“- You’re not afraid of the white canvas?
- The canvas isn’t white! It’s black, black with all the history of painting and with what I myself have done. It thus needs to be whitened and not blackened. That is, a first touch of red on the apparently white canvas: the red starts by fading, then it whitens, frees the canvas from all the past blacknesses that cover it. But, immediately, it feels alone, it requests, asks, begs, demands a green colour to dance with it [ ... ... ] ”
GF - 1970, ballet Hymnen
“But you know, my dear Gérard Fromanger, red isn’t the only colour in life!”, Karlheinz Stockhausen wrote to me a few months ago. How right he is! Taking into account this common sense remark and as is my wont in my paintings, for Hymnen I wanted to give each of the colours in the spectrum a chance (the warm ones: red, orange, yellow, and the cold ones: blue, green, purple, not to forget black and white).
In Hymnen, Stockhausen deconstructs, crushes, elongates, reduces, mixes all noises and sounds (national anthems, birds’ songs, machines, breaths, human voices, etc.) to create an immense music.
Lia Rodrigues, Didier Deschamps and myself have imagined an ensemble SONS MOUVEMENTS COULEURS (sounds movements colours), which proposes a contemporary reading and listening of this music that never ages.
Gérard Fromanger - May 2007
This invitation is a challenge in that it provokes the meeting of artists hailing from very different realities and universes: Gérard Fromanger, Didier Deschamps and the dancers from the Ballet de Lorraine, myself and the dancers from my company in Brazil.
We propose to explore a common theme: Stockhausen’s music, Hymnen, an emblematic musical work of the 1960s, which has lost none of its power. This music creates a world of sound, a movement in space. And even its author calls it “stage music”, compares it to a “figurative musical painting”. Stockhausen talks of transmutation, integration, fusion, composition of a perception space. These words could be the key to this show: the creation of a territory that belongs to all, made up of a multiplicity of bodies, gazes and colours.
In 1970, Jean-Albert Cartier, then the director of the Ballet Théâtre Contemporain in Amiens, brought together around Michel Descombey a collective of 5 choreographers to create a show around Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Hymnen, with the collaboration of Gérard Fromanger for the scenography, settings and costumes.
This work resonated powerfully with the tensions and utopias of the time and, particularly, with the events of May 68, by the very content of the musical score, the settings and the costumes, and by the unique organisation of a collective choreographic approach.
Thirty-five years later, the world has changed, but the issues of national, ethnic and religious identities are still present and sharply felt, strengthened by the proliferation of new migrations, inequalities and miseries. By inviting Gérard Fromanger and Lia Rodrigues to renew this adventure with me, the aim is not to illustrate music or to adhere to current political events. However, the noises, images, injunctions and challenges of the world form the framework of our approach.