Patricia received a creative grant to produce her play Dispak Dispac’h.
What is your artistic background?
At the beginning, before anything else, it was writing and inventing new ideas that mattered to me. To invent new ideas to change or transform what is, or to find what can bring about these transformations and to erect them as weapons. All this in the light of the ideal of justice and an acute awareness of the need to identify the relationships of domination, to change them. Before the image, before the stage, before the performance, before the cinema, I felt the need to say, to write, to invent or/and to formulate ideas again: a double tension towards the poem and the concept. A tension that I still feel today but which finds a dialectical resolution in multidisciplinary and hybrid forms, what I sometimes also call relational and perceptual devices tied to the world. I quickly found out that the subversion of the relations of domination went through the subversion of the linguistic norms which structure us or inform us subconsciously. No one is unharmed and it is necessary to go and examine where this is lodged. I started writing while I was studying and teaching philosophy, and it is through writing and the obsession with the speaking of language that I came to the stage. My first show, sx.rx.Rx, staged a raw script in which the author Samuel Daiber, sectioned in a psychiatric hospital in Switzerland, invents a cryptic language to match his confinement in the accepted language and the society that imposes it; a first show in which I tried to build a schizophrenic and labyrinthine space inspired by a childhood dream. The challenge was to lift the denial, to untie the knot of silence and to put the margin at the centre, by operating a normative reversal thanks to the creation of a common space with the spectators, in which to consider this extraordinary language as a resistance in itself. I was writing, and the staging followed in 2004 as a necessity to make this insurrectionary language heard, by making it shareable, because "Daiberizing" an assembly was revolutionary. I then turned to other forms of committed writing while continuing to write. The passage through Kathy Acker's writing was important, notably for the valuable revisiting of the situationists and structuralists, in which subversion was achieved through imitation, borrowing, incorporation, hacking, even plagiarism. There again, it was a radical ideological horizon with the will to part ways with the proprietary myth of the autonomous author, originally of the bourgeois artist, by putting in crisis the language which carries it. The discovery of the stage and its subversive and energetic potential has led me to want to return to it again and again, as if this common space-time were a place with a strong revolutionary potential in which to highlight its own denial. A place of incandescence and revival, in which to be or to emerge or to live more intensely together, thanks to the feeling of communion, through the detour of the performance and other forms of embodiment of the language and the bodies. I also experimented with the desire for utopia and insurrection in the form of a creative duo with Éléonore Weber, a duo formed with a manifesto that we entitled Symptom and Proposal. For eight years, between 2008 and 2016, we created for the stage and the cinema, asking ourselves and the spectators to examine contemporary symptoms in order to consider them as "propositions" through a dramaturgy of the question or re-enactments of role plays. Here again, the exploration of language was at the heart of the research, this time it was the neo-liberal language. We cannot only denounce the effects or misdeeds of capitalism, we must try to undo the domination that acts on us and in us in an insidious way, because we speak the same language. Neo-liberalism and the ideology of capitalism has created a Newspeak that speaks to us as much as we speak it. Thus, we used a humanitarian telemarketing questionnaire that I had found on a job as material. In the same way, we invested borderline cases to show their revolutionary potential, notably the argumentation of a wanadee – a freedom lover, a candidate for voluntary amputation, to unfold its complexity. If the predominant ideology is performance and surpassing oneself, what could be better than to have a leg missing, to surpass oneself continuously? Our challenge was to create reflexive and non-authoritarian forms by circulating questions about our intimate relationship to neo-liberal values. We took samples of reality that seemed salient to us and invented devices for listening or looking that brought into play contradictions or normative reversals. There again, the desire to invent new ideas, but also devices of perception renewing our relation to the world were at the centre. The critical function of the art was at the heart of our concerns, the criticism not being reduced to denunciation, but implying an attack on the structural psychic and sociological bases of the system from which nobody is unharmed.
