Live Class



It may not have been the standout event of the 64th Avi­gnon Fes­ti­val, but in 2010 the Cour d’Hon­neur of the Pa­lais des Papes hos­ted a “drawn concert” by the li­te­ra­ry ro­cker Ro­dolphe Bur­ger with the co­mics ar­tists Du­puy and Ber­be­rian. Put on in this temple of thea­tri­cal art, the ini­tia­tive high­ligh­ted the thea­tri­cal qua­li­ties of live dra­wing. Pos­ted at their res­pec­tive dra­wing tables on ei­ther side of the stage, the gra­phic se­quences crea­ted by Du­puy and Ber­be­rian were pi­cked up by ca­me­ra and pro­jec­ted, in in­ter­ac­tion with the music. “They draw as a duo,” ex­plai­ned Bur­ger, “im­pro­vi­sing to­ge­ther exact­ly like two mu­si­cians. You can see the dra­wings being construc­ted in real time. The pro­jec­tion is ephe­me­ral and the dra­wings exist on­ly during the time of the music. Du­puy and Ber­be­rian be­come thea­tri­cal, while the mu­si­cians be­come gra­phic.” Both to­ge­ther and in­di­vi­dual­ly, Du­puy and Ber­be­rian have put on all kinds of shows with live per­for­mers, no­ta­bly at La Ferme du Buis­son (Marne-la-Val­lée), a thea­ter where Du­puy has a long-term ar­tis­tic residency. One of his pro­jects there was the Ex­plo­ding Gra­phic In­evi­table Show (2012), a drawn per­for­mance about the his­to­ry of rock music ( the title, of course, re­fe­rences An­dy Wa­rhol’s mu­si­cal and visual ex­pe­ri­ments with the Velvet Un­der­ground). In 2011 he was in­vol­ved in the crea­tion of Me­mo­ries from the Mis­sing Room, a show di­rec­ted by Marc Lai­né and ba­sed on an al­bum by Mo­riar­ty. The mu­si­cians in the folk group led by sin­ger Ro­se­ma­ry Stand­ley ap­pea­red and di­sap­pea­red as the set span around on a ro­ta­ting stage. Du­puy in­ter­ve­ned here as a “stage drafts­man.” The fan­tas­ti­cal, eva­nes­cent bes­tia­ry he com­po­sed sub­li­mi­nal­ly peo­pled the in­ti­ma­cy of the mo­tel room in which the play is set. The tech­ni­cal de­vices used here (turn­table, praxi­no­scope) hel­ped make the thea­tri­cal si­tua­tions un­real. Du­puy’s pro­jec­ted fi­gures un­ders­co­red the ghost­ly di­men­sion of the conju­gal dra­ma being played out on stage. For se­ve­ral years now, La Ferme du Buis­son has been wor­king to fos­ter con­nec­tions bet­ween dra­wing and per­for­ming arts, one recent up­shot of which is the new Pulp Fes­ti­val, a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­na­ry event held over a long wee­kend (March 14–16) fea­tu­ring se­ve­ral shows concei­ved with the col­la­bo­ra­tion of dra­wing spe­cia­lists: La Fille by Christophe Blain and Barbara Car­lot­ti, Le Mo­ral des mé­nages by Sté­pha­nie Cléau with Blutch, Qu’est-ce qui nous ar­rive ? ! ? by Ma­thilde Mon­nier and Fran­çois Olis­lae­ger, and His­toire d’amour by the Chi­lean company Tea­tro-Ci­ne­ma. These conjunc­tions of thea­ter and dra­wing bring to­ge­ther the li­ving and the drawn (whe­ther sta­tic or mo­ving) on stage. Their or­ches­tra­tions play with pre­ci­se­ly those codes of representation from which mo­dern thea­ter sought eman­ci­pa­tion: pain­ted can­vases, ki­ne­tic illu­sions, and ef­fects of fron­ta­li­ty and pers­pec­tive.


