Choreographic works, installations, lecture demonstrations, pluridisciplinary collaborations: mixing genres, reflecting upon and redefining formats, Latifa Laâbissi’s work seeks to bring onstage multiple offstage perspectives; an anthropological landscape in which stories, figures and voices are placed and highlighted. Dance “codes” are disturbed by recalcitrant bodies, alternative stories, montages of materials infiltrated by certain signs of the times.
After studying at the Cunningham Studio in New York, Latifa Laâbissi began working with specific themes, including the question of the body as a zone of multiple influences, bisected by subjective and heterogenously cultural strata. Going against the prevailing abstract aesthetic, she extrapolated a movement vocabulary built from the confusion of genres and social postures, from the beginnings of modernity: a disguising of the identifications revealing the violence of conflicts involving the body and returning a twisted, contorted image.
In 2001, she created Phasmes, a work haunted by the ghosts of Dore Hoyer, Valeska Gert and Mary Wigman. She came back to Valeska Gert in the form of a “massaged lecture”, Distraction, with the dance historian Isabelle Launay, then to Mary Wigman in a lengthened version of her Witch Dance, which she called Écran somnambule [Somnambulist screen].
Beginning with her earliest collaborations, Laâbissi’s use of the voice and of the face as a vehicle for minority status and accents became inseparable from her dance movement. Starting in 2000, she began this process on Morceau with Loïc Touzé, Jennifer Lacey and Yves-Noël Genod. Working with postures borrowed from the grotesque, she confirmed her strategy of sliding identities and deploying different registers of representation. Figure is the name for this montage – in which auto-fiction, derision, statements, contemporary materials and visions and ghosts of dance mix and interact. In 2002, I love like animals continued in the development of relationships between the voice and the body, seeking to further disturb our reading of choreographic representation.
Digging subterranean links between the history of performance and collective imagination, the figure is Laâbissi’s tool for exposing certain symptoms of colonial denial/repression, and for turning against itself the mechanisms of alienation it produces. Created in 2006, Self Portrait Camouflage is indeed a critical examination of the images of otherness – somewhere between showing the body, a burlesque show and the direct confrontation of political symbols. Histoire par celui qui la raconte (2008) extends her deconstruction of the narrative and her use of the grotesque in a wide spectrum of references. In her latest work, Loredreamsong (2010), she continues this exploration in the form of a duo in which fragments of speeches, subversive rumors, states of rage and irony crash into each other, derailing subjective, political and narrative reference points. It is the unabashed reappropriation of an ambiguous imagination, manipulated by two ghosts as if it were explosive material.
For Latifa Lâabissi the artistic action implies a displacement of traditional modes of production and perception: transmission, the sharing of knowledge, materials and the porosity of formats are inseparable from the creative process. In 2005, she led the Habiter project, which examines different, everyday spaces using video. The opening-out of her working practice into other fields of research brought her to begin working at different venues, in different contexts – universities, art schools and the French national choreographic centers. During her guest residency at the Musée de la danse [Dancing Museum] in March of 2010, she organised Grimace du réel [Grimace of the real] – a pluridisciplinary manifestation putting into perspective the historical, textual and cinematographical sources used in the creation of the work. Sources, materials – documentary films, fictions and ethnographical, sociological and philosophical works continue to feed into her work and into her modalities in intervention, dissemination and experimentation with artistic forms.
Gilles Amalvi (Traduction Sara Sugihara)