Tricoter (working title)

6,7/05 > 20:30
9,10,11/05 > 19:00
12,13/05 > 19:00-24:00
Language: English

What is it that would make a young scientist, a researcher in molecular and cellular biology, to venture into the territory of contemporary dance? The answer can be found in Product of Circumstances, a solo lecture-performance by Xavier Le Roy. A Frenchman in residence at the Podewil, the Berlin arts centre, this choreographer is a utopian. Rebelling against hierarchy and injunctions, he is now conducting his research into his own body, right at the core of his performances. What is a ‘product’? Why do we see the body as an entity that stops at the skin? It is all a matter of perception. With other artists he has invited to join him, Le Roy is offering Brussels the opportunity to take its pick of performances, a series of critical reflections and a consideration of the issue of an author’s rights.

Une proposition de/Een voorstel van/A proposition by Xavier Le Roy

avec la participation de/met de medewerking van/with the participation of: Laurent Goldring, Jérôme Bel, Mårten Spångberg, Tino Sehgal, Grand Magasin, Constant vzw, Claire Haenni, Antonio Carallo, Frédéric Seguette, Pascale Paoli, Amaia Urra, Raquel Ponce, Annabelle Hagmann et autres/en anderen/and others


Self Unfinished

De/Van/From: Xavier Le Roy, d'après une collaboration avec/naar een samenwerking met/after a collaboration with Laurent Goldring

Par/Door/By: Xavier Le Roy

Musique/Muziek/Music: Diana Ross

Production/Productie/Production: in situ productions & Le Kwatt

Coproduction/Coproductie/Coproduction: Substanz-Cottbus, TIF Staatsschauspiel Dresden, Fonds Darstellende Künste/Bundesministerium des Inneren

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: Tanzwerkstatt Berlin, Podewil (Berlin)


Product of Circumstances

De/Van/From: Xavier Le Roy

Par/Door/By: Xavier Le Roy

Production/Productie/Production: in situ productions & Le Kwatt

Coproduction/Coproductie/Coproduction: TanzWerkstatt/Podewil Berlin, Senatsverwaltung für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur (Berlin)

Remerciements à/Met dank aan/Special thanks to: Chantal Escot-Theillet, Tara Herbst, Mårten Spångberg, Hortensia Völckers, Christophe Wavelet


Self Unfinished

+ œuvres de/werk van/work by Laurent Goldring and Jérôme Bel


Product of Circumstances

+ œuvres de/werk van/work by E.X.T.E.N.S.I.O.N.S.


Xavier Le Roy

Concept: Xavier Le Roy

Par/Door/By: Jérôme Bel

Musique/Muziek/Music: Bernard Herrmann

Remerciements à/Met dank aan/Special thanks to: Silke Becker, Jerome Bel, Katrin Busching, Rebecca Lee, Pascale Paoli, Petra Roggel, Frédéric Seguette, Maximilian Stelzl, Norbert Strache, Tino Sehgal, Claudia Triozzi

Coproduction/Coproductie/Coproduction: Time Festival (Gent), TanzWerkstatt/Podewil (Berlin)

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: l’Ambassade de France, culturele Delegatie in Vlaanderen, La Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles d’Ile de France, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Senatsverwaltung für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur


Product of Circumstances

+ œuvres de/werk van/work by Tino Sehgal, Constant vzw, Jérôme Bel, Annabelle Hagmann et autres/en anderen/and others


Self Unfinished

+ œuvres de/werk van/work by Laurent Goldring, Jérôme Bel, Mårten Spångberg, Grand Magasin et autres/en anderen/and others

Production/Productie/Production: in situ productions, Kaaitheater, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Présentation/Presentatie/Presentation: Kaaitheater, 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

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What is utopia? Xavier Le Roy’s answer to this is that, “Utopia presupposes a new socio-political model, experienced as a vital ideal. This ideal leads to the transformation of individual behaviour and the dis-institutionalisation of the relationships that lie at the very heart of human activity. Utopia challenges the conditions in which human activity is produced, but also the way in which, once produced, it is represented. It tends to destroy the constraints of the dominant authority there, its principles of hierarchy. I need utopia as a mode of action, not an unachievable dream. In his writings, the philosopher Michel Bernard stresses that ‘the utopian is not beyond reality, but forges it through the permanent activity of our perception’. So at my level, I am trying to invent methods, systems and concepts that are open to activating and questioning the perception that lies at the heart of our processes of production in order to transform the practices we use to survive.”

Xavier Le Roy studied sciences at the University of Montpellier. In 1987, upon his return to France from the United States where he had been teaching biology, he began a doctorate on cellular and molecular biology. To complete his thesis, he undertook research in a professional laboratory for three years. His subject was the control of oncogenes in breast cancer (genes involved in the development of tumours) and the research was on human tissue and biopsies. It involved observation, the development of a method for quantifying it, a comparative analysis of the numbers that emerged, reflection on how to produce an outcome, the final report and official publication. “As my work went on, I realised that 80% of our time had been monopolised by questions of ‘how to interpret the data to legitimise the conclusions we’re expecting’, ‘how to express ‘interpretable’ results’ and lastly ‘how to make them have a real impact’ in publications where researchers can be noticed. To meet these objectives, only 20% of our work was taken up with research and experiments!”

