SAMO is inspired by the American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988), born in Brooklyn to Haitian and Puerto-Rican parents. Basquiat was the personification of the fragmented world; he consumed, digested, and re-defined the classics, the cults and the avant-garde and portrayed in his work a mixture and accumulation of influences. His paintings are often characterized by their extreme richness in colour, imagery and text, with recurring references to autobiography, black boxing heroes, graffiti, anatomy, racism and jazz music. His early work was signed by the personal tag “SAMO”.
Blok & Steel are inspired by Basquiat and feel connected to the rawness, the urgency, the passion and the honest drive of his work. Basquiat’s accumulation of ideas and images serves as a pattern for the décor and the music. The music is specially composed by three composers with different musical backgrounds and styles following the eclecticism in Basquiat’s interests: Louis Andriessen composed the first layer for part one, Angelo Verploegen created a jazz layer on top of Andriessen’s layer and Nico van der Drift made the third layer coming from hip-hop on top of Andriessen’s and Verploegen music, creating a triple layered composition for the third part. Each musical part or layer interprets a different aspect of basquiat: avant-garde, jazz and hip hop. The accumulation of the music follows the way Basquiat worked on the canvas, adding layer after layer both in paint as in imagery and depth.
Blok & steel create work that constantly combines different influences, directions and layers, seeking to portray a personal interpretation of the world around them: the underground, the counter-currents and the coalition of extremes. In SAMO Blok & Steel and Basquiat are connected in subject matter, passion and drive.
SAMO had its premiere at the World Expo in Lisbon 1998 at the outstanding location of the river. The large stage was built on the water and the audience was seated on the land, creating an exceptional spatial experience. It then went on to tour in The Netherlands.
Choreography & concept: Suzy Blok & Christopher Steel
Dance: Shila Anaraki, Suzy Blok, Inge Buyls, Christopher Steel, John Taylor and Gabrielle Uetz
Music: Louis Andriessen, Angelo Verlpoegen, Nico van der Drift & Phil Philippi
Light design: Paul keogan
Set design: Mike van de Lagemaat
Costumes: Antoinette Wubben
Technical director: Marijcke Voorsluijs
The physical and playful visualisation of Basquiat’s work is reflected in acrobatic dances. The scene where John Taylor paints his body with crayon, intense and furious, is very profound. A very attractive and visual performance.
Isabella Lanz – Volkskrant
The opening is wonderful…and the part where the dancers, wearing primitive masks move in an almost epileptic manner, is extremely intense.
Astrid van Leeuwen – Algemeen Dagblad
Especially the first duet is surprising. There’s something acrobatic about it, combined with great tenderness. In SAMO Blok & Steel show a colourful and original portrait of an unusual artist.