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Ann O'Aro: A screaming and visceral poetry

Reunion Island's Ann O'Aro draws on a raped childhood to create fascinating melodies.

Ann O'Aoro: a work on the very material of language, its rhythm, its sounds. To say the worst.
Ann O'Aoro: a work on the very material of language, its rhythm, its sounds. To say the worst.

A musicality and a strength of interpretation close to a visceral blues.
A musicality and a strength of interpretation close to a visceral blues.

Like her poetic collection, Cantique de la meute (Song of the pack), which deals in particular with incest, a pandemic that has ravaged Reunion Island for decades, the musical work of Ann O'Aro, 28 years old, marks a resilient reconquest with an uncertain outcome on the trauma experienced. "I give birth to the poultices of sleeping words from my pain", she wrote for her title Viscera.

She was raped by her father who killed himself when she was fifteen. "I don't feel like I'm getting to the scream through the lyrics and singing, but I feel like I'm leaving. Originally, it was a cry that was voiceless, inner, present and impossible to get out. This expression of the cry gradually came first through the body. There was a cut. When my father killed himself, I flew to Quebec to study for a long time, becoming a tattoo artist and living in squats", she confides in an interview.

Suffering and dialects

By working on memory and forgetting, the singer wants to feel the dimensions and elements of a painful experience. Hence the desire to circumscribe traumas and dramas with a writing that allows several angles of view, to define dramas, with several angles of view. The expression in two languages - Creole and as an erased subtext, French, allows the one who was at the beginning a church organist to better understand the stakes of what enslaved her. In concert, Ann O'Aro makes her body an intimate, minimalist and intensely restrained dancing variant of maloya - at the same time dance, music and song - meaning pain, pain, malaise in African dialects.

Reinvented, the organic tongue is crushed, mixed. The use of Creole in eruptive images and a few gaps in French. In this tormented story that attempts to reconcile the wound and the knife, the young artist remembers the martial arts practiced. In this way, the force draws from the opponent's body, subtracting it from "states of the looted, dehumanized body." The movement is slow and the images are impressed by flashes less in the retina than in the folds of the flesh and mind.

Heading for nothingness and beyond

Giving form to the intimate, relational and social void, risking to enlighten the time of amazement, the sensations of emotional and physical anesthesia that follow the sexual assault, the feeling of sinking into madness, the resulting family and relational exclusion, such is the challenge that Ann O'Arao is trying to meet with a scalpel language that incites the imagination. "Rape is, along with torture, the most traumatic thing for a victim", says psychiatrist Muriel Salmona.

However, being a screen victim is not a destiny for the young musician, singer and dancer. "What I have left of the murderous father is to speak for him, from his point of view fantasized by my neuroses, to put myself in his shoes, to become him." A vertiginous recreation of the "body of my intimate enemy" which can jostle to the point of vertigo. But it is at the heart of a process of dramatic and poetic reappropriation of the violence suffered.

Bertrand Tappolet

Ann O'Aro (Anne-Gaëlle Hoarau). More information:


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