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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Boris Charmatz
Boris Charmatz

Boris Charmatz is the enfant terrible of French Dance.

He's back at the Edinburgh International Festival with an eclectic mix, as our panellists found out.

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)


KIRSTY WARK:
Before we go on to talk about the installations, let's deal with theatre-elevision, not quite theatre or television. You lie down on your piano, with your panic button.

JEANETTE WINTERSON:
Yes a rubber mat on top of a grand piano. I must do it more often! It's perhaps the most relaxing show in the festival. Whether it's the most satisfying, I doubt.

Unfortunately, what comes out of the television is like a cross between an early audition remake of Planet of the Apes and a kind of euro-porn.

These guys wear their jump suits, they paw at each other, stick their tongues out, have a few erections, bang on a piano tonelessly for a while and that's it.

We are told this confined space mimics the confined space of the television, but we all know that. We don't need to be told. It won't tell you anything about the world or yourself, but it might send you to sleep.

RICHARD HOLLOWAY:
I enjoyed it because I took a policy decision to nod off if I wanted to, and I did.

KIRSTY WARK:
That's what Charmatz would want you to do?

RICHARD HOLLOWAY:
I had a funny wee dream, in which I thought I was a chimpanzee in a jungle-clearing making these chimp noises, so I quite got with it.

KIRSTY WARK:
Let's pick up what Jeanette said about the confines of the box.. What came into my head was you see scenes in a Romanian orphanage of children huddled together, dysfunctional partly because they have been left there for years, their tongues lolling and so forth.

RICHARD HOLLOWAY:
I thought that kind of palsy stuff, I think most people like doing kind of funny walks and things, and I have done that. I felt mildly uncomfortable about that.

I wasn't sure how I was going to talk about that in a politically correct way. There is one word that you can't use to describe it. They spent minutes on it.

KIRSTY WARK:
I think it was a bit like bedlam. I suppose we were meant to believe that dance wasn't a medium suited to television or television wasn't a medium suited to dance, and therefore that's why the box was a constraint?

JUDE KELLY:
If he meant me to think that, that's not what I was thinking about.

When I was lying on top of this piano, first of all I thought hooray that he is experimental. Whether it's rubbish or not, at least he has the guts to do something different.

I would rather be bored 15 minutes with someone who tried to do something different than be mildly entertained with the conventional which you can see every day.

On this piano, it was entirely you and it for 50 minutes. It took an enormous responsibility and put it on to you. You were asked to respond to this piece of work. You couldn't look for any cues from anybody else. There was nobody else in the room.

RICHARD HOLLOWAY:
There was a panic button in case you got scared.

JUDE KELLY:
You were at liberty to let your imagination and your capacity for imagination to have images pass along the screen in your head in response to it. I thought about Al-Qaeda prisoners trapped without any space or legal representation.

KIRSTY WARK:
One of the things that was most successful about it was the sound speakers on your pillow and the speakers in the other part of the room. You didn't know where the sound was coming from.

JUDE KELLY:
There was sensory deprivation. I didn't find the content interesting but I found the experiment interesting.

RICHARD HOLLOWAY:
Did no-one else fall asleep?

KIRSTY WARK:
I think I had 40 winks.

Let's move on to Statuts now which is the ten different installations, plus a performance at the Edinburgh College of Art. Richard, how did you like making your own journey through this any way you wanted?

RICHARD HOLLOWAY:
I was confused. I half expected to be guided, having that kind of mind. I thought you would go from A to B to C and it would somehow cumulatively make sense.

I also felt that maybe you had to sit and wait until the thing was over. But you probably spent all night in one installation if you had done that. So I gradually got free and moved around.

I have no vocabulary for discussing what I saw, because it was alien to me. I thought it was interesting. I quite enjoyed the short cycle sequence.

I thought I could find a way of talking about that, man, machine, pedestal, being thrown off the pedestal. I was engaged by it, but I don't know what it was.

JEANETTE WINTERSON:
I liked the concept behind it, it works as a spider's web and there is a central performance piece which happens at a specific time and you have to watch that, and then you are free to make your own patterns and lines.

KIRSTY WARK:
The audience all came together for that which I liked.

JEANETTE WINTERSON:
Yes they must and then they radiate out, so you are making your own picture. Some of the rooms are filled with banality.

If you want to see a few scales and junk speakers lying around, just go to where they are refitting a health club. You don't need to go to the installation.

But other things were more fascinating so it was very uneven. But overall an exciting experience. I would go again.

JUDE KELLY:
He had asked a lot of other artists to provide work, so in a way he was collaborating without actually making all the work himself. That was generosity and democracy about artists sharing space.

Because we have such an impoverished arts education in this country, most people feel totally insecure with the idea of abstract art and aren't able to judge it.

RICHARD HOLLOWAY:
I'm a supreme example of that.

JUDE KELLY:
I think that's unfortunate for everybody, and not his fault. However, what was "the fault" of this was that it wasn't avant-garde.

It's been going round for 35 years, collaboration of this nature. The Festival should have cottoned on to this 20 years ago.

JEANETTE WINTERSON:
Why do they go on about these plates being powered by washing machine motors? If it had been landmower engines, would it have been more aesthetically significant?


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