With Yodel Portraits I created a vehicle to transmit some of the stories that I met througout my work on yodeling.

The first Portrait I made was of/with Erna Van Akkoleyen, secretary for the Belgian dance company Les Ballets C de la B, who lived her brief moment de gloire as she traveled the world as a member of the yodel trio De Edelweizen. Her account takes us also back to a Catholic Flanders with chiro summer camps in the Swiss Alps, the relgious riots at her home town and her life as a young woman witnessing the rise of Belgian dance and theater in the 1980s. It’s in the off circuit that a gig for a ‘revue’ with yodeling got a life of its own and started touring the whole of Europe.

In a residence in December 2012 at Campo the Portrait of Erna Van Akoleyen was shown as a one-to-one performance. Audience could reserve a ‘visit’ and see/hear the Portrait in a live and intimate situation. We chose an office at Campo, a familiar habitat as Erna is to this date a secretary.

For a second residence at Campo in March 2013 three more Portraits were made of/with Bob Vrieling, the second man behind Bobbejaan Schoepen, Dietwin Haegeman, an après-ski entertainer who scored a hit with his jodelhiphip, and the Swiss expat artist Nikolas Galeazzi. The Portraits were presented (three per evening) in a staged version for an audience of 50 people.

All Portraits of this first series were made in situ, in a short period of time. In the evening of presentations, one could see how Alpine traditions live on in Flanders as a diaspora of kitsch, expat culture, show business traces… Tiroler culture had spawned its own spinn-offs in Flanders where the country is flat, but the imagination peaks all the same.

Together with Jorge Leon I made video versions of the Yodel Portraits, which now feature also as part of mosaic video installation. The video’s are hardly edited long takes of the Portraitees as they bring their story and demonstrate their skills once more for the camera. This was presented in Kunstencentrum Buda, 31 January 2014 and (tbc) at CCDe Grote Post in 2015.

My interest in yodeling has not transpired since making the first Portraits. I made a series of yodel duets with Doreen Kutzke, Hola Hu and Kucku who are abstracted vocal performances that emit the stories that Yodel Portraits favors. I prepare right now vocal pieces with Arabic women on the cry or ululation, known by the French name youyouyou, for upcoming performances in Jaffa, Israel and Brussels, Beursschouwburg (November 2014). It is to be expected that more Portraits will come about fueled by the encounters that keep being the engine of my work.

Myriam Van Imschoot, Brussels, 18 April 2014

On the left: stills taken from the video Yodel Portraits Erna Van Akkoleyen and Bob Vrieling.

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