Les Harmoniques du Néon: Anne-Julie Rollet and Anne-Laure Pigache, in collaboration with Carole Rieussec
Anne-Julie Rollet and the electroacoustic music composer Carole Rieussec, member of the duo Kristoff K.ROLL, have created the performance Place, Plaça. A work based on sound stories about the notion of the public square, which is now touring beyond France. This piece is produced by Harmoniques du Néon, whose associate artists are Anne-Julie Rollet and Anne-Laure Pigache. After two residencies in Barcelona in June and November 2021, they will present Place, Plaça in Grenoble in February 2022, and will return to Barcelona in March.
Updated on 21/01/2022
Anne-Julie Rollet, you are a composer and improviser of electroacoustic music. Anne-Laure Pigache, you are a vocalist and performer. How do you approach your artistic practice?
Anne-Julie Rollet: I am drawn to live performance. I like to play with recorded or live sounds, with loudspeakers that I use as musical instruments. I perform what are called "treatments", the live sound processing of instrumentalists or vocalists.
Anne-Laure Pigache: I belong to the field of sound poetry. I don't work from texts, but from speech, which can be everyday, banal or conversational. I try to feel what is being played out sonically and musically. How by disturbing language, we disturb thought. I'm self-taught, I've been involved in theatre, improvised music, dance, etc. It was musique concrète and listening to experimental music that brought me to sound and music. I had fun exploring the voice and all the vocal possibilities with this approach.
How did the Place, Plaça project come about?
A-JR: It was a project that I first started with the electroacoustic music composer Carole Rieussec. At the time, on the Place de la République, there was the Nuit Debout movement (a series of demonstrations in 2016 in public squares against proposed changes to working laws, ed.). We were struck by the way in which speech organised itself in this public square, and the extent to which it was fragmented and free. In a world where cities are gentrifying at a very rapid pace, it was like a reappropriation of public space through speech. The square is no longer just functional, it becomes a living space again.
In the past, you have created installations, concerts and performances. What will Place, Plaça look like?
A-LP: First of all, there is an initial stage during which we collect sounds, immersing ourselves in the chosen outdoor square. There then follows a process of composition and writing from all the collected materials. The performance takes place indoors, with the audience sitting in an oval. We are located in several places in this oval, and in the centre there is an empty space. The people sitting there are listening to the words of absent people, while looking at others. Individuals who could themselves be passers-by in this square. There is then a superimposition of presences which is underlined by the light and the scenography of Christophe Cardoen. It is a suggestive light that has been created to make us listen. Around this oval, four loudspeakers allow for sound immersion, and at the edge, there are a dozen radios that offer more precise points.
The square is a place where people shout, whisper, meet... It is an eminently political place, both social and intimate. What does this notion of "public square" evoke for you? And what link do you see between "the spoken word" and the square?
A-JR: The spoken word transmits sound images of the square. They are captured in different ways: people are asked to describe photos, they are asked about their use of the square, and they can also be recorded in a completely spontaneous way. When someone describes their square, an image is formed. And the square is also a place of social existence. The more public spaces disappear, the more inequalities are created. Without them, only those who have a social standing can exist.
A-LP: There are different types of occupations, for some people the square is a true extension of their living space. You meet your friends for a drink, you play ball... If you spend a week observing these squares, layers of presence become superimposed. The entanglement of all of these ways of speaking also tells of the multiplicity of presences in a square.
Why did you choose to present a different show in each city, and to involve local artists with different backgrounds (cinema, dance, art)?
A-JR: We wanted to explore other places, and to confront ourselves with other ways of experiencing public space. We are interested in exploring places that are less familiar to us, that are not part of our culture, in order to perceive them more effectively. The fact of being elsewhere, of rubbing shoulders with another language, is to approach another musicality. Carole and I are particularly sensitive to the musicality of speech. Speech makes sense, but it also makes sound, and when we are with people whose speech we do not understand in terms of meaning, we listen much more closely to their musicality.
In February 2022, Place, Plaça will travel to Barcelona, with the support of the City of Grenoble and the Institut français. You are working alongside Eduardo Filippi, architect, performer and filmmaker, and Núria Martínez-Vernis, poet and translator. How has your work been informed by their sensibilities?
A-JR: We found it interesting to be in contact with people who know the space and its practical application, who have a translation of this space. This allows us to offer a more in-depth encounter. The encounter with the space would have been less rich without them. As for the multidisciplinary aspect, we find that there are links between the body, image and sound that are interesting to create. With Carole, we wrote a score with precise intentions. Then, everyone interprets it through their own practice. There is also an element of improvisation. Eduardo Filippi uses films and projectors, Núria, her voice and loudspeakers. Each works with their own practice to support the other.
A-LP: Sometimes in live performance, sound is at the service of what is being watched. Here, it's the opposite. The main character is sound. The other artistic forms support the sound and the imagination that unfolds. Different languages come together. In the performance, Núria speaks Castilian and Catalan, and I speak French. We don't necessarily say the same thing. We wanted to multiply the suggestions to the listeners so that they themselves would search for their own memories of places, their own evocation of space. The idea is to come up with a precise and concrete anchor for us, to evoke the anchors that we are lacking, the intimate connection with every spectator.
The project Place, Plaça benefits from the support of the partnership between the Institut français and the Ville de Grenoble.
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