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The 2005 archive

Jan Fabre


For intérieur © Frédéric Nauczyciel / see-you-tomorrow


A world utterly at the mercy of the power of theatrical imagination is what Jan Fabre has been advocating since C'est du Théâtre Comme Il Etait à Espérer et à Prévoir (1982) and Le Pouvoir des Folies Théâtrales (1984). Those were the first of his pieces to draw attention with their flouting of stage convention. It's a kind of Theatre of Rebellion (As Long as the World Needs a Warrior's Soul, 2000), influenced by his training in plastic arts and his practical experience of performance art, simultaneously bringing to the stage a time related to materials of the painter, as well as that related to human beings or animals (Parrots and Guinea Pigs, 2002). However, everything is created out of the body and its language. The physical body in Sweet Temptations (1991), spiritual in Universal Copyrights 1&9 (1995) and erotic in Glowing Icons (1997). This body, that has memory and fundamental instincts similar to those of animals, is endowed with the almost magical power of metamorphosis. That is why he likes to describe his actors as "warriors of beauty", drawn into the enormity of images and dreams. Nonetheless, over and above excess, and often with humour or irony, Jan Fabre manifests a profound affection towards humankind and its weaknesses. In all these years entirely devoted to his art, a protean body of work which includes sculptures and installations, text and stage-production – more than thirty pieces to date - Jan Fabre, from the workshop to the tangible work, from the studio to the stage, has pursued the feverish quest of his visions. In his work, people are defined by their impulses, from the place where their beauty lies, in their bodies, their pleasure, from ecstasy to agony, from subservience to revolt. From his monologues (Elle Etait et Elle Est, Même, Etant Donnés) or personal solos custom-designed for his performers (Quando l'Uomo Principale è Una Donna, L'Ange de la Mort) to his flamboyant group pieces, the approach of this "man who measures clouds", preserves a flavour of childhood and games. Relying on his intuition, Jan Fabre works relentlessly on the plasticity of bodies, seeking to pour them into a poetic mould and create new horizons. Jan Fabre has already presented a number of pieces at the Avignon Festival, Das Glas im Kopf wird vom Glas in 1988, My Movements are Alone Like Street-Dogs in 2000, Je Suis Sang in the Courtyard of Honour in the Pope's Palace as well as an installation, Umbraculum in 2001 and L'Ange de la Mort in 2004.

The Maison Jean Vilar and the Avignon Festival have joined forces this year to reveal Jean Fabre's visual arts work to the people of Avignon and festival-goers. The exhibition has been organised by Jérôme Sans, co-director of the Palais de Tokyo exhibition hall in Paris. The Maison Jean Vilar is an old mansion which is a place for history, reflection and research, housing Jean Vilar's archives and those of the Avignon Festival. For Intérieur (Inside of us) is on show for two months. It is a way of reviving a dialogue begun by Vilar, the founder of the Festival, between stage art and visual art. The exhibition is designed as if it were a house visit, in Jan Fabre's imaginary home where he "stages" fifty of his works, sculptures, drawings and films from 1978 until his most recent creations, but not in chronological order. Jan Fabre uses a language that is dense and multiple, from a mass of blue ballpoint strokes to a legion of beetles. His target is the body and he sheds its surface in order to dig into the deepest parts of the human being. A painstaking, war-like organisation is hidden behind the most primordial of human behaviours as in desire, violence, defence or conquest etc. So many instinctive movements whose parallel Jan Fabre finds in the insect world, and most noticeably in beetles, a symbol of renewal and renaissance in ancient Egypt. An insect with a carapace, it becomes a metaphore for a soldier wearing a breast-plate, a mediaeval knight, a war enemy. Jan Fabre's work as a plastician is displayed in a universe that is half-way between reality and a fanasty tale where human beings are knights again and by putting on their armour they adjust their perceptions.


Curator : Jérôme Sans
Collaboration : Barbara de Coninck


Coproduction : Festival d'Avignon, Maison Jean Vilar
En collaboration avec : Angelos (Anvers)
Catalogue d'exposition édité : par Actes Sud (juillet 2005)

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