Originally inspired by Fluxus performance, where simple, repeated actions produced sounds, Fleury’s performance, with its own aesthetic premise, incorporates gestures from everyday life revealing the vibrational presence of individuals.
Sylvie Fleury presents Camino del Sol, a new sound and dance performance project at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris Pantin. The exhibition that follows, until the closing event, reveals the set for the performance and some of its leftover materials.
Originally inspired by Fluxus performance, where simple, repeated actions produced sounds, Fleury’s performance, with its own aesthetic premise, incorporates gestures from everyday life revealing the vibrational presence of individuals. The set-up allows for the poetic, the sonic and sometimes the absurd to bloom.
As in the events, dance performances and happenings developed by Merce Cunningham and John Cage in the late fifties onwards, the fusion between forms of expression combine, defying limits between disciplines while using technologies of our time and exploring our relationship to staged settings.
Pedestals, stairways, stages, and golden ladders are some of the few objects that are part of the set. A large overall projection of the golden escalators of one of the oldest shopping malls in the US is looped upwards. Like a spacecraft’s porthole, it might be waiting for passengers suggesting a potential escape.
Different characters enter the space, making simple repetitive gestures such as polishing a car part, drying their hair, snapping photographs of the audience, turning pages in a book. These actions produce a surprising range of sounds arranged live into a composition.
Discreet and elaborate technologies devised with the help of Diemo Schwarz, a composer at the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) translate actions into sounds. The performers wear sensors that trigger sounds modulated by the speed and intensity of their actions. With this system, the random, the accidental and the spontaneous cohabitate. The performers literally act like musical instruments playing their own song, which is then distorted by the technology, transmission and the intentions of the composers.
The mundane gestures act as reminders of the music and actions in our lives that produce our environment. A camera shooting releases the sound of broken glass, or an explosion, the sound of a page turning that of a UFO. A butterfly flapping its wings might create a tornado.
The dancer, evoking the character of the Serpentine emerges at some point on the scene as a symbol of the wild aspect of our consciousness that breaks away from the everyday into a hypnotic trance. This character is very loosely inspired by dancer Loie Fuller (1862-1928) revolutionizing the staging of contemporary dance through lighting effects, dress conventions and new forms of movement.
Within the performance, each individual is emitting a frequency. The piece examines inner pathways, and chaotic processes of elevation and emancipation. The costumes in highly intense colors are mostly hand-made, responding to the natural and unconventional body types of the women performing. They reveal the identity of the performers and partially recognizable personae. Their tailored outfits contrast with the loose white dress of the dancer.
Dualities are present within these attributions of femininity, slightly distorted in each of the characters, as is the music.
One of the very few rules viewers and performers alike can surrender to, visible or invisible, is the dynamic of infinite motion in space. The sign on the “shop” possibly symbolizes this. The word shop is ambiguous, it could be a store or a place where things get made or fixed. The shop in Camino del Sol is a heterogeneous space: a white cube from the outside; it offers a place to reconnect on the inside. The artist with the archetype of the grotto and the cave has previously explored this idea of hidden recesses and clefts.
The performance and its environment evoke recurring themes in the artist’s work such as the interplay between surfaces and desire, accessories and the imaginary, as well as the construction of identity and even our quasi-absurd quest for self-perfection. But within this environment, no brands are visible. Fleury’s traditionally recognizable casts of consumer objects, of Duchampian gestures are present but have shifted in function. This time objects on display are used as theater props. They are also like time capsules of other eras, anchored in the present through sound.
In this project, Sylvie Fleury’s approach offers new codes, systems and circuits of attention to substitute those she has previously explored, celebrated and critiqued. As one of the new light works comments at the entrance: “The only good system is a sound system.”
Curated and organized by: Sarina Basta and Séverine Waelchli
Musical research and development: Diemo Schwarz with sound contributions by Russell Haswell
Dancer: Stephanie Bayle
Actors: Cindy Bobbio, Asa Jonson, Lucie Muratier, Lucie Peltier, Pauline Richomme, and Lea Streck
Costumes: Laurent Mercier
Technical supervision: Lyderic Michaux
Lighting: Baptiste Joxe
Production and creative assistant: Diego Sanchez
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