The stripping of the eel
The essence of the project is expressed in sober choreographies performed in the wilderness of the northern Lac-Saint-Jean region, Quebec. This light and environmentally friendly intervention leaves behind only documentary traces in the form of videos and photographs. More precisely, the choreographies are declined in a series of performances; a sort of living tableaux in which professional dancers put on "suits", made in order to experiment the notions of border, territory, landscape and identity. I wanted to articulate a reflection on "nature as an opening to the world" and that, from these artistic explorations, a desire for discovery and freedom would emerge as well as an increased awareness of our human scale in relation to trees, rocks and other elements of the natural landscape.
This project is divided into 3 phases. The first phase consisted in preparing the ground for creation. This involved making suits, finding locations and developing choreography. The second phase manifested itself through the execution of a series of in situ performances*. These performances were meticulously documented through video and photographic recordings. Articulated under the theme: "Quest for territory and ecology of freedom and living together", these in situ performances took the form of wild choreographies during which the performers appropriated the landscape. Micro-events accomplished in places without spectators, these performances left no tangible trace behind. Finally, the third phase is the outcome of the two previous stages. It takes the form of a multidisciplinary installation: video, photographs and textile installation.
*This one-week micro-residency at the Energy sector of the Parc Régional des Grandes-Rivières du Lac St Jean, was made possible by a Canada Council for the Arts creation grant and a partnership with the Parc Régional des Grandes-Rivières du Lac Saint-Jean.. My team and I camped on site.
Quest for identity and shifting identity
By Christine Comeau
Like a synthesis, this iteration allows us to move from experimentation to the articulation of a concept, that of nomadism as a quest for identity. Here the identity is apprehended as the sum of the lived experiences, the frequented places, the individuals met. From then on, the work is decontextualized: it leaves the natural landscape and enters the cultural landscape, beginning a new journey in the eyes of the public*.
Throughout our lives as social beings, we are in search of a definition of our identity and too often we limit ourselves to what others (friends, family, colleagues) and society project on us: images, prejudices, opinions based on appearance, etc. We forge our identity(ies) on these misplaced beliefs. However, what society projects on us and what others think of us, does not belong to us. We are not what others think of us.
Like an eel that slips through our fingers, our identity escapes us as much as time, love, moments of eternity and inspiration. In my journey, artistic creation has proven to be an essential tool in this reconstruction of my identity(ies) since it took me several years to understand it and to start a process to get rid of it. The eel is thus a little (especially) me, as well as those who recognize themselves in this quest: caught in this solitude of force, between these white walls, our projects and our desires in suspension, sealed in boxes, dreaming of fleeing (taking the road, going on a trip). Through the process of stripping, this project reflects the inevitable path to emancipate ourselves from the weight of these identities projected on us: toxic relationships, identities lent by others that do not belong to us. The quest for lightness!
During this exploratory and creative micro-residency, which took place at the end of July 2021, there was a great stripping away of these skin-identities; reflections of a quest for lightness. Psychically and physically, the dancers, James Viveiros, Maria Kefirova and Sara Hanley, guided by the choreographer Sarah Bild and myself, experienced this attempt at lightness.
A publication was also created during a creative residency at the Sagamie Center, in june 2022. A text by art historian and curator Anne-Sophie Blanchet describes the project.
*Anne-Sophie Blanchet, in Le dépouillement de l'anguille, independent publication by the artist, Québec, 2022. Traduction: Christine Comeau.