Departures and Arrivals



Corps Archivés - Interview with Claire Buisson
Rita Natálio


“Corps Archivés" (Archived bodies) is a project in residency in Alkantara proposed by the French artist based in Lisbon Claire Buisson. The project is about the construction of the self explored through posture and a multiplicity of resources. It is a project for one performer with several resources . Archive images of German dancers from the 20’s, women from the 20’s, revisiting relational objects from Lygia Clark, black american music from the 60’s, texts, voice(s) are part of the research that will take place in Lisbon between 16th november and 15th december. The project frontally addresses the issue of constructing the self. Which are the social and body conditions in one's construction? How does the subject position itself in a process of self-determination?


Julia Marcus


RESIDENCY SHOWING - 10th december at Alkantara space

PREMIERE - 29th March 2016 at Festival Grand Bain




RITA NATÁLIO (RN) - What was the starting point of your project “Corps archivés” (Archived bodies) that is now starting a residency in Alkantara?

CLAIRE BUISSON (CB) - “Corps archivés" started from the question: how do I relate to “body postures” documents? How do they affect me? I did a previous intuitive selection that responded to a certain position (or rather re-position) in relation to the social inscription I was perceiving in the documents. All the documents led to the question of taking a position as a subject in order to create his/her own personal or autonomous position. It was about taking a position and not entering into the position we are expected to have. In this way, I can create a posture of myself through a process of construction. It is not something stable, fix, definitive. It is something that has to be constantly re-propose, re-adjust. It is mobile. And so it is in-between form and informal. At the same time that I take a position, it draws a certain form. But this form will have to be transformed in order me to maintain the posture of "I decide of my own position". It is a process of change, in relation to the context, in relation to myself. The form will be constantly transformed.
The fact that I have been struck since the beginning by “photographic bodies” is linked to that. I work with different photographic sources, which are linked to this issue of position. Embodying these bodies is about being still and at the same time being in this subtle inner embedded re-adjustment and getting consistency through this. It is an experience of being contained. In these photographs, individual stories that don't fit into the norms construct their social and personal life by constantly inventing themselves. They re-invent their frames. They don't rest on existing frames. Look for instance at Germain Krull auto-biographic writing; to Lygia Clark's work about the construction of the self, the self as a globality - psychological, social, embedded - and her own life, a white woman from the upper class in Rio, inventing her own place and escaping to what she was expected to be. The project started to be defined around these issues of posture-containment-construction of self-affirmation.
Secondly, I was also interested in adding another layer of « containment » through music. I started exploring some Brazilian musics of the 60's (Chico Buarque music « Partido Alto », song by Caetano Veloso) and wanted to explore the music of the 60's in the US around the context of Black American movement. I talked with Thomas Walgrave, who participated with TG Stan 20 years ago in a piece in Oakland (« One 2 Life ») based on George Jackson’s letters. Through this discussion, it opened a new pool for the project and a new layer of documents to relate to as I started to work with non-photographic documents.
This offered me a different approach. I first encountered musics (such as Last Poets, Max Roach, Nancy Dupree). Then I did some readings and watched some movies, such as Agnès Varda documentary "Black Panthers" (1968) or "Black Power Mixtape" (2011). So, in this case, the sources I use are not images of one body, but moving images of several bodies, people gathered, groups. Even the music I am using from this period (such as Last Poets's song "Panthers" or Max Roach's piece "Tryptich") is collective music, played either with several instruments or several voices. The relation is not anymore about one individual and me, but about one collectivity and me. Although through these archives I was in contact with individual "stories", such as Angela Davis or George Jackson’s individual stories, they were more clearly contextualized in a community which was by that time naming itself for fighting for its existence.
The way I got in contact with these second range of documents was “physically” different. With the pictures of the 20's, I was embodying them and working physically on the anatomy, in entering and exiting these anatomies, whereas with the documents of the 60's, I immersed myself in words, sounds, stories told by them, images. From that process, I had images that came in my mind and put them in space with my body.
Nevertheless, all along this process, I did not mean to be the other, neither to pretend being the other. It was much more “anthropophagic". I was observing and absorbing. I let my body process imagery in a sensitive dimension and be nourished by the social political meaning and strength that the archives contain. I worked on re-formulating the imaginary through a performative apparatus in order to share it with an audience.
I guess, finally, my point is to share this issue of constructing yourself as a social and political subject and creating frames. I wish the audience can go through the initial question I gave to me: how do I relate to them? How does it affect me? How do I position myself?

 ©Claire Buisson


RN - The activation of documents around body postures carry a cultural context and, thus, it implies an ethical discussion around the use of documents and archives displays. How do you see this ethical issue? Did this ethical issue influenced the choice of documents, your physical experimentation and your assemblage criteria?

