Luis van Seixas, Assistant Preparator, on Thursday’s Medieval Atmosphere

This Thursday, December 8, from 6:30-7:15 p.m., preparator Luis van Seixas will transform the Brooks’ Moss Gallery into a monastery-like environment, filling the space with contemporary music and replacing gallery lighting with flickering (battery-operated) candles. Come experience his Medieval Atmosphere, which is included with museum admission.

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What made you want to do this project?
I love the medieval objects in the Moss Gallery, and I thought it would be a good idea to create the atmosphere of a monastery, even using artificial candles. We’ll focus on the nativity paintings, because Christmas is coming up. Imagine the gilded wood panels illuminated by a pale flickering light – an expressed evocation of the private shrines and triptychs, just like in the early centuries of Christianity.

What should museum visitors expect?

This program represents a holistic vision of the ancient Christmas, where mystical, religious and pagan worlds merged together. Expect quite a different museum atmosphere – much less light, and an eclectic list of ethnological and neo-folk music spanning almost all the European medieval culture.

Is this something you’d see or do in your native Portugal?
Yes – a lot of European cities, especially in Germany, France, Portugal and Spain, are recreating medieval events, especially in fortress and castle cities. By doing this, they offer to the general public a glance at the golden days of the medieval age.

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Can you elaborate a bit more about the music you’ll be playing to recreate the medieval atmosphere?
In Portugal, I play guitar and produce electronica tracks as Sci Fi Industries – I’m founder and producer of the Thisco label. Now that I’m living in Memphis, where the roots of rock and roll are so important, I’m thinking about my roots too, which is what’s leading me down this medieval path. This is a trend in Europe: People are searching for the roots of their favorite music. I’ve noticed that a couple of friends are swapping their guitars for bagpipes in the pursuit of the origins of music – sort of a primal scream. I’ll be playing music by these musicians, who are basically researchers – groups like Corvus Corax and Trobar d’ Morte.

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