Lillevan: our artistic director

Lillevan: our artistic director

06 March 2015
Charlotte Streck

Since 2011, when he accepted the role as artistic director of the Glacier Music Project of the Goethe Institutes in Tashkent and Almaty, Lillevan has dedicated a part of his time to environmental topics. Lillevan, a renowned international video artist and artistic director of SINFONÍA TRÓPICO, has a history of being inspired by nature. Organic shapes and patterns figure prominently in his work. Since they met during the Glacier Music Project, Lillevan cooperates closely with Charlotte Streck -his co-director of SINFONÍA TRÓPICO- in the development of projects that put equal emphasis on artistic quality and environmental understanding.

During the next stage and phase of  SINFONÍA TRÓPICO, Lillevan will also actively participate and perform in Puerto Gaitán on 25 March 2015. The following summarizes an interview let with Lillevan in February 2015:

How did the Glacier Music project influence SINFONÍA TRÓPICO?

 The experience was very interesting and fulfilling, Glacier Music took place in four countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan), that is four neighbors that are all struggling with issues of melting glaciers, politics, ecology.  I learned to bring people from most varied backgrounds, nationalities and opinions to the table to start the important conversations on how we imagine our future, how to move towards a common and healthy future. Society, history, art and ecology are not separate worlds, but connected and dependent on each other.

What is your vision for SINFONÍA TRÓPICO and Colombia?

I have been to Colombia many times and am fascinated with its nature and its people.

Colombia is a beautiful and unique country, a country at a crossroads politically, socially and ecologically.  I come from Ireland, a country torn by civil war for many decades, but now stable in peace and relative prosperity. I feel it is an exciting time to be in Colombia.

Colombia faces challenges, globally we face challenges, and the arts are an excellent method to raise awareness and motivate people, especially young people.

Our focus is on creating space and possibility for positive action, moving on from the negative campaigns which usually fail to bring any improvement

Who participates in SINFONÍA TRÓPICO?

Colombia’s art scene is rich and diverse, and I am delighted to get to know the artists and their histories and motivations. I have found that in the past Colombian artists have usually decided to leave their country, living abroad in USA or Europe. Now we see artists returning and many young artists planning to stay in Colombia, discovering the country and desiring to get involved in shaping the future.

 This is excellent, and SINFONÍA TRÓPICO aims to encourage this, indeed go further and encourage more exchange between the big cities and the rest of the country. Colombia is so much more than just Bogota and Medellin. SINFONÍA TRÓPICO is a project which encourages dialogues, as many as possible between as many parties as possible, e.g. city/country, art/science. etc. 


First of all: we are asking artists and scientists to talk to each other, to start dialogues. This was one motivation behind the expedition to Urabá in November. Create the space and time for artists & scientists to spend time together, in a region bursting with biodiversity, yet displaying symptoms of the loss of biodiversity, the signs of deforestation etc,. Scientists can explain to the artists what they are seeing, can explain how to interpret these symptoms. Artists can work with scientists on methods of communication. Artists can make relevant works based on facts they have seen with scientists.

We create a platform: for discussion, for education, for art. A platform that continues for a long time after the festival in 2015. A platform which raises awareness and causes excitement for positive change rather than resignation or bitterness. A platform which reminds us that we have an obligation to all other people on planet earth and an obligation to future generations, an obligation to take care of the planet and its resources, and to establish that that we can take care of the planet in joyful, creative ways!

What is the importance of music in SINFONÍA TRÓPICO?

Music opens the door to the heart and soul, and mind.

It is a very special universal language.

It reaches all of our senses, it moves us, & it moves everybody on the planet.

As we are focusing on positivity in this festival, music is the ideal attractor & motivator

The next location of SINFONÍA TRÓPICO is Orinoquia. What are the plans for Puerto Gaitán?

In Puerto Gaitán we will present a very special and unique event, and I am excited to invite all citizens of Puerto Gaitán to this extraordinary SINFONÍA TRÓPICO production ! 

I have commissioned Nils Ostendorf and Christoph Schletz to create a radical, sophisticated and intelligent new form, a hybrid of concert and theatre, weaving the languages of documentary theatre with local musical traditions, international avant-garde music, local vocal expression, dance and video art. 

This production will also be unique in that the entire performance will be created, rehearsed and produced exclusively in - and for - Puerto Gaitán in the days & weeks preceding the event!

We are expecting a maximum of local involvement, Nils and Christoph will work exclusively and adventurously with local talent, the protagonists on stage will be local and the set and costumes will be created in workshops with local youth. 

The subject of the performance will of course focus on the topics of Sinfonía Trópico - a celebration of Colombian biodiversity and the dangers faced by its loss. 

I am proud that the world premiere of this piece will take place in Puerto Gaitán, and we look forward to an engaging and entertaining performance, provoking thought  and discussion.

Christoph Schletz