Actions and Presence
Ritournelle by Anaïs Héraud
The space is an old wine factory. The room is stone built with a glass floor in the middle and a long wooden table on top. Large wooden sticks are supporting each other into a conical shape next to the table. Héraud is wearing black jeans, white T-shirt and black boots. She is relaxed, calm and casual. She says two performances will follow: one in the same room and another in the room aside with a 5 minute break in between.
The performance in the first room is composed of the following actions: repeating the word “Rain”, letting small wooden sticks fall on the ground from her hand, creating triangular shapes/pyramids using 3 large wooden sticks at a time, drawing lines, dots and crosses on the glass floor with white chalks while vocalizing the words “rain”, “drop”, “cross”, and finally making a pendulum by wooden sticks and white chalks.
In the second room there are some glasses and a square grey waterproof tablecloth in the middle front of the space and small, metal, typewriter-keyboard’s letters, placed close to each other in the back of the room. The letters are documented by a video-camera, projected instantly on the back wall. In this room she hums, throws some metal letters in 4 glasses creating melodic sounds, fills the 4 glasses with water, writes “This statue” on the tablecloth with black spray paint, uses a metal round stick to produce tinkle sounds, twists the tablecloth, hides a plate under a second orange tablecloth, pours water on top of the tablecloth ending up in the plate, builds two towers with glasses, one “holding” her screams and one her breaths, and finally uses the camera to zoom in, zoom out producing a shaky, blurry projected image.
Anaïs Héraud uses her interest in building, construction materials and sound to create this performance, exploring how this particular space influences her compositional choices and her relationship to the materials. The way she constantly changes the rhythm of the performance with sudden and unexpected pauses or new actions interferes with any specific narrative.
The performance could also be analysed from different perspectives like urbanism, in accordance with the “city” of metal letters and their live documentation and instant projection on the wall. It can also be analyzed from a perspective of nationalism, regions and power games corresponding to construction/building, the metal-round-stick-and-tablecloth flag, and the “scream” and “breath” towers. Additionally, we could discuss about the performativity of her actions and text. However, my experience of the performance and the reduction of narration guide me not to talk more about the representations but rather focus on her actions and presence. Her concentrated, casual and relaxed quality when interacting with the objects and space allows the audience to focus on the physicality of building, constructing and producing sounds. Even when the triangular shapes/pyramids were collapsing she was not affected by them because she embraced the collapsing as part of the performance. Moreover, the gentleness of her voice work softened the quality of the construction producing a small poetic layer to the performance. In the end it is always rewarding to watch performances that focus on the actions of the performer, composed and performed with such a strong presence.