Dra­wing concerts (at the An­gou­lême co­mics fes­ti­val), cartoon improvisation shows, drawn cho­reo­gra­phies and per­for­mances with am­pli­fied dra­wing: to­day, ma­ny dif­ferent ar­tis­tic prac­tices are see­king to har­ness the per­for­ma­tive re­sources of dra­wing. Re­cor­ded by the ca­me­ra in real time, the crea­tive act of dra­wing is vi­sible at the ve­ry mo­ment of its en­act­ment. Un­for­tu­na­te­ly, this taste for dra­wing ra­re­ly pro­duces mas­ter­pieces. Still, suc­cess­ful ex­pe­ri­ments in­clude the shows crea­ted by Fran­çois Ver­ret in col­la­bo­ra­tion with the drafts­man Vincent For­temps: Chan­tier Mu­sil (2003) and Contre­coup (2004). The spring­board for these two pro­jects were two texts that de­fy adap­ta­tion: The Man wi­thout Qua­li­ties by Ro­bert Mu­sil, and Ab­sa­lom, Ab­sa­lom! by William Faulk­ner. Of the first pro­duc­tion, Ver­ret says, “We look for the tools that can trans­late Mu­sil’s vi­sion at the point where it meets our own at an in­ti­mate le­vel. We have our own men­tal land­scapes, from which come ges­tures, sounds, lights, images and words.” Vincent For­temps is a par­ti­ci­pant in this thea­tri­cal la­bo­ra­to­ry, along with dan­cers and cir­cus per­for­mers. He uses the old-fa­shio­ned “ci­ne­me­cha­nic” me­thod of pro­jec­ting dra­wings. He draws on a trans­parent sheet of plas­tic (rho­doid), a sur­face that can be mo­di­fied, co­ve­red with ink, clea­ned and co­ve­red again. A ca­me­ra pla­ced un­der his wor­king table pro­jects images on­to a screen that is part of the sta­ging. This ani­ma­tion ci­ne­ma wi­thout film brings back the world seen by Ul­rich, Mu­sil’s pro­ta­go­nist. Other ar­tists, such as Laurent Gol­dring, use more hi-tech tools to bring drawn forms to life on stage. For Is You Me (2008), which he concei­ved with the Que­bec-ba­sed dan­cers and cho­reo­gra­phers Be­noît La­chambre and Louise Le­ca­va­lier, he used a gra­phic board, a di­gi­tal pen and di­gi­tal ani­ma­tion soft­ware. Like a three-di­men­sio­nal blank page, the stage was the sup­port of both dance and dra­wing. Gra­phic and cho­reo­gra­phic, the show com­bi­ned hu­man forms, co­lo­red mo­tifs and mo­ving construc­tions, which in­ter­ac­ted with the two dan­cers and the echo of their mo­ve­ments. These visual re­so­nances and hyp­no­tic illu­sions ab­sor­bed dis­tances, angles and pers­pec­tives: the dance was echoed in the vir­tual traces left by the mo­ve­ment. Ma­te­ria­li­zing the marks made by the bo­dy in space was the main point of the per­for­mances/ dra­wings made by Tri­sha Brown in the 2000s. Wiel­ding sticks of char­coal and pas­tel with her hands and feet, the American cho­reo­gra­pher crea­ted what she cal­led “In­ci­dents.” By mo­ving over a piece of pa­per pla­ced on the stage, she mixed ac­tion and representation. The pa­per be­came the stage on which she wrote what, at the end of the per­for­mance, was a cor­po­real self-por­trait. Like a gra­phic ex­ten­sion of ac­tion pain­ting, this pro­lon­ga­tion of ges­ture traces a line joi­ning visual and live arts.

Trans­la­tion, C. Pen­war­den

Ro­dolphe Bur­ger avec Du­puy et Ber­bé­rian. « Concert des­si­né ». Fes­ti­val d’Avi­gnon, 2010. “Drawn concert”

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