In the fall of 2022, Van Laere attended a six-hour surgery at St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein. Before his eyes, he saw the surgeons make incisions into a body and work on it with laparoscopic instruments. In the heat of the moment, vital decisions were made by doctors hovering over the body and talking to each other, determining how much flesh to cut away. This crucial improvisation continued to haunt Van Laere, and the episode is given a prominent place in his multimedia sound performance. He also interviewed various other professionals, from a deep-sea diver to a police officer, in order to find out what role improvisation plays in their work.
Working live with the same laparoscopic instruments, Van Laere makes these recorded voices audible in the performance. The experience of improvisation is not only approached in terms of content; the performers themselves must constantly improvise with their tools in order to transmit sound. In ‘Reach’, as in the rest of his oeuvre, Van Laere offers a leading role to the human body, always at the mercy of the situation it finds itself in at any given moment.
Pictures by Alex Heuvink at Rewire Festival 2023