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Conceptual diary
Jean Christophe Lanquetin – Johannesburg 2012

All along the residency, i’ll try to stage in this journal some questions about how, from my point of view, Play/Urban could be(come) a creative research project, around a serie of theoretical questions and concepts, and how as artists, researchers, students, we could build processes engaging with urban contexts and the questions which are arising.

31/08/2012. We are in the inner city, at the Drill Hall, visiting Keleketla Library team. We start engaging with the inner city of Joburg. The question of time comes. Should we rush ? It is evident we shouldn’t. From today and until next thursday (and from time to time after) we will meet with the artists who will anchor our creative research process. The simple fact we see how they work, how they engage with the context, on what they focus, immediately shifts our perceptions (as foreigners, but also for the Wits students) of the city in which we are.
It’s also about being displaced, even submerged. At the Drill Hall, we are.
We cannot work without being displaced and take time.

01/09/02012. Being displaced, loosing our daily habit. How new markers appear. It also goes into the way our bodies changes according to a context. Pay attention to this. How this dimension interact with the way we see the city, with the artistic dimension, with the projects.

02/09/2012 . Performance by Selo Pesa and his dancers. Articulation between theater/dance and context, including audience. How a performance can be at the same time completely included in a context and completely a performance. How the fact of playing with the audience, its position, how shifting this position, create the conditions of a moment which is extra quotidien, and at the same time inside the daily life, with an unclear, vague limit between.
No physical limit, no frame, no stage, just objects, urban space and people.


Scenography would not so much focus on designing a physical space, but on the articulation of time and fiction with the context, and the position of the audience. On ways to shift real time into fictional time, and return back into daily life. Selo’s performance was brilliant about this as first we were, as invited audience, under a white tent, separated from people around, and after a time, he came to remove our seats, so we had to join people around and our perception changed. There was no end of the performance : one of the dancers was continuing to perform as others were cleaning the space, and putting away the table, tents, chairs, objets.
Nobody applauded.
images : Jc Lanquetin – Brian Mtembu in Lime light on rites & the mourning tent for the audience.


03/09/12. It could be one sentence : why, when artists intervene in « poor » areas, the question of what the audience experienced comes more often, and more clearly ?

04/09/12. Theatricality vs Theater. Theater doesn’t impose it’s rules. The stage don’t frame the relation. Selo Pesa’s practices comes from the city, from a high attention to contexts, people and how to engage with them, play and respect. It goes into a real theatricality, but the hierarchy is reversed, theater and stage rules don’t impose their frame. A more organic dimension, interestingly complex appears, as audience we experience it. Our bodies are constantly shifting from fiction to reality.
And : we spend half a day walking and sitting in parks. Observating. Doing very simply what people do in parks. Sitting on bricks, laying down on the grass. A project could be just to tell about what we experienced.

05/09/12. As I’m walking around King Kong building, as I see how urban space is occupied, as I see the way the parc I come from is practiced as a common space ( beautiful minimal empty space in the middle of industrial buildings, just a few trees, a path, and a green ground like little hills), It is really obvious that the question of public space is also at work here. This notion, complex because of its genealogy, and more of all because of the way some european thinkers are considering it as a kind of european specificity, is in fact really a platform to be interrogated and re conceptualized in non european contexts. The multiples perspectives suggested by Hannah Arendt : THE REALITY OF PUBLIC REALM IS FOUND ON THE SIMULTANEOUS PRESENCE OF PERSPECTIVES…- are at work here and should be explored.
nb : even though the notion of perspective needs to be interrogated in non european contexts ; note also the fact she speaks about public realm and not about public space.

IMG_9135w copie

In his reflexion on the future of cities, Olivier Mongin (The urban condition) associates theatricality to an aspect of the singularity of european cities in their dimension of public space. It is clear there is a strong theatrical dimension in link with the history and context of european cities : greek time, middle age, renaissance, XIXe century, etc. But if you shift a bit this dimension of theatricality to the observation of how people (people as infrastructure) manage in their interactions with urban space, you will find almost everywhere and constantly a lot of these micro theatricalities, which are organically part of daily life, and are shaping the city space. Theatrical dimension is just a part of the materiality of cities, the way people interact one each others, stage themselves, etc. This could be the subject of a photographic work.

09/09/12. Agglutinative. Zen Marie puts on the wall a reference to Deleuze : « Deleuze relates the agglutinative to a « loose open ended logical structure in progress ». Its components are linked together by no more than a lick of glue – threaded together with no more than the humble conductive form and + and + and + … »

11/09/12. A ruff mapping after a walk with Bettina Malcomess, in the CBD (center business district) :

mappingBettinaW copie

How is it possible to work with these questions ?

13/09/12. One complexity of this project : a residency with students, not necessarily used to « deliver », to focus on a project and manage to stage it, deal with time, etc…, for an opening. And, the complexity to articulate simultaneously a research process and a creation process, as artists and students are used to jump into a creation process. A lot of preconceptions to deconstruct about this.



So many pictures like this. Between context and concept. Opening a imaginary space for the viewer. Texts in urban space. City as a book to read.

During the residency, after two weeks, a contradiction appears, in the way we choose to work. Do we have to focus on classical creation processes (in group or individually), with all its dimensions (more individual, need of time, immersion in it…), or to keep a more common and playfull process ? At some point what happens ? The urgency of creation, the feeling of it, becomes very strong, and moves many of us away a more collective approach of the work. But for me, this more collective approach, structured by play rules, is as effective as a more classical creation process. I speak about such a residency, which is basically conceived as a collective process, this collective and experimental ways of working are the « creative research » dimension of the project. This dimension of « creative research » lies in dispositifs de collectifs, play rules.

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