CB - What I understand of your question is how do I personally consider the ethical issue in the fact of working on and with archives from different contexts which I don't belong to. First of all, I work through a very intuitive process and early assumed it as a statement. I work through assemblage both in the way I have been collecting the sources and in the way I am working now on the dramaturgy of the piece (I wish to work further on an editorial proposal and an audio-installation). I am interested in putting things together and how their combination can create a new meaning.
But obviously the sources I put together have differences: their historical context, their political context, the nature of the documents (photographs, texts, music…). Nevertheless, I think they do have a common point, which is the center of my project: how do you position yourself within the normativity of society?
It is through this issue that I encountered the different documents I am now working with. The issue of ethics is a question that emerged later in the process. While I was working with the photographs of women of the 20's (white women european bodies), I did not question myself so much about this ethic issue and neither did others. This question came to the forth when I opened my archives to the context of the 60's in the US through the context of the Civil Right movement. At that point people started asking me how I was positioning myself in relation to the black body as a white person.
Answering you now I am realizing that this is quite awkward: me embodying a black body generates a question about ethics while me embodying a white body from the 20's doesn’t bring to the forth any kind of question, not of this kind at least. I would say I feel uncomfortable with the difference of treatment of the question. Both cases should be questioned in the same way. In both cases we are speaking of subjects that of contexts I don't belong to. I consider that the question of the legitimacy of me embodying these bodies is in both case important, or in both case should not matter. Otherwise it is re-proposing a hierarchy, a distinction in the consideration of white body and black body and somehow it refers again to some kind of condescension to a politically correct position. Which at the end is as questionable as my own action of embodying these bodies.
Two weeks ago, I saw Joris Lacoste’s "Encyclopedie de la parole n°2". In this project, they present different speeches from different medias, from different sources, from all over the world. They present these speeches through the action of talking. Olivier Normand (performer) presents the words of a Syrian who criticizes Bachar el-Assad. Another performer presents a conversation from a woman in a call center in Bogota, etc… And I was thinking: that's right! There is no problem that despite the real citizenship of each performer, the color of skin of each performer, the religion of each performer performing on stage, they can cross these different contexts. The piece is about orality, it is clearly embracing the whole diversity of spoken word contexts and erasing any kind of contradiction or impossibility. This piece helped me to free myself from doubts.

Jo Mihaly in "Der Arbeiter"

©Claire Buisson


RN - In your work process you develop a methodology - a protocol - where you ask to several people what they feel and perceive regarding a body posture photograph or a film excerpt. How does this works?

CB - I am proposing this protocol in order to collect texts and recorded voices which I will then use in the piece. I propose two different protocols: one from pictures from the archives of the 20's, one from an extract of the documentary “Last Poets: Right On !“. Since the beginning I knew I wanted to work with different layers, images, words, body. I had in mind Agnès Varda's short movies, which were constructed through this polyvalent assemblage. During the residency in O Rumo O Fumo (July 2015/Lisbon), I did a first experiment resulting into a short voice editing using the voice of my friend Filipa Matta responding to a first protocol I had proposed, an extract of Lygia Clark, and an extract of Angela Davis. It was adding others voices upon my body. It was not anymore just about me and the archives. But it was proposing different points of view in relation to them. Conceptually I was interested in creating a community of voices. It referred to all these individuals being part of larger communities, invisible or visible, unconscious or conscious. I decided then that I wanted to experiment a whole dramaturgy of voices from people from different ages, classes, cultures, languages, also integrating my own current geography, moving from France to Portugal and Brazil. I was interested in being informed by the realities I could meet in these different territories. Right now I am sending it to my circle (from friends to working connections) and trying to organize informal encounters in different contexts to propose it.

Recording made in October 2015 with the pupils of Collège Sévigny-Roubaix (France)



RN - That is why you also propose these “protocols” in different social contexts? You have asked theses questions to teenagers in Roubaix (France), and you wish to propose it into others contexts. Why are you interested in proposing the analyses of body imagery to these groups? Is there a political intention in your work?

CB - My interest for working out of the artistic context is not specific to this current project. I have been working in the last 4 yours in this sense. My first project “je suis un poumon” has been partly developed through a one-year inscription in a psychiatric hospital. I have been also doing laboratories in schools, mainly schools in the peripheral area of Lille (France) which is a territory facing social void and marginalization. Currently, I am in discussion with the Fondation de l'Armée du Salut and its consultative committee about social insertion constituted of people in situation of re-insertion who are involved in decision making on this issue. We are discussing the possibility of a collaboration for next year.
This is for me a necessity to share my social and political concerns with a broader community. My necessity is to relate to the individual within a group and to bring them to be more conscious of their “frames”. By “frame”, I am speaking of different aspects. First of all to be conscious of the frame of our body. The body is also a frame, a frame that affects and conditions our relation with the exterior, and our position within the society and the collective context. Consciousness of the frames means also to be conscious that the way we live is “framed”. And it can also be “de-framed,” “re-framed”, “trans-framed”. I feel this is something we are missing. Society needs to be more conscious that everything is about construction and that we have the possibility to transform things and to create other frames. We don't necessarily have to fit into the already existing frames. So this is the point: the frame, the space between the frame as a place of alienation and the frame as a place of emancipation. And the possibility of playing with the frames, questioning them, re-inventing them and as such develop a mobility. In this sense, all these archives are completely political, even the ones which are not directly connected to an explicit political movement. I want to connect with people who are somehow experiencing the limitations of frames. Thinking for instance of my experience with the children at school, the system is already putting them in the margin and as a consequence they lack self-confidence. I want them to speak, to do it to experience it, to be aware they have things to say and that what they say worth being said and listened!
This is really central in my whole artistic approach. And something I want to share with audiences, not only through a piece, but also through being in contact with them, working together with them.










PROTOCOLS #1 and #2