A theatre of figures
If there is a recurrent theme in our work, it's most likely that of the double: when it is not the living dead and his video-graphic soul that haunts the installation Katafalk, it's the unexpected partner that invades your space to the point where there is a confusion as to who is who (Hélium). Or again in Light! with it's accompanying shadow, much like the personification of an interiority which is visible in spite of itself... We have a kind of schizophrenia inside us, and the fact that we both work with it can't but reinforce the tendency!
The duo that we form has a particular strength which helps it to last, namely that each one has their turn at taking the initiative and responsibility for the outcome of a project. The other one of us accompanies the work, in a way that is proximate, in order to help the other formulate their desire and realize what they had in mind without knowing it, to push certain propositions that might have been passed over.
It's also that each project begins with the flaws of or in what was missing in the precedent pieces. Certain themes may have been touched upon without finally finding a place in the logic of the resulting work, but then become pertinent in the new work... and are thus a continuation. It's a way of maintaining the desire, the keeping alive of what was "inaccessible"...
As a choreographer I serve more as an interface, between the director and the performers, dissecting the movement with them, whereas Patrick provides, in my projects, a certain distance, able to keep a more global vision of the work. But often the roles get reversed, even between collaborators, set designers, constructors, musicians, costume designers and depending on the project with the performers, who give through their improvisations the gestural material that will later be developed. At the same time it is never a question of a collective creation: it is essential that there is always one person who keeps hold of the through-line, in total subjectivity.
As far as the marionettes - which play a predominant role in Twin Houses - they were conceived to incarnate an ideal of duality. They are conceived as the hidden face, the return of the pendulum, at times the opposite and necessary movement of that which we search to realize with living bodies.
We often ask of the actors or dancers to put themselves into a death-like state, or one of absence - at any rate to be in a state of remembrance rather than that of an over-active present tense. The desired state is one of affective detachment, of transparence and not one of expressiveness.
With the marionettes of Twin Houses it was necessary to infuse a more concrete sense, of thought, to "charge" them, so that they could stand on equal footing with the live performers, that their presence would be of the same nature. In a way they are encrusted on their bodies, one lending a shoulder, the other a leg, creating the intention for two, putting the character into situations in which he would have never found himself alone. It is the animated figure that animates....
In the "Theater of Marionettes" of Heinrich von Kleist, where the dancer is advised to move like a puppet, in movements that are at times empty and centered, I have sometimes heard very conflicting interpretations. Certain don't get the suggestive side of the indications, thinking that it's necessary to apply the directives to the marionettes themselves. Kleist never said anything about manipulation, he just pointed out how the puppet could be an instrument of great purity, its scenic force, and beyond the scenic, a whole life philosophy ...
It seems to me that an inanimate figure needs, contrary to a living performer, to be enormously charged: even if in manipulating it, one can follow the natural logic of its mechanics and the material of which it is made, it's necessary to imbue it with a certain potential of thought, that which moves it, makes it come to a stop, gives life to its gaze, makes it possible for the body to question itself; all of which is in opposition to the work of an actor or dancer, where the performance can become too "psychological" or redundant.
The figure is affecting in its fabulous potential to evoke or suggest. It is for this reason we continue to experiment with such an object today, in a performance where it will occupy the front of the stage: a somewhat animist choreography, with a series of "cannibalistic" stories, each character devouring the precedent, each in turn coming to life.
To suggest is for us a key-word. Not to describe, not to circumscribe a totality. To leave something partially in the shadow. Open up the flaws, show what is incomplete. And by that way incite the audience to reconstitute the missing pieces, to glide along through their own sensitive experience.
Illusion can allow us to come into contact with our own reality. Children's games stir up this very same phantasm, touch upon this same desire: to live big, for an intensity of existence, beyond the constraints of the day-to-day, to dig into what is alive about living, touch the hidden depths which the imagination can reveal.
Nicole Mossoux • 2006