Une fois l’an, je produis une liste de fin d’année tout en me demandant ce que cela veut dire. Pourquoi ces artistes et non pas bon nombre d’autres? Cette fois, la réponse est simple; ce sont les artistes qui, pour une raison ou une autre, m’ont aidé à vivre. Cette année, je voulais aussi relayer cet exercice aux artistes en question. Je leur ai donc demandé « Quel artiste vous a aidé à vivre en 2015? » Voici leurs réponses.
Ève-Chems De Brouwer, metteur en scène, Docteur B. (Festival TransAmériques)
« Leon Bridges. Sa voix et ses paroles m'emplissent d'une joie douce et profonde. J'ai eu besoin d'écouter son album en boucle. Tiago Rodrigues. Son spectacle By Heart est d'une rare intelligence. C'est une ode à la lecture, aux mots. Mommy de Xavier Dolan va de toute évidence m'accompagner de longues années. J'ai eu une maman qui m'a aimée passionnément et inconditionnellement toute sa vie. Elle aurait volontiers donné ses deux bras et ses deux jambes pour nous. Retrouver cet amour maternel dans ce film époustouflant m'a transmis une force incroyable et une confiance pour ma vie de maman de deux jeunes enfants. Marcel Proust. Lire Proust me permet de me formuler à moi-même, d'avoir une acuité encore plus grande à l'Humain qui m'entoure. »
Nicolas Cantin, créateur, Philippines (OFFTA)
« J’ai beaucoup écouté Daft Punk en voyage cette année. Il y avait, par exemple, pour moi quelque chose de vertigineux à marcher seul dans les rues d’Honk Kong avec la musique de Daft Punk dans les oreilles. Et plus particulièrement le morceau Quo Veridis. Avec cette musique, ma solitude prenait une dimension métaphysique. Une véritable mise en orbite existentielle en 3D. Un voyage dans le voyage. »
Geneviève C. Ferron, chorégraphe, Tout est dit, il ne reste rien (Studio 303)
« En 2015 deux écrivaines m'ont aidé à vivre. L'œuvre d'Hélène Monette, que j'ai découverte à la suite de son décès en juin, et le recueil En Chair et en eau de la poétesse acadienne Judith Hamel. C'est avant tout leurs mots crus qui me touchent directement. Il n'y a pas de pudeur; c'est des grands sentiments qui ne se cachent pas derrière la forme ou la provocation. C'est aussi les femmes qui m'ont offert ces livres: Lili, la fille d'Hélène, ma demi-sœur, qui a voulu partager un peu de sa mère avec moi; et ma tante Michèle, qui m'a offert de la poésie acadienne pour me faire mieux comprendre ma mère, née en Acadie. »
Julien Fonfrède, programmateur, La Cinémathèque interdite
« L'expérience Valley of Love de Guillaume Nicloux. Un film qui épure tout. Un vrai tour de magie. Je ne comprends toujours pas comment il a réussi à faire que cela marche aussi bien. »
Every year, I put out some kind of year-end list, all the while wondering what it means. Why those artists and not countless others? This time around, the answer was simple; they’re the artists who, for one reason or another, have helped me live. This year, I also wanted to relay this exercise to the artists in question, so I asked them “Which artist made your life better in 2015?” Here are their answers.
Sasha Kleinplatz, choreographer, L’échauffement (Département de danse de l’UQAM)
“The facilitators and the participants of the Get B(l)ack research project at Impulstanz in Vienna, Austria. This project focused on Black Aesthetics and Contemporary Dance. We looked at Afro-Futurism, queer black dance, black feminist thought, the Black Lives Matter movement, and white privilege, among a ton of other things. There were many arguments, tears, and deeply awkward/alienating moments. What blew my mind is that everyone stayed and worked their asses off to find a way to talk and work together, no one gave up, and many people had every right to. The facilitators, Thomas D. Frantz and Keith Hennesey, were so firm, so clear and so gracious, refused to humour any white fragility, and at the same time they were extremely patient and remained determined to keep the group moving forward in thought and action. In a year where I felt a lot of confusion and disenchantment about the narrowness of the contemporary dance milieu (artistically, philosophically, and politically), I was so grateful to have this wakeup call that IT IS possible to work rigorously and ethically. And that there is a community of people doing it; we just have to keep finding each other.”
