Contemporary art in whatever form gives artists space of possibilities. Not all artists have the same capacity of self-expression and my criterium is simple: connection. I am connected to Bel’s creations as much as to Duchamp’s Fontaine.
Gala is the first piece I saw of Jérôme Bel. It was in 2015 in Nanterre. Simple, but sincere. He gives the theatre to a group of people like you and me. Suddenly it becomes relevant minimising the distance between the stage and the spectators. Two years after, when I knew that there would be a portrait of him for the 46th edition of Festival d’Automne à Paris, I was so excited planning to watch every programmed piece. Disabled Theater and The show must go on fall in the same pattern as Gala. Banal but powerful pop music moves away from the singer’s aureole to each and every individual. I will never forget when the song Imagine started to play in MC93. I thought of the 2015 attack and my warm tears rolled down in the darkness when spectators raised their phones with light.
Portrait series are my main discovery during the festival. Pichet Klunchun and myself is an appropriate piece to understand Jérôme’s idea thru gestures as well as dialogues with Klunchun. He uses the traditional dance as a tangible reference to navigate his philosophy which stays coherent thru all these year. As I saw Jérôme Bel previously, I can even better associate his explanations with the movements mentioned. The eponymous piece, for Jérôme, is already dated. I understand his point. Indeed it is not as provocative as it was twenty years ago. However, it is still something different for me even I have already seen a variety of dance performances. And spectators still left during the performance.
When to the documentary Véronique Doisneau, we finally spotlight a ballet dancer from the background. Etoiles have their own name; so do unknown « decorative » dancers. The best part is that this was performed in Garnier making the idea symbolic. Cédric Andrieux pursues the same idea completing the portrait series with a modern dancer.
In the end, except the already-seen Gala, I watched one less performance following its title’s advice: Un spectacle en moins. If we don’t break down the boundary, there will be no new idea. I can still remember my joy of observing audience’s reaction in Garnier when Tombe was performed. That is all Bel about.