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Moteur Idéal for Nuit Blanche 2021

by Nils Alix-Tabeling & Justin Fitzpatrick

from Oct. 2nd to Dec 11th, 2021
at Maison populaire, Montreuil (FR)


As part of Nuit Blanche 2021, and at the invitation of Lou Masduraud and Thomas Conchou, Nils Alix-Tabeling and Justin Fitzpatrick (1991 and 1985, live and work in Montargis) deliver their first collaborative work. Inspired by philosopher Henri Bergson and his theories on the perception of time and its duration, Moteur Idéal is presented as a scenographic installation activated by a performance in two acts. Borrowing from the forms of parade floats and travelling theatre sets, the work is structured around two rearing horses and a central carriage, representing respectively the abstract ideas of perception and memory.

The rearing horses embody the nervous system, the immediate reaction to stimuli transmitted to us by the senses, and the willingness to accept the newness of each moment. They symbolise the experience of living in the present, in a world perceived in the moment, in tension. Without memory, they are purely experiential subjects, and each situation appears to them as new and terrifying: they act without knowing. Three figures inspired by Urs Amann's famous illustration for Klaus Schulz's album Timewind (1975) dance and lounge on the central carriage. These parques, who have become pussycats, embody reflexive time, the time we imagine, anticipate and remember. They revolve around a high column surmounted by a spinning wheel representing the backbone of the body, and evocative of its interiority by its shape. Closed in on themselves, closed in on their introspection, the three cats are pure memory, disconnected from the physicality of the world: they know, but cannot act.

Red ropes arranged in macramé recall the nerves and tendons through which we feel and act. They link sense and memory, perceived and figurative time, allowing this chaotic assemblage to come together to highlight how the body informs subjective experience and consciousness, and vice versa. Here body and mind are not considered in opposition but in a close dialectic linking reflex and reflection.

Performed by Louis Sé, and accompanied by Alizée Quitmann for costumes-making, a two-act performance will present in the form of an Operetta two mythical characters linked to time: a sundial, in love with the sun, and death, in the guise of an old hapie haranguing humanity.


photo credits: courtesy of the Tetley Art Gallery and  Margot Montigny
graphic design: Roxanne Maillet

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