Dying in front
Belgian director Alain Platel combines images of Louise on her bed of agony with Mozart's Requiem, a mix of world music and popular African dances. Disturbing.
Requiem for L. invites us to explore and salute the fact of dying by mixing European and African traditions. The show is directed by Alain Platel, creator more than three decades ago of Les Ballets C de la B playing on the handicapped body, the taboo and the unsaid, and Fabrizio Cassol. Fabrizio Cassol is a pioneering composer who combines the reinvention of traditions with a dancing mosaic expression in the Gotham Project style.
Reminiscent of mortuary stelae, black cubes of different heights evoke on stage the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, consisting of 2711 rectangular concrete blocks of different heights assembled in a checkerboard pattern. An 18th century accordionist with ample hair plays a famous motif from Mozart's Requiem. As in a funeral wake that would not have forgotten the festive joy of celebrating those who are leaving us, He is joined in a slow procession between the graves stylized by a South African baritone and soprano (Owen Metsileng and Nobulumko Mngxekeza,) a Brazilian high counterpart, a trinity of choristers from Congo Kinshasa and Brazzaville, two guitarists...
Combining African rhythms, jazzy emanations and lounge atmospheres, the live soundtrack will only interrupt its course on rare occasions. Later, white handkerchiefs animated in rhythm, jackets thrown like dirt on a grave, choirs moving towards choreographed ensembles, hands in bird wings flapping, palms chanting thighs.
Singers and musicians finally form a united community to sing a Miserere nobis of great purity. What do we see, above all, in Requiem pour L., which is too trying, even overwhelming, for some people an iconic image? L. alias Lucie, a former spectator committed to feminism and Africa. On a giant screen, the slow-motion and arty scrolling video in a black-and-white with a wide range of greys by Louise, a committed teacher and feminist, making her last journey to the beyond. It impresses retina and memory like rarely before.
On her dying face, passes in turn the unconscious expressions of dying in real time. From appeasement, one slips towards the Joker-like grin, the feeling of a drowning being, an aura that sees her ghostly image leaving her body and the fixity of her open mouth. Episodically, the people surrounding him lavish gestures, final words of comfort, so much the film remains silent.
To die, to sing, to dance perhaps
Death, as inescapable as it is scandalous, is here to be lived and experienced by proxy and projection, from which the viewer cannot escape. Hostage-taking of the gaze or revelation of the seldom revealed in this way, the dying coming out of intimacy or the world of palliative care and "comfort" as the American documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman had already portrayed in Near Death? A bit of both, no doubt. The filming of this "memento mori" was done with the full consent of the old lady. Who was a committed and feminist teacher.
Likewise, that of her relatives for its diffusion and its articulation with the show co-signed by a duo. The director Alain Platel, creator more than three decades ago of the Ballets C de la B, playing on the handicapped body, the taboo and the unsaid, and Fabrizio Cassol, a composer who pioneered the musicalities of world sound combining reinvention of traditions and mainstream expression.
Artist's website: www.lesballetscdela.be/fr/