In addition, the desire for cinema has always been there, I co-wrote a documentary film for the first time in 2012, it took place in Mexico, it was an extension of a theatrical stage work for the cinema, a Lucarne for the ARTE TV channel, which plunged us into a community of Hñanu-speaking Native Americans who had invented the caminata nocturna, a role-playing game for tourists that reverses the stigma of the immigrant in an embarrassing way, and it was this embarrassment that seemed interesting to explore: tourists enjoying freedom of movement are invited to put themselves in the "skin" of an illegal immigrant while real migrants play the role of smuggler or policeman. I continued this cinematographic work in 2016 with Eléonore, a work based on images of aerial warfare from a distance, these so-called surgical wars, in which the killer and the spectators are caught in the eye of the viewfinder, wars in which we have access to images of war crimes that resemble video game scenes. This was Nos Crimes Sont des Films at the Centre Pompidou, the second of the two pieces and the beginning of a new cycle. In 2016 was the first edition of ICE, the multidisciplinary meetings around the "self-portrait to" and linguistic, political, sexual and gender minorities. In 2016 I decided to continue writing an autobiographical text that I decided to bring to the stage, and little by little I became an actress or/and performer. I opened a new field of research for myself and others, around relational identities, around the "self-portrait to", linking the exercise of the portrait and the self-portrait. ‘Self-portrait to my Grandmother’ was created in several stages between 2017 and 2018. In it, I explore familial and societal denials, lost language, the oppression of universalist republicanism. I continue to perform this piece.
While continuing my journey as an actress and director, I then directed my first film on my own in 2019 with GREC, Reconstitution d’une Scène de Chasse, in which I continued to explore what I had already put into play in sx.rx.rx, that is, the links between fantasy and ghost. Phantasma. Art as an exploration of afterimages, in which we can examine the way our fantasies and mental images are "informed" by older images. And so, art can become an archaeological experience of exhuming the images or scenes represented, written or painted, that constitute our present mental images. It is a way of raising the link between the intimate and the collective, through the examination of art historical images. It is to suppose once again that we are not untouched by the modes of representation nor by their contents. I am continuing this link to cinema with the history of art and forms, with a feature film that I will finish this year, in 2022, and on which I have been working since 2016. It's a fictional documentary in which I'm interested in the mysteries of the reliquary finger of St. John the Baptist and pagan and Christian syncretism. It is a film about belief and spiritual life, in which I explore different ecstatic forms and the entanglement of the magical and the spiritual, from the Middle Ages to today in Saint Jean du Doigt, a village where I live half the time.
My connection between art and life has become a priority in recent years as I have linked my place in life to a search for art as a form of life, where the collective and the common are created from minorities. My artistic practice has never been only linked to the desire to create forms but always articulated in the desire to invent utopian forms, putting in crisis the dominant mercantile system. The seventh edition of the ICE meetings is being prepared in September 2022, it is once again a promise of decompartmentalization and the invention of a more human and more sensitive community. In association with the TNB in Rennes, I am continuing my work as an actress and committed director. Thanks to their support and that of Porosus, I have been able to carry out a large utopian project, Dispak Dispac'h, which brings together witnesses from civil society and "professionals" from the art world in an attempt to question what makes the impossible possible, the inhuman and the monstrous. I wanted to create an agora, an urgent and necessary space to look together at the making of our French and European migratory policies that must be qualified as "genocidal". What are we talking about when we talk about illegal immigration, smugglers and the dramas in the Mediterranean? We must go through the false speeches, the ignorance and the lies of the state to be able to see what it is, this unheard-of scandal that has been unfolding for twenty years. Therefore I have decided to present an indictment written by the GISTI, which enumerates the long list of violations of the rights of exiles. Once again, to privilege the performative power of the word, that of bringing about one or more changes. To invent an agora in which to listen, to look at each other, to cry together, to become more human again, because we miss this humanity, and the theatre has this power of reanimation. We suffer a lot from indifference and loneliness without knowing it, the function of the art of the collective is to bring us back to this mutual awareness of our vulnerability.
