crisis. Participants in DIVINE COMEDY followed these presentations and an initial introduction meeting took place.

November 16.-19. at KHiB, Bergen
A 4 day working session and exhibition in collaboration with artist Christian Finne.

Lecture: Knut-Ove Arntzen: Scenic reception of Divina Comedie in the context of Thomas Aquinas and the theatre of the middle ages.

Reading, dicussing, drawing; transforming the verses of The Divine Comedy into the contemporary. Where is the entrance to Contemporary Hell? What is the modern version of the river Acheron and Charon’s ferry? And how can we describe Limbo – the mental state of the first circle of hell – today?

Februar 15.-20. at KHiB, Bergen
A 5 day working session and exhibition in collaboration with artist Britta Marakatt Labba

Gunnar Danbolt, professor emeritus: Dante’s HELL as it appears in the history of art.
Britta Marakatt Labba, sami artist: On Sami mythology and everyday life in narrative embroidery.
Knut-Ove Arntzen: Divina Comedia and the baroque Stage Machine in perspective of the scenic landscape.

Is our new version of the comedy also divine? Can sin/redemption be applied to contemporary politics? Is optimism possible in the late stages of capitalism? Or are we ’all fucked’ – to qoute the american climate scientist Jason Box.

MASKIN documents

Various documents relating to this project can be found here:
MASKIN Divine Comedy


Eli Mai Huang Nesse, Mari Nittim, Ella Honeyman-Novotny, Linda Marie Westgaard, Francesca Del Frate, Anniken J Hessen, Ragna Froda, Ingrid Skåland Eriksen, Maria Victoria Høvring Høeg, Olav Andreas Mathisen, Heather Reid, Markus Samnell, Ingeborg Paulsrud, Elias Bjørn, Christian Finne, Britta Marakatt Labba, Gunnar Danbolt, Knut-Ove Arntzen, Eva Koch, Hilde Hauan, Frans Jacobi