Artist Mariano Pensotti has recently presented his performance Sometimes I Think I Can See You in the Parisian suburbs. Pensotti’s performance is presented in France after having toured several countries.
In collaboration with local authors, Pensotti has the writers describe the passengers at train or subway stations and imagine their thoughts or invent possible lives for them as they try to identify each other in the stories displayed in giant screens.
In France, Cathy Blisson, Arnaud Cathrine, Vincent Delerm, Loo Hui Phang et Jeanne Truong
executed the performance at the train station Val-d’Europe, on December 27-8, 2012 for Dépayz’arts festival.
I’ve asked author Cathy Blisson a few questions about her experience as a performer.
How did it feel to leave the intimacy and safety of your studio to write surrounded by viewers dissecting your writing in real time?
It felt very strange at first, I was quite nervous about it ! The idea was to keep a constant flow of words on the screen, and interact with reality — improvisation, in a word. No time to process the information and dwell on possible choice of words ; needless to say, editing isn’t an option. But such live writing was also an exciting challenge, with great reward when people realized they became the characters of short stories, and laughed it off. Mariano Pensotti calls it “subtitling reality”, seeing the writers as “litterary surveillance cameras”. He often works on how fiction affects reality and vice-versa. We will never have a definite answer on the impact our words might have had on the passengers; this real-time writing raised a few questions on the first day, on possibly being, at times, too close to what could be unsettling realities to some people. But above all, it was a very playful experience, especially as we went with the flow, and took more and more liberties toward fiction. Laughter was the most common answer. So, it really didn’t feel like our fleeting writing was being dissected. It kept rolling-up, disappearing after 5 or 6 sentences, and that was the beauty of it.
Have you done other interdisciplinary collaborations? Could you please tell us one or two valuable points about them?
Yes I have, and I intend to follow them through. Among other experiences, I am taking part in a research lab called Laboratoires de Traverse (http://tramedie.blogspot.fr)
, started by theater director Marine Mane. The idea here is to gather artists from different disciplines including theater, dance, circus, music, and visual arts, as well as academics. For one week, they will pick their brains and experiment with their bodies/medias on a specific theme that might nurture everyone’s research, knowing that there is no obligation to produce. I participate in these labs as an observer, giving participants an outward perpective, as well as sharing thoughts on what is at stakes and how the whole process evolves. Then, I blog about it. The first two labs have proven to be incredibly rich, as every artist brought in some input from a different perspective. I truly believe that this kind of collaborative platforms allowing us to change the perspective on the way we look at things, will help finding leads to renew our practices as far as production and content are concerned. The tricky part is to dodge the market agenda in order to create time and space for them.
Is there something you would like to add about your experience with Sometimes I Think I Can See You?
Well, it was also a way to shed a different set of lights on the theater of our daily environnement/routine. I think it gave a chance to the passengers (and us writers) to look at it from another viewpoint. It will also be interesting to see how it might affect future writings for the authors who played the game !
Photos by Dorothée Duplan
More information about Mariano Pensotti’s work www.marianopensotti.com