How do you view your profession today?
Before thinking about my profession, I would say that I am above all an artist who uses different mediums to express herself and to invent singular perceptual relations to the world in the hope that they renew our view of this one, even transform our existence(s) long term. To be an artist is to put in crisis that very category of profession because it is to live unceasingly in movements of rupture, of doubt and of solitude, it is to follow day and night in its obsessions, to be always in movement and in question. Worry and limitlessness are companions of the game: it is therefore more a form of life than a profession with schedules and rights to be claimed. That said, it is also important for me to talk about the different artistic disciplines and the field of art in which I am individually and collectively involved in a less romantic way! This issue raises the question of equality and inequality above all. I would say first of all that by living and creating in France for the performing arts, I am aware of being a privileged person who can enjoy spaces and times in which to express with necessity her beliefs and her revolts, while being able to draw from it an income certainly modest but sufficient to live, which is not the case in most other countries and which is not the case for many creators in France! This system of intermittence is precious but also unjust and insufficient, because it leaves many categories of artists and human beings on the side lines; we have been waiting for years to rethink the condition of creators, but especially the human condition. This insistent and precious question of the universal minimum wage would change the face of the world, it implies getting out of capitalism or radically transforming its pace. I spend my time comparing what it is to write for literature, to write for the stage and with the stage, and to write for the cinema, because these are absolutely singular and complementary mediums, spaces, times and temporalities, but above all totally different economies! What happens in mainstream cinema or in mainstream theatre or in mercantile contemporary art is scandalous and has absolutely nothing to do with artistic research and author's cinema or theatre. I dream of a more united and unified world where the human question is at the centre. I therefore wish for a model of wage-earning and solidarity for workers, where a minimum wage would allow everyone to live without work. And even to live simply and not just to survive. Today thousands of people can't even survive, they commit suicide out of despair and material and psychological impossibility to live. I am very uncomfortable with the privilege of a few creators who must or should have free time to create while most human beings lack time and have a vital need for such unproductive time. Our profession must be more open to the realities of exploitation that people experience outside the art world but also in the art world itself, which sometimes does not protect people at all. To think of a world of solidarity cannot be done without the will to change and to unify the statutes, which cannot be done without sacrifice.
How do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?
To take this question seriously is to face the unknown, my desire for the unknown, but also this unknown that founds and constitutes us, this "unavowable community". To take this question seriously is to consider that in five or 10 years I might be or might not be here anymore. And it is undoubtedly because I think of my existence and my artistic commitments in terms of finitude that I have always lived with a sense of urgency: urgency to live to say to commit to say NO, to invent freer ways of thinking and feeling. It is this feeling of vulnerability that leads me to put all my efforts into deconstructing, decompartmentalizing, destroying and undoing the modes of domination that have settled in language and our bodies. To take this question seriously is therefore to formulate the vow to persevere in my being and to exist by refusing what is, with a need for increased commitment to a more sensitive and just world by relying on formal audacity. I am looking for the link between art and life, convinced that art can move the lines by making us more sensitive and more connected to others. For years I have known that the border between non-art and activism are close. It is important to me to undo the mythology of "art for art's sake" and to get closer to creative forms of transforming the world. If art is a place of resistance and insurrection, if the world is on the verge of imploding because of the maintenance of the system of domination and capitalist exploitation and the inevitable rarefaction of the resources that it entails, I can only project myself in forms of radicalization of my practice and my life. The stakes for art cannot just be to denounce, or even just to make us dream, but must be to invent incisive forms that move us, change us and pierce us by making us more active and/or more resistant in front of the inexorable and the monstrous. And shouldn't these artistic and aesthetic forms also be forms of life?
This interview was conducted in 2022
Photography credit: Julie Glassberg