Eléments de description non-critique

Different locations in the city

5, 12, 19/05 > 22:00
9, 16, 23/05 > 19:00
Cosy Media

26/05 > 22:00
Halles de Schaerbeek
Language: FR

The KunstenFESTIVALdesArts made a tricky proposition to Mr François Hiffler and Ms Pascale Murtin. They accepted and will be here during the month of May, hanging around the city and delving into the Festival’s programme. Twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Grand Magasin will meet the public. Their intention is to provide an unreliable, incidental and not in the least sarcastic reflection of what is going on in May 2001 in Brussels. The public presentation will be confined to an unusual outline, but will change on each occasion, dictated by what has happened during the week, encounters of the day and glimpses of productions. It is then up to members of the audience to follow what is going on and compare what they have seen at the festival with Grand Magasin’s twice-weekly version of events.

Concept: Grand Magasin

Avec/Met/With: Pascale Murtin & François Hiffler (réceptionnistes/onthaalpersoneel/receptionists), Bettina Atala (correspondant spécial/speciaal correspondent/special correspondent) et quelques autres contemporains/en enkele andere tijdgenoten/and a few other contemporaries

Production/Productie/Production: Grand Magasin (Paris), KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: l'Association Française d'Action Artistique et le service de coopération et d'action culturelle de l'ambassade de France à Bruxelles

Présentation/Presentatie/Presentation: KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Back to top

In July 2000, when Provence was being soothed by the lazy song of the cicada, the idea came about of asking the innocent Grand Magasin to come and spend three weeks in Brussels. They could hang around the city and gather ideas from the Festival’s programme before turning their musings into an event for the delectation of an audience. The event would take the form of two gatherings a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the subject of which would in effect be a living dissertation: “What is your experience of the ‘international contemporary performing arts festival’ taking place in Brussels in the spring? What reflections would your ‘fantasy’ impart to the audience?”

Why should this task fall to Ms Pascale Murtin and Mr François Hiffler – two people who did everything to remain unnoticed? Simply because they have secretly been cultivating the ‘very Cubist’ talent of breaking up the contours of the familiar and isolating the scattered pieces of its context, prior to putting them back together askew. Any action performed on stage becomes the subject of their experiment. As they do not want – and are not able – to theorise about the universe as a whole, our two amateur detectives attempt to capture the delicate gleam of what is happening on the surface, with the inordinate love of work well done and the serious and amused detachment that befits very shy people so well. “It is a question of choosing uncertainty rather than what we already know. Or even, perhaps, of not distinguishing between what we already know and uncertainty, between the object and the reflection, between something solid and the appearance of solidity. Enjoying appearances, enjoying surfaces. Not worrying about being duped. People who let themselves be taken in are wiser than those who never allow themselves to be surprised,” says Gilbert Lascault. Or the accomplished art of transforming the base metal of facts into golden nuggets of incongruities. However, Grand Magasin do make careful and parsimonious use of their weapons of language and objects, “a mine of words and props imposed on us, a vast supply available to everyone that we can draw from and move around in.”

September 2000. “Those known as Grand Magasin, accompanied by Jura cows, ruminated over the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts’ tricky but flattering proposition for the rest of the summer without coming up with a very clear idea of things. A diary of what we digested follows.”
- Claiming incapability as our driving force and ignorance as our method, it seemed too difficult for us to pose as well-informed critics. We don’t care about appearing intelligently caustic or being ingenuous chroniclers or indeed humorous pains in the neck.
- We have a distrust of parody.
- We do not make a good audience and rebel against feeling any kind of empathy. We would get worn out and our minds deadened if we were to see several performances within a short space of time.
- We like Brussels a lot.
- Could we find a non-critical way of describing productions without imposing value judgements, for example by recalling the length of the production, the number, height and weight of the people involved, the cost of seats, what the places they were held in looked like?
- Another form of non-critical description: an account of what was taking place elsewhere at the same time and, more generally, meditating on the number of events that are taking place simultaneously with those contained in the Festival’s programme.
- An interesting objective: to come up with a performance form that can be continually adjusted and remodelled depending on the context.
- A wager for us: could we adapt quickly to the situation, knowing that we are very slow at repartee, reacting and, more generally, creating our masterpieces?

October. In the little old bar and hotel in suburban Alfortville where they have taken up residence, Grand Magasin are preparing to present their latest work, a diptych entitled L’art du remplissage [The art of padding out] or 2 tentatives d’occuper le temps et l’espace [2 attempts at occupying time and space], made up of Je meurs de seuf [I’m dying of thirst], a ‘ballet’ they have created for solo ‘dancer’, Christophe Salengro, “around twenty extremely simple gesticulations, combined haphazardly by drawing lots to determine the hotchpotch of the day for each performance”, and Meilleur moment [The best moment] subtitled mélancolie [melancholy], 60 miniatures to fight against the passing seconds, “presented in entertaining disorder”. And there is something new - a geographical depiction of their brouillards journaliers,the haze of their daily musings and meanderings.

Brussels in May will be the first time that they will not be determining every tiny detail of their intervention in advance.
Pascale: For us and for everyone else, the month of May 2001 will be a discovery.
François: Our element of non-critical description will provide an unreliable, incidental and not in the least sarcastic reflection of it.
Pascale: Contrary to what we normally do, we won’t have prepared everything in advance. We will be limited to developing the directions we will take and the tools, a means of describing performances and events in our own way. Allowing in the uncertainties of the outside world, opening wide the doors and windows, is something completely new for us.
François : We’ve worked out codes and an alphabet that are personal, arbitrary and not at all universal. We’ll tell the audience about them. We’ll be anxious to find out what is happening elsewhere.
Pascale: Does something happening a long way away change anything going on here? Worrying about this kind of thing comes close to paranoia.
François: It could be a pleasure…
Pascale: an escape even.
François: The world doesn’t stop going round because we spend an hour together.

Back to top