188.8.131.52/05 - 20:00 – 23:00 (Performance: 21:00)
Mescaline: a substance extracted from the peyote that has hallucinogenic effects.
Aristoklas: a quartet comprising an actor, a musician, a video director and a lighting engineer.
The quartet are in the process of tackling Henri Michaux, the ‘un-tranquilising’ poet, and his collections L'infini turbulent and Misérable miracle, both of which were written under the influence of drugs. Together they are working on L'ANOPODOKOTOLOTOPADNODROME (a machine for exploration) – an oasis of vision and sound, that theatre comes to disturb with words every now and again and experienced by the audience as they walk through the installation, their senses intensified, distorted and ‘mescalinised’.
Sound & music:
Bernie Coyette & Aurélien Chouzenoux
Claire Gatineau & Pascale Jehin
Loïc Vanderstichelen, Vincent Debierre (t.b.c.)
Bruno Marin & Erica Trivett
Dorothée Van Heymbeeck, Sophie Bertinchamps, Thomas Baudour, Vincent Debierre, Rudolphe Coster, Bernie Coyette, Ruud Verlaet, Thérése Marie, Jacques Beauregard, Bernard Silvoy et les 39 Marches
Nadine vzw (Bruxelles/Brussel), Parc de la Villette (Paris) , KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
KunstenFESTIVALdesArtsBack to top
He who having followed my signs is induced by my example to do it himself, according to his being and his need, will unless I am very wrong find a disengagement not yet known,
a cleansing, a new open life, writing in an unexpected, soothing way,
where he will finally be able to express himself far from words, from other’s words.
“This is an exploration”, he said.
Henri Michaux published L’infini turbulent in 1957, followed four years later by Connaissances par les gouffresand fifteen years later by Misérable miracle. Almost sixty years on the writer is still intensifying his ceaseless quest ‘for distant interiors’ – the most secret, most unconfessed spaces removed from ourselves. Under medical supervision he swallowed calculated doses of mescaline (a substance extracted from the peyote that has hallucinogenic effects). Seated in his armchair, he wrote under its influence – to unlock his senses, to travel without brakes through this ‘interior space’ that his pen transformed into ink, bodies and landscapes. True poetry, he thought, has to explore secondary states, the dangerous states of oneself, and search for the poetic area of the inner being – an exorcising form of thought. To the question “Where is poetry going?” the immobile traveller replies, “It is going to make the inhabitable habitable for us, the unbreathable breathable.”
Let us not be mistaken. The writer warned us: “To people who like just one perspective, there could be a temptation to judge all my writing from now on as the work of a drug addict. I’m sorry. I’m more the sort who drinks water. Never alcohol. (…) Let’s say that I’m not very good at being dependent.” He specified that “mescaline, where ‘time is huge’, enables me to write in the ‘fantastic acceleration’ of another tempo.” And he added without any ambiguity: “Drugs bore us with their paradise. Let them rather give us a little more knowledge. We’re not a century for paradise.”
In March 2002, four young artists – an actor, a musician, a video director and a lighting engineer – began a first ‘theatrical’ exploration of L’infini turbulent and Misérable miracle. Following Michaux’s example, they asked themselves how they should ‘disengage’ themselves and ‘get away from the trap of the language of other people – words, these clingy partners’, how to portray ‘in order to short-circuit’, how to arouse the spectator’s perception so that he ventures into the three dimensions of the stage as if into his ‘distant interior’? Cleanse theatre of its conventions of representation. They dream of an oasis of vision and sound around our bodies and his world.
This was just the start. In May 2003, they are venturing further into exploring this living representation of ‘the interior’ according to Michaux.
Anopodokotolotopadnodrome hones this theatrical hotchpotch of theirs, this interaction of the materialization of words, acting, music, sounds, images and lights. Emerging from the poetry of Michaux’s verb into the poetry of the space containing it. Anopodokotolotopadnodrome transforms itself into a installation dedicated to the mescaline universe in which the live performance will take place from time to time, ‘a place of passage’, a space open to the public where you stand and move around to discover what we are being offered to see, sense, touch and enjoy…
The journey to travel to the light of Michaux’s writing began with music. Aurélien Chouzenoux first composed what might have just remained a musical journey in the disengagement of the immobile traveller. But Michaux’s material decided otherwise, calling for an acoustic voice, a living body. The actor Bruno Marin had just spent the summer with L’infini turbulent. Fascinated by Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic studies, the word is a living material for him, a limb of the human body of language. How can this textual being be expressed and pronounced? In provoking hallucination, Michaux is altering his props, throwing extreme light on his darkness:
“ All drugs alter your props. The prop for your senses, the prop your senses have for the world, the prop that you had for your general impression of being. They make way. A vast redistribution of sensitivity takes place that makes everything bizarre, a complex continual redistribution of sensitivity.”
The drug compels the observant and experimenting poet to multiply the modes of displacement in writing. Images move – rushing, proliferating, uncontrollable, taking possession of his head and his sheets of paper.
Bruno Marin takes up the challenge. The actor himself has to displace his delivery too, redistributing the living word onto the body, respecting ‘the ocean of asides’ – some through gestures; others, the ones spoken, by exploring new props within the ‘interior space’. Following the example of calligraphic marks which the writer learnt with the Japanese painter Zaowou-Ki after becoming dissatisfied with words, the key is this movement of displacement, this disorientation of the mind, body and time, and then also this gentleness that is so much part of Michaux taking the reader everywhere with him. “Managing to convey his words without getting in the way as a performer”, is what the actor is thinking.
Aurélien, the musician, then begins a ‘pop’ montage of fragments from Misérable miracle, L’infini turbulent as well as some from Face au verrou. They are ‘pop’ because he is scripting them like songs revealing a story: “We weren’t going to tell three stories, but wanted to concentrate more on clear and strong moments in his writing and compose a story from them.” Martin Depaule and Catherine Brevers are now involving video image and lighting in the disengagement of the musician and actor. “We’d also like to explore the poetics of shadows”, says the actor returning from a trip to Thailand. “With them the body can escape earthly gravitation, soar up into the sky and fly away. Saussure liked talking about the spectre of ideas: ethereal but concrete, floating in the air, evanescent …” “It’s not about doing a 3D illustration of Michaux!”, warn the four. “Only trying to ‘be induced by his example’ inviting us to move, to break with inertia, experimenting in theatre with his mobile and mobilising decentring: an incessant interior movement.”
Altogether the production is written on the basis of four progressive moments.
- ‘The block of images’.
In a maelstrom of vision and sound, we escape from spoken language. Strolling in the space of the performance. Games of shadow, games of light, new postures and multiplication of points of view. The walk begins.
- ‘The chemical spreads’.
The high after the drug is taken, the perception of the environment changes, we don’t recognise it. The actor is in an acoustic relationship with the spectator, endeavouring to find the intimacy linking the author to the reader, articulated in words.
- ‘The trance / harmony’.
The increased but moderate dose brings ecstasy, bliss and tends towards completeness: body, mind and all elements around now make one whole with the same momentum.
- ‘The experience of madness’.
The dose is excessive, pulling the mind towards ‘knowledge through chasms’, the monstrous interior, the bad and disturbing double suddenly appears. The despair of mescaline-induced schizophrenia. A new space is created, the voice and the body of the actor keep duplicating. The space becomes a maelstrom, voices spinning, mirrors dividing and cinema projecting into infinity.
He who hides his madman dies without a voice, judged the writer.Back to top