TQW Magazin
Anna Kromer on Grand Mal by Anne Lise Le Gac & Élie Ortis

The nutritional value of trashure


The nutritional value of trashure

Things literally want to come to light, to be reform(ulat)ed. Grand Mal begins with accumulation: a pulsating practice of digital archiving is inevitably followed by a seemingly endless collection of trash; upgrading these treasures into “trashure” runs counter to thoughtless throwing-away and lends a nourishing quality to its composite parts: amateur dance videos, seemingly casual and animated GIFs on social media sites become the foodstuff of Anne Lise Le Gac’s and Élie Ortis’ artistic work. An infinite conversation between the two artists has ensued from the digital archive of found footage, which must inevitably take place online – separated by a (virtual) wall, as the two artists live far apart from each other in Paris and Marseille respectively. Only the temporary physical presence in one place enables them to rearticulate their conversation in a moment-like framing as a performance with living-room aesthetics in the Plateau version. On stage, this clip-like meeting corresponds with the YouTube frame of a random screen within which the private reveals itself.

It’s an immersion into the intimate sphere of past correspondences with pieces from the very same trashure/toolbox which updates itself, fragmented and in varied ways depending on the context, for the gaze of the many. Using a laptop, a PowerPoint wall projection and a mobile phone, Anne Lise Le Gac highlights the mediatised aspects of conciliation between text and body, narrative and representation, historical chat excerpts and immediate repetition of movement; while Élie Ortis – online the entire time – provides the recurrent theme of supposed authentication with a do-it-yourself character simply on account of the quietude of his constant physical presence. Thus, his seemingly random and insignificant presence in the collecting of the self proves to be an energy source of ever-growing accumulation for the grand mal dance style developed by the two performers. He is the “web collector”: Anne Lise Le Gac characterises Élie Ortis’ role in their story about companionship and loneliness as “feeder” in both a technical and a nutritional sense; an interplay of active or passive interaction that may not necessarily take place in reality.

In the way that the pictorial and textual symbolisations of their mediatised self-narratives inscribe themselves physically, the “danses glocales”, as the performers call the dancing ventures of amateurism in their finds, manifest themselves by way of a collage-like doubling in their space of performative re-articulation. An imitation of unknown persons’ regurgitated movements. Superimpositions of movement textures in the act of the present continually create exposures, taken from the digital memory and reassembled, oscillating between approach and withdrawal, catering to the audience’s voyeuristic gaze.

The eclectic staging, which recurs to French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, takes its turning point when, in the face of the autobiographical post-factual semi-nudity, the two performers’ eyes meet one single time. The touching moment of direct confrontation between one’s self and the other unfolds an excess of pop-cultural monotony by being thrown back on movements of infinite reformulation. It’s falling into a trance of mechanical repetition; to the beat of the everyday convenience of media-induced isolation. In an effort to arrest the audience’s attention just for a little while, movements made by bent bodies, rocking back and forth, and striking poses create an atmosphere that alternates between night club and fight club. Soft shuffle bouncing to the rhythm of DJ Gigi D’Agostino’s song „Ininterrottamente“ makes the close-to-the-script attempt of producing seamless contingency in presenting oneself vibrate in a penetrating bass, without ever getting into a fluster.

The basis for the thundering conclusion is an analogue formation of plaster-cast wooden poles weighing several kilograms. Like a playing field, as a scene-in-scene, it marks the framework for the sportive smashing of a professional league and an intensification of physicality far removed from mediatised separation. Each swing, with which one of the poles crashes hammer-like on the stage floor, makes its hardened sheathing split, thereby revealing nutritious energy bars produced by the artists themselves, hidden inside the poles. Recipes included. The harshness of the physicality that passes its vibration on to the audience’s bodies thus points to a dusty contrast of immediacy with the fragmented volatility of the virtual self. A forceful act of physical closeness as an invitation to interaction. In the energy-expending experiment between fitness workout and self-optimisation through persistent tilling of the performative (breeding) ground, Anne Lise Le Gac and Élie Ortis explore the diversity of their being together. Precisely the framing provided by collecting the material live as a “food dance on the shingle”, as Le Gac puts it, identifies not only YouTube as a platform of serfs: the space between the bar and the stage be hereby opened because the walls have been torn down: literal food is available for free. The conversation remains infinite.


Anna Kromer is a media theorist and typographer. She studied theatre, film and media studies at the University of Vienna, focusing on media philosophy and social media aesthetics. In her texts, she explores the relation of time/space/ body as well as the structures of authenticity/performativity in virtual reality.



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