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.
DANCE AND ITS DOUBLE
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”