“As an idealist, I had thought of scientific research as an access to the search for truth. How come it was only guided by the desire to homogenise results that were completely heterogeneous? To respect the hierarchy of things? Power? Careerism? I lost faith in science. In 1988, Guy Debord, in Commentaire sur la société du spectacle, wrote ‘Medicine today no longer has the right to defend the health of the population against the pathogenic environment because it would be going against the state and the pharmaceutical industry. Science is no longer asked to understand the world or make something better in it. It is asked to immediately justify everything it does. To obey this ultimate demand – a manifestly impossible justification at that – it is better to no longer know how to think but, on the contrary, be pretty well versed in the convenience of spectacular discourse’. This account of things is very close to my own experience. Science only wants to understand within the limits of giving the impression that it is mastering the question of the human body and thus satisfaction.”

During the same period, Xavier was increasing the number of lessons he was having in modern dance. At the end of his thesis, in 1990, he cut short his career as a biologist and ‘escaped’ into contemporary dance. “I began a spiral of reflections, starting with my own body, trying not to forget that thinking is also a physical experiment. My body became the subject and object simultaneously, analysing and being analysed, producing and being produced.” Starting off as a member of a dance company in France, he moved to Berlin and began working on his own explorations. “I segmented the parts of the body, deliberately considering them separately. I constructed connections between them, perhaps a bit like the analytical methods that a biologist would follow. I tried working on the fact that sensations and perceptions arrange the mind as much as the mind structures them.”

In 1996, the Podewil, a centre for contemporary arts in Berlin, offered him the position of choreographer in residence. He produced an increasing number of pieces, collaborating with musicians, photographers and video-makers, that were featured increasingly on the international circuit of dance centres and festivals. Between 1994 and 2000, Xavier Le Roy created twelve pieces, participating regularly in experiments by other musicians and choreographers. He also conducted his own experiments with them, assembling them round the issue of the body and how it is represented. This dual journey of science and dance, and the statements and questions it raises, are the subject of a lecture-performance, Product of Circumstances, the first version of which was performed in Vienna in 1998 as part of the ‘Body Currency’ event organised by the Wiener Festwochen.

“With artistic recognition and the grants that followed, I found that my way of thinking had changed and that I had lost my degree of independence. I had gone back into a system of production, a way of working that imposed its format – a ‘product’ of artistic consumption. A fugitive from science, I couldn’t manage to escape what I had wanted to get away from. But in this particular field I was more autonomous. I could react in order to be more in harmony with my ideals. I had to work in a more critical manner, by examining the ‘product’ of consumption at the very interior of the performance to be consumed, the image of the body with the body itself. The body is not a stable entity, predetermined by a centralised organisation. It is in continual transformation. How can we become aware of that?” To answer this, Xavier Le Roy created Self Unfinished, a playful and poetic summary, inverting and disturbing the normal perception of contours and human morphology.

He also began the experiment he has called E.X.T.E.N.S.I.ON.S., inviting dancers, choreographers, photographer-video makers, philosophers, anthropologist-filmmakers, writers and art critics to explore with him the utopia of a new ‘model’ of creation – without hierarchy, norms or presuppositions. He gave it its title because for him the human body is an extension of its environment and the environment an extension of the body. “Our body doesn’t stop at our skin. Everything that makes contact with its surface and remains there for long enough becomes integrated into its image. This appropriation modifies both the physical and the mental. Examples of this include shoes, make-up, jewellery, other bodies, objects, food, writing, music and technology.”

Why are rehearsals – where the work is created and developed – so far removed from the performance that determines them? Why should we suddenly alter the nature of the initial quest? Therefore Xavier Le Roy tries to bring new non-utilitarian rules to the core of his work so that creativity can blossom freely. They go through the experiment of a game, without being constrained by having to be ready for a performance, a game with the extensions of the body – clothes, a ball, long tubes attached to limbs, awareness of the presence of the other person…

In the meantime, Jérôme Bel asked him to produce a piece that Victoria (Ghent) had commissioned on the subject of ‘mad kings’. Le Roy accepted the work as long as Bel acknowledged himself as the creator. “How do you follow his train of thought but then explore in my own way the questions raised by his dance? You are always in tune with ideas, not just his ideas, but those of others too that you appropriate and transform. We live in processes of contamination and unconscious imitation. In Jérôme’s piece, I had fun questioning how things seem – ‘Can I really see what it is or is it an illusion?’ ‘Who made me make a mistake?’ ‘Is it the way it was presented to me or my way of looking at it?’” The piece is called Xavier Le Roy by Jérôme Bel.

In Brussels, Xavier Le Roy is proposing to immerse the audience in the game of questions and reflections that refract his two wonderful solos Product of Circumstances and Self Unfinished, and the trompe-l’oeil piece, Xavier Le Roy. To immerse the audience in a journey that mixes the concrete of stage and theory, action and thought, he is inviting Laurent Goldring, Jérôme Bel, Mårten Spångberg, Tino Sehgal, Grand Magasin and Constant. This journey will be entirely flexible. You can watch just one piece if you like, or come after readings and commentaries. You can see a single performance or combine it with two or three others to surrender yourself to the echoes of their connections. You can come just once or several times, as the mood, and your curiosity, takes you. This journey will be strewn with questions of ‘dance’, but particularly with questions about how the world, this extension of ourselves, is organised. It centres on a core reflection – what is an author? What rights does he have and what obligations? And this is not just one for the lawyers to sort out!

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