The importance of a Festival.
Artists coming from all over the world attend to Festivals and allow them to compare their work and to affirm the importance of a language meant (maint) to reach perhaps one day the "Total Art' we dream of for centuries, listening to the critic René Déroudille from Lyon, who died 3 years ago.
To built a Festival, and I'm talking about a subject I know well, is one of the thing the most chalenging and hard at the same time that I've ever been able to know.
Challenging because the result of all this huge energy allow to reach the crystallisation which can only be if a dense artistic concentration take place on a length of at least one week.
This state favours not only meetings between artists and various participants in the event, but allows also, of course, to exchange ideas, projects plans, analyses and reflections of a situation and all this can only promote and develop this positive force that is proper to all gathering of persons engaged in the same interests and attracting mixed audience.
The crucial choice of the Polysonneries Festival to allow these meetings was made knowingly with the detriment of a more reasonable budgetary heading involving less risks.
As Pierre Restany underlines it, who supported with Orlan and Nicholas Zurbrugg, the first edition of the Polysonneries Festival, "the essential character of the performance, that is to say its interactivity dimension, has made of Performance an open space to collective expression and to dialog and information. The interactive dimension of performance takes a social value of particular importance. After having exploited the politics, religion and sport in their qualities of collective entertainment and management, societies seek more and more into art to help filling up cultural and human free times. Development of Performance in occidental and industrialized countries as well as in the peripheries of the world, foresees the answer that art can give to this social demand more and more explicit. Concerning this subject, the Festival of Lyon takes the value of an alert and of a recall to the order of collective communication interactivity ".
In addition to the well-known and recognised performers, the other interest of these festivals is the discovery - and the confrontation -- of some performers emerging out of the beaten paths. Whether it is by their strong presence, their brilliant ideas, the derision of which they make evidence, or the tact with which they touch the subconscious of their victims, their performances let suppose a perfect control of themselves and the great rigour of their artistic education. Among these "transmitters of signs of humanity ", Sylvie Cotton in Quebec and Myriam Laplante which lives now in Italy, the Finish Roi Vaara, the Slovak Lengow & Hermes (Michael Murin & Joszef Czeres), the American and theorician Coco Fusco, the Mexican Lorena Wolffer, the Americans Dan McKereghan, Jeffery Byrd, Derek Horton... and many of the young artists to be followed closely.
I really think that Art develops our capacity to understand ourselves and of course the world.
Today's current unsteadiness, recent catastrophic criminal attempts, former and present wars of course, opulence and obsessive over-consumption influence artists, especially those of performance, who get their inspiration out of social, of political problems to feed up the collective consciousness of nowadays.
Besides the fact that Performance is not sustained in our occidental countries, one can even state a real will to keep it as unobtrusive as possible.
C. Fusco, PFO, DK, 1999.
So, disturbing Performance?
Anyway, it finds itself reduced to a forced discretion caused by the lack of financial means necessary to his promoting and to a communication able to touch a broader audience.
In France, the pedagogic approach around this field is certainly not tackled by Fine Arts Schools.
Performance refuses to enter into a commercial system and that offers no aura in the opinion of contractors of this mercantile society always more interested by benefit.
Performance resists to all fashion phenomenon and that only offers a small media echoes back.
The liberty of this artistic form of art therefore takes a cardinal importance and we should all be aware so as to protect its existence.
To the word "barometer", it would be of a good taste to add the term of "counter balance", necessary to our current society.
There is no use to revitalise Performance Art because this discipline continues existing and developing all around the world. Let's just drive in the nail. For each event, a wider audience takes part, also often discover this artistic discipline and appreciate it. Full Nelson Festival in Los Angeles 2002 organised by Jamie Mac Murry gathered at the least 250 persons in a downtown theatre. It seems obvious that we are not talking about any ghetto here.
McMurry, festival Amorph 01, finland
This form of active resistance has always disturbed because it uncovers things one prefers to ignore. Its main quality (among others) would be its independence. And doesn't one always pay in return for its independence?
Then let me inform you about the new Association of the International Performance Art Organizers (IAPAO, www iapao.net), which was created in Essen (Germany) during the 11th conference of Performance Art organized by Boris Nieslony in April 2003. IAPAO is a gigantic central of information about performance art , IAPAO is a network that promotes and supports performance art activities and research. The next meeting will take place this year in Indonesia.
I just want to point out the great work made in Quebec by le Lieu of which journal's Inter is an unfailing spring of indications about Performance. The hudge wroten work (500 pages), entitled "Art Action from 1958 to 1998" covers 4 decades of artistic practices in the action field.
I can also quote the research work undertaken by Boris Nieslony in Germany and that can be seen on the site: www asa.de
And let you know that the Contemporary Arts Fund of Corsica bought a performance by Akenaton in 1998. It is a great first time as far as I know.
Finally I am myself preparing a book. This work will consider my point of view on current international performance art, not only through the Polysonneries Festival but also thanks to all the journeys I could make throughout the world and the research and archives I constituted around this artistic discipline.
For the year 2003, because of the lack of involvement of the City of Lyon and local Ministry of culture, it is with a certain bitterness that the Festival Polysonneries, considering the state of the financial commitments of its various partners, has been obliged by regulation to return the European grant. One must consider the fact that the local support is obligatory for a European grant.
What an incredible waste, without even taking into account the work already done, to prepare the 2003 edition, at a pure loss! Which, among other things, foresaw close collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts of Helsinki, Finland, in conjunction with the FRAME (Finish Fund for Art Exchange) and with the Echevinat of Ixelles in Brussels. The Festival should also have taken place in these 2 countries.
The result is afflicting!
How does one resolves without bitterness the loss of one of the rare places of discovery and confrontation dedicated to Performance Art and the authentic creativity it engenders? How does one envisage the activity of the organisers of such events linked to similar domains if they can, from one year to another, be completely questioned, which bars any long term strategy and forbids as well all risk taken as research and audacity which are necessary in such cases?
Is it necessary to remember that in 1979 the Symposium of Performance Art formed the basis for the current Polysonneries?
Why, here in Lyon, is there no wish to support independent structures, who work in the multidisciplinary sector to which official speeches today pay continual lip service? Why, with each change of local government, is the future of such manifestations questioned?
Are we eternally condemned a precarious situation, subject to the tantrums or the incomprehension of one or other official or politician?
More generally: should we resign ourselves to the fact that the end of the Polysonneries signifies regression and at the same time, an acceleration of the process that brings us closer to the non sharing reign of commercial and spectacular culture : catholic tradition, institution and show business apparently welded together and reacting in unison to liquidate liberal space essential to life.
The situation is serious, we must react !
For my part, I can announce right now that, considering the conservatism of the cultural politic of the Lyon's City Hall, the Polysonneries Festival will not occur soon in Lyon. On the other hand, in 2005, several serious collaborations' projects are taking form with several cities and within the framework of prestigious events in France.
Pass the word!