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SHO-BO-GEN-ZO

SHO-BO-GEN-ZO

SHO-BO-GEN-ZO

"The sign is a rift that opens only upon the figure of another sign."

                                                     Roland Barthes, L’Empire des signes [The Empire of Signs]

      One is reminded of Josef Nadj’s miniatures – a set of some sixty India ink drawings, concentrated, silent and meditative, executed at the time of the creation of Les Philosophes in 2001. His graphic production has singularly shifted since, notably during the year 2008, with the graphite pencil series Corbeaux, meaning Crows, and the performance also entitled Corbeaux. Nevertheless, in Sho-bo-gen-zo, created that same summer in Kanizsa, one also encounters something of these miniatures.
      This impression arises perhaps from the continuation of or the return to certain themes – the work’s dimensions, its reduced and contained format from the perspective of space as well as time. Its composition in successive tableaux, often frontal, where the affirmation of the frame of the stage provokes the feeling of closure and focuses the eye. The extreme density of signs that run through it – their enigmatic character and their profusion that compel attention. Or its intimist atmosphere, meditative as well.
In the same order of ideas, one would be tempted to qualify Sho-bo-gen-zo as a chamber piece for the stage – in the same way chamber piece is used in music for works that call upon a small number of solo instrumentalists. With Cécile Loyer and Josef Nadj, Joëlle Léandre and Akosh Szelevényi – two choreographer/performers and two musician/improvisers, each a proven soloist – it is in fact a quartet, based on the solid complicity developed over the years by way of numerous encounters.
Another impression. Which perhaps comes from the character of certain movements, from the ‘ideogrammatic’ positions, from the reduced size of the performance area and the side-by-side placement of the musicians. Precisely from this effect of ‘concentration’, of attachment to detail, suggesting depth to the code, and hidden meaning. And to the large framing border of clear-coloured wood on the central panel at the rear of the stage, evoking the bridge or path where the Kabuki or Noh actor appears. And to the form of the relationship between dancers and musicians, where one can see the dissociation between movement and voice, between action and narrative, inherent to Bunraku.
So a persistent impression, that even beyond the title (to which we’ll return), and even beyond the system of reference the work establishes from the start, Sho-bo-gen-zo would still be Nadj’s most Japanese piece. Not that it offers the slightest reflection of Japanese reality – it is of course a dream Japan, an imagined Japan. Faraway. An invented elsewhere. But bristling with hints, with signs.
"In the first tableau, we exaggerate the references to Japan, we risk things the Japanese themselves wouldn’t dare… later, on the contrary, it’s a question of avoiding the snare of the Japanesque", explains Nadj.
And in fact, with two masked and costumed characters, an armoured Samurai, and an onnagata curiously interpreted by a woman, Sho-bo-gen-zo opens to the description of a bygone Japan, difficult to place in time, the facts of which are off-set and distorted. An elsewhere, a faraway land whose extreme strangeness is the means to return to our present, here and now.
Finally, there is the title of this new work, a Japanese expression meaning ‘The True Law, Treasure of the Eye’ – or for certain exegetes, ‘The True Law is the Treasure of the Eye’.

"The bird sees the path of the bird…
Time must exist within me.
Since my true self is already there, time cannot leave it…"

                                                                             Master Dogen

      Shobogenzo is Master Dogen’s major work, which introduced the Soto school of Zen Buddhism to Japan in the thirteenth century. The first scholarly work written in Japanese, it is a relatively heterogeneous compilation, bringing together poetic and philosophical writings with rules for monastic life. The idea of Genjo Koan or the ‘realization of koan as presence’, which gives its title to the first chapter, returns recurrently throughout the collection.
      In general, a koan takes the form of a short dialogue between master and disciple, an enlightening story, apparently paradoxical, which by resisting analysis allows one to grasp the world as it is, and not as our rational thinking conceives it. Together with zazen, ‘seated meditation’, it favours satori, ‘spiritual awakening’, and constitutes one of the principle practises of Zen.
Interested by Dogen’s life, struck by the depth and contemporary relevance of his teaching, Nadj has particularly turned his attention to this practise, as well as to the koan texts and commentaries that pepper Dogen’s oeuvre. As Nadj says, ‘with Sho-bo-gen-zo, we’ve tried to create visual koans.’ It is doubtlessly in this light that one must examine each of the tableaux that comprises the piece. Six visual and sound koans, linked by a single problematic, six different approaches to one same question – a central question for Nadj, who has tackled it before, notably in Les Commentaires d’Habacuc (1996) – the question of Time, of which Dogen’s conception is of an extreme subtlety and a profound originality.

                                                                               Myriam Bloedé  

Nadj, Josef

Josef Nadj was born in 1957 in Kanjiza, a province of Vojvodina in the former Yugoslavia, in what is today Serbia. Beginning in childhood, he drew, practiced wrestling, accordeon, soccer and chess, intending a career in painting. Between the ages of 15 and 18, he studied at the fine arts high school of Novi Sad (the capital of Vojvodina), followed by 15 months of military service in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Afterwards, he left to study art history and music at the Academy of Fine Arts and at the University of Budapest, where he also began studying physical expression and acting.


In 1980, he left for Paris to continue his training with Marcel Marceau, Etienne Ducroux. Simultaneously he discovered modern dance, at the time in a period of swift expansion in France. He followed the teachings of Larri Leong (who combined dance, kimomichi and aidido) and Yves Cassati, also taking classes in tai-chi, butoh and contact improvisation (with Mark Tompkins), began himself to teach the movement arts in 1983 (in France and Hungary), and participated as a performer in works by Sidonie Rochon (Papier froissé, 1984), Mark Tompkins (Trahison Men, 1985), Catherine Diverrès (l’Arbitre des élégances, 1988) and François Verret (Illusion comique and La, commissioned by the GRCOP, 1986).


In 1986 he founded his company, Théâtre JEL – “jel” meaning “sign” in Hungarian – and created his first work, Canard Pékinois, presented in 1987 at the Théâtre de la Bastille and remounted the following year at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris.

Up to now, he is the author of about thirty performances.


In 1982, Josef Nadj completely abandoned drawing and painting to dedicate himself fully to dance, and would not begin showing his work again until fifteen years later. But in 1989 he began practicing photography, pursuing it without interruption to the present. Since 1996, his visual arts and graphic works, most often conceived in cycles or series – sculpture-installations, drawings, photos – have been regularly exhibited in galleries and theatres.


In 2006, Josef Nadj was Associated Artist for the 60th Festival of Avignon, presenting Asobu as the festival's opening performance in the Court of Honour of the Palais des Papes, as well as Paso doble, a performance created in collaboration with the painter Miquel Barcelo at the Celestins Church. In July 2010, he returned to present Les Corbeaux, a duet with Akosh zelevényi.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Anton Chekhov, Valery Shadrin, director of the Chekhov International Theatre Festival and Artistic Director of the Year 2010 France-Russia, invited Josef Nadj for the creation of a show dedicated to the playwright, which was performed in Moscow and St. Petersburg.


Josef Nadj was present at the Prague Quadrennial of 16 to 26 June 2011. TheQuadrennial held in Prague since 1967, is the most famous event in the world for performing arts. More than sixty countries attended this year. Josef Nadj was selected to participate in the project "Intersection" based on intimacy and performance. An ephemeral village was created, which consisted of boxes (“white cubes / black boxes") that stood for thirty world-renowned artists, each one represented by a different box. Since 1995, Josef Nadj has been the director of the Centre Chorégraphique National d’Orléans.


Source : Josef Nadj


En savoir plus : http://josefnadj.com/

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