After Chateaubriand's "American Nights"
Grand Projet Scénographie 2014 (MA)
Ecole nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
« C’était une de ces nuits Américaines dont je me suis rappelé cent fois le souvenir avec délices. »
(« It was one of those American nights, which I have remembered a hundred times with delight. »)
Je me suis rappelé cent fois is an installation and a performance based on an American night experienced by Chateaubriand near Niagara Falls when he was 23 years old. Alone in the forest of the New World, the young foreigner experiences the « wild sublimities of nature ». The opulence of the landscape under the moonlight overwhelms him with vibrant emotions and he is in communion with the boundless space that he fully inhabits. Chateaubriand set off alone in the discovery of America at the end of the 18th century, seeking for theabsolute other. A few hours before his transformative night near the Falls he encounters an Indian family and spends the evening in their camp. His American night thus also encompasses questions of the foreign and the rituals of hospitality.
Chateaubriand interiorizes and reactivates the memory of this total experience through the written word. His night appears repeatedly, over 60 years, in his multiple books, in seven variations. I see the repetitive, serial process, and continuous recreation of a unique experience in the text as living and evolving landscape. Its written description dissolves over time. My narrative is thus based on the construction of this memory, where the process of adding and layering confronts a gradual disappearance.
The installation and performance derive from a partition of words. Natural scenes of solitude and infinity are filmed at the same time in different places of the world, creating an immersive journey through time and space. The moving images and the actions of the sole performer unfold around the viewer, challenging his perception of scale, distance and proximity. Furthermore, the performer embodies the « stranger » expressing the text and evolving in space through sign Language. The encounter with the other is here transposed through the senses, playing with the tensions which lie between hearing and seeing, feeling and understanding. The public is thus invited to experience collectively a hospitable « here and elsewhere » and to engage new forms of exchange and perception.
Video footage : Sophie Kitching, Lucia Kempkes, Natacha Rottier, Hugues de Misouard, Alex Kitching, Valentin Maute, Juliette Monfort, Alix Née, Michael Bisordi
With initial support of Annie Mako, Bête à Bon Dieu Production and great help of interpreters in sign language Roxane Publicol and Karine Porchet