Thierry Fournier – Outside Lectures

Outside lectures is a series of seven performances for general installation, each of them deals with the notion of “outside” from different angles. The concept is broad, and I have often listened to proposed alternatives for a more concrete qualification, yet I am attached to this vacancy, this openness. I am also attached to the fact that it is by experiencing them that these seven performances that with very different situations (be they political, intimate, collective, fictional or media-related) outline a landscape, an idea, a proposal.

The relationship between inside and outside, the notion of access (to wealth, to borders, to representation, to work, to speech) cuts across all contemporary situations; it concerns both the political and the intimate. Generalized economic liberalism no longer allows anyone to live outside of its logic. The only remaining possibility is measured involvement from States and individuals—resistance, according to some. This system is increasingly grounded in the notion of access which has gradually replaced the concept of property as a divisive issue. “The logic of access is now considered to be the door that opens onto progress and personal accomplishment. It represents to today’s generations what represented to those before them.” The  direct consequence of this “world without outside,” paradoxically, is that the very notion of an outside has become all encompassing and fractal, which is to say constant on all scales. It simultaneously refers to relationships between individuals and their surroundings, their history and society; to fictions, myths and fantasies disseminated by the collective imaginary; to state political matters: globalization, policy and debates around immigration, the hang-ups and consequences of colonialism, etc. I have chosen to address this question with a deliberately limited proposal that, forgoing the question’s scope, allows us to seize upon its tendency to multiply and cross through a variety of fields: political, fictional and intimate.

All of these performances develop a relationship with the outside, spreading it out by way of a specific apparatus and form of writing. If they were stories, they would call on different voices: some would try to come inside, others would defend or test borders, would describe it from without, and others still would defend a territory or would have recently disappeared… The whole thing is carried by the same performer, Emmanuelle Lafon, an actress who agreed to go along with a project exploring the limits of visual arts, performance and theater.

The apparatus is minimal and mobile: television, conference table, amplifier, laptop, polystyrene… Given the lightness of this system each of the performances can be independently worked on, developed and presented—I’ll come back to this in reference to repetition and representation.

One of the aims of Lectures was also to take over spaces whose quality and location also questioned the concept of “outside” : public places, schools, exteriors, residual theater spaces, apartments, … Each of these spaces is called upon in its ability to become a space of temporary representation. The performance’s form is thus defined at the last moment, according to the host space: quickly taking into account a given location’s characteristics, the system’s flexibility means it can be set up mere hours before the show takes place.

The performer negotiates the part of lecturer or mediator as well as actor, testing these changing roles: distance, immersion, interpretation, lecture, commentary. The spectators share the same space. The “outside” regularly intervenes: through television, sound, and the set-up itself.

Lectures is grounded in a curatorial principle. With the exception of one episode working with the flow of televized data in real-time, each episode calls on an artist or author who I have invited to participate in the writing process. The current list of sequences is a starting point, which is up for revision as these collaborations progress. No order is set, and all titles are provisional. In collaboration with the creative development team, the location (or locations) that host the performances could thus alter the project’s two operating levels: the choice and number of sequences that will be worked on and/or presented, and the performance site (or sites); a single space, or a journey, whether interior or exterior.

This project is part of a process of inquiry into the possible connections between art projects and live performance, particularly concerning the changes in the performer and public’s respective roles: spectator involvement, interactive systems, procedural writing. Lectures calls on codes from the visual arts and theater (narratives, systems, actors, performance time and place), et questions them in relation to the “outside”: varied source materials, heterogeneous empowerment, non-stage spaces, spectator involvement.

[1] Jeremy Rifkin, The Age of Access, The New Culture of Hypercapitalism, Where all of Life is a Paid-For Experience, Tarcher, 2001