Mario Lombardi, organizer, The Atomic Cosmoline Electric Symphony Orchestra & Plasmatic Choir performs Terry Riley’s In C
“This past year was difficult for me; 1) as a human being dealing with mental illness, and 2) as an artist trying to fight against the creative oppression of my mental illness. The following artists have been important to me throughout 2015 not only as a form of relief, but more importantly for offering profound inspiration. In the fall, I rediscovered the brilliance of Magma. While introducing their album 1001° Centigrades to my friend in the midst of an exceptionally beautiful psilocybin trip, I had an epiphany! I felt as if I was discovering this masterful work all over again for the first time. The musical ideas were so inventive and creative. We both were so mind-blown that we ended up listening to the album repeatedly. I was fascinated by the unique and insanely creative singing of Klaus Blasquiz. In ‘contemporary classical’ music, I became entranced by Claude Vivier's work. For the first time, I felt I reached a profound understanding of his sonic expressions. These inspirations have heavily influenced my most recent compositional efforts for acoustic ensembles. Punk has had a huge presence in my life this year: artists like Flipper and No Trend; the gorgeously filth-obsessed, uncompromising work of Lydia Lunch; the deathrock pioneers Christian Death and Mighty Sphincter; the legendary Iggy Pop and the Stooges; hardcore bands Minor Threat and Bad Brains; anarcho-punk artists Crass and Flux of Pink Indians; the avant-garde punk experimentalists This Heat. Punk has always been at the foundation of my artistic mind ever since it took over my life as a teenager, but the fact that it has repossessed such a high place in my art diet might just be the most important and impactful thing to artistically happen to me this year. There is one more artist I'd like to bring praise to, an ensemble with whom I've been enamored for years; CAN have become one of my most cherished musical inspirations. Their sound, even 40+ years later, still manages to be incredibly fresh and insanely ahead of its time. Their mixture of extensive improvisation, acousmatic music elements and monotonous trance-like grooves; their exploration of noise, electronic soundscapes and unconventional sonic textures; the level of ingenuity in how they smash genre boundaries while sticking to a traditional rock ensemble instrumentation; the magnificent Damo Suzuki's exciting explorations of new expressive vocal possibilities (singing in improvised gibberish, electronically manipulating his voice, using unconventional sounds). CAN has enhanced my life this year more than any other artist and I have a feeling they'll keep doing so. There's still so much I feel I can learn from their art.”
LISTEN to the recording of the performance.
Jon Mueller, musician (Suoni Per Il Popolo)
“Over the past year I was struck numerous times by the work of photographer Niki Feijen, whose studies of abandoned places are like the graveyards of Gregory Crewdson photos. There's a sense of lost presence in his work, yet somehow a new presence, or the feeling that you, the viewer, are the only one present. There is a compulsion to look and to be within the photos, which has been an interesting experience to me. I think the bigger effect is that this work has inspired imagination within me in ways that were more familiar when I was really young – mystery, the unknown, and the idea of building something imaginary out of that in whatever way I wish.”
Anders Yates, writer & performer, Playday Mayday (Wildside Festival)
“The Pajama Men. I've been a fan of theirs for at least a decade and they've been a huge influence on Uncalled For's style, and this past March I was once again able to watch them perform together live for the first time in years and it was pure magic. They know how to play with each other in a way that is both disciplined and reckless and clearly fun. I got to enjoy the perfect mix of classic sketches I loved and new material I got to discover and a couple minutes of one just spanking the other. What more could I possibly want?”
On April 10, Wants&Needs Danse will be presenting the 14th edition of their popular Short&Sweet series in conjunction with the Art Curator's Association of Quebec's "Envisioning the Practice" conference, which looks at Performing Arts Curation. For the occasion, here is an interview that had been conducted with organizers Sasha Kleinplatz and Andrew Tay for the 7th edition of Short&Sweet.
SYLVAIN VERSTRICHT: I've been thinking about [Short&Sweet] in terms of artistic direction and, given the high number of choreographers that get to show work, that maybe the best artistic direction is to have none at all. How do you choose who is going to present work?
SASHA KLEINPLATZ: I think what we do is try to get people who represent different parts of the contemporary dance community in Montreal. Basically, we will try to make sure we have artists who are young, mid-career, and established. We also try to have a balance between different types of work, i.e. artists who create more cerebral or conceptual work versus artists who create work that is very movement based. We also try to include some artists who aren't necessarily working in the contemporary dance milieu; for example, we have asked clowns, performance artists, hip hop choreographers and puppeteers in the past.
I think as curators we believe our challenge with Short&Sweet is community building and creating dialogue. At the same time we try to ask people who we think would make good use of this particular kind of performance situation.
SYLVAIN: It also seems that, even though the Montreal dance community is rather small and everyone knows each other, there is still a bit of a divide between francophone and anglophone artists. Short&Sweet is one of the few times when I feel like that line gets somewhat erased. Am I wrong in assuming this and is this something that's important to you?
ANDREW TAY: It is definitely something that we think about, and we feel like this is part of what makes Short&Sweet fun and interesting. Homogeny can definitely be boring and every good party needs a good mix of people. I think that we are trying to breed a curiosity among artists to see all the different types of dance ideas that are out there no matter where they are coming from. This curiosity creates an atmosphere that transcends boundaries such as language... We also think this situation is really unique to Montreal and important! I was at a symposium recently that was talking about the so-called anglo - franco culture divide and some people were arguing that a bilingual audience doesn't exist. I totally disagree with this and I think events like Short&Sweet prove it is an exciting possibility. I think we are lucky since dance is not necessarily a language-based art form and because of this we have more opportunity to cultivate this kind of audience.
SYLVAIN: For this edition of Short&Sweet, you asked choreographers to collaborate with artists from other disciplines. Dance always strikes me as being particularly collaborative, so I was wondering how this constraint concretely affected your piece this time around…
SASHA: I know for me it felt like an opportunity to take a chance with collaborators I have never worked with before. Because the piece is short I felt comfortable treating the collaboration as a blind date between myself and the two collaborators and interpreters (musician John Milchem, performance artist Adriana Disman, and interpreters Nathan Yaffe and Susan Paulson). We have all agreed that the process of the collaboration is as interesting as the outcome/performance. We were all just excited to see what working together yields. For me this goes back to the original spirit of experimentation and risk-taking that I was looking for when Andrew and I conceived of Short&Sweet.
Short & Sweet #14
April 10 at 10pm
La Sala Rossa
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com