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<eyebeam><blast> Puppetry

[moderator's note: yesterday Sally Jane Norman, Déléguée à la recherche
at the Institut International de la Marionnette, Charleville-Mézières,
France, wrote a post to the Syndicate list <syndicate@aec.at>
<http://www.v2.nl/east/>.  Since her message mentions the eyebeam-blast
list, and touches on many of the issues we've discussed here, we asked
her permission to post it here.  We also asked her to describe some of
the fascinating work in puppetry that she is doing at the Institute.  We
are including her response below, followed by her original post to

Of course, will pick up with pleasure on puppets if that's of interest -
what constitutes a puppet is in itself a vast debate. The Institute
allows me to navigate in some strange waters, where we frequently have
to (expediently) redefine what it means to "bring something alive". Our
last  - very small - fieldworkers' seminar, which to a certain extent
focussed on ritual and effigy (Middle East, Africa, Oceania), wound up
with our postulating as a starting point for a future seminar a debate
on what constitutes art/ creation in various cultures. Remy Bazenguissa,
a Congolese anthropologist from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, told us
side-splitting stories about art theorists and dealers disembarking in
his home town and buying up the string-bound-sardine-box trains the kids
make and drag round behind them, promptly redubbed "art of
recuperation". Who recuperates what in this case ?

The next seminar will deal with gestures and objects - when you frequent
people who animate figures and shapes all over the planet, the "myth" of
universal gesture becomes questionable (I do think myths are
important)... But in other more metaphorical ways, there's a lot of
strong gesture, a lot of reaching out going on in eyebeam, a few slaps
and punches too but that's healthy. And as Brian intimates, one does
perhaps get to hear Artaud's scream now and again.

We have some strong moments at Charleville. Moments where, as Tadeusz
Kantor used to say (he's been and will probably forever remain one of
our catalysts at the Institute - the dead live on), as prime
"constructivist of the emotions", you don't know whether to laugh or
cry. So you do both. It helps and it hurts.

kia ora
Sally Jane Norman

[original post to Syndicate:]

Dear Syndicalists,

Following eyebeam and syndicate in parallel is touching and
thought-provoking - a new sense of space and its mutant geometries, its
own spaces that are at times nested, at times fiercely discrete. A sense
of the more intimate syndicate sphere I know so well and am very
attached to, where there's a mingling of day-to-day info and often
low-key chat, then the more public sphere of eyebeam rhetoric (that's
not pejorative), more or less consciously projected. Which also has its
twists - the feeling that some people are really reaching out and
meeting. There are those who seek to dialogue and those who seek to
monologue. Those who speak to make others speak up, i.e. in order
thereafter to listen, and those who speak just to make themselves heard.
I've felt the urge at times to respond to eyebeam, but have just as
often been put off (inexplicably) by the echo of the forum, by its
impressive colonnades of knowledge and references, by its imperial
scale. That's not knocking it though, because there's also immense
poignance coming through. For reasons I can't explain, but which are
undoubtedly significant in terms of how we live and invest (and
discriminate) these virtual spaces of communication - perhaps triggered
by your plea that we contribute, rather than just being idle news
consumers, Andreas - I want to write this here.

Yesterday, coming back in the train from a meeting at the International
Institute of Puppetry, I talked with a friend called Claire Heggen, who
directs the "Théâtre du mouvement"; she's a brilliant mime/ body master,
and is running a series of workshops in Madrid, Porto and Bratislava, on
how the town, the urban environment, is expressed, translated, across
the body, its movements, its deambulations. Calvino's Invisible Towns
read through gestures. In Bratislava, exercises Claire usually begins
with proved particularly deranging - things like "how do you get from
your place to the workshop" triggered violent discussion, because all
the streets have been constantly renamed; it was as though people were
reading their trajectories through different strata of history, of
cultural and ideological experience and identification - from Napoleonic
(and earlier) invasions through to Stalinism, through to a contemporary,
often random "nomenclature". Simultaneous mappings onto the same
physical space, the keys, the access routes being transformed by their
alternative "designations". And the anguish of lost keys - the
multilingual culture of an old European crossroads having been bulldozed
on several occasions into linguistic flatland, with the ensuing loss of
references, of possibilities to access the cultural wealth. Often, in
Claire's class, the only landmarks that seemed to draw any kind of
consensus were recently built fast-food stores - often "you know, the
hamburger place that was built where there used to be that shop that
sold beautiful handcrafted wooden toys"... etc.  It's giving Claire lots
to think about, and she's giving me lots to think about. Give. Donner.
Data. Listening to Claire and rethinking IO-DENCIES, the dynamics and
fragile, live tensions of urban space, where we have our own "collision
detection mechanisms" built in culturally, allowing us to side-step
excessively alienating places of difference. All this being bound up in
the way we walk. And the way we talk (that sounds like an old Eric
Burdon song).

At the Puppetry Institute, where students were presenting their stage
works, I caught up with an Argentinian designer called Osvaldo Gabrieli
who works in Sao Paulo. An exuberant creator, who's been working day and
night for the past couple of months to build impossible theatrical
visions and lives. A magician with colours and shapes and textures who's
been teaching the students millions of things they'll need years to
assimilate. He goes back to Sao Paulo tomorrow, and I asked him about
the fire. He didn't even know about it. He'd voluntarily shut himself
off from the rest of the world for the past weeks, working in this
strange hometown that Rimbaud couldn't wait to leave, with March fog
rising over the Meuse river, and had no idea that large parts of the
Brazilian forest were meanwhile going up in smoke. He is not somebody I
would describe as "insulated" or "unaware". His theatre work was full of
(enacted) smoke and fire. Lamps and cardboard flames. What can one say ?

Soon we have a resident coming to the Institute for a research project
on nomadic theatre forms of the early nineteenth century. Cultural
crossroads. The strolling players. She lives in and works on Bratislava.

Strange days.

see you soon

Sally Jane Norman
Déléguée à la recherche
Institut International de la Marionnette

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