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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Quand la forêt embrumée cache trop l’arbre

by Muriel Steinmetz

Gisèle Vienne’s Latest Show in Avignon {This is how you will disappear}:

Translated Wednesday 21 July 2010, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

The Franco-Austrian artist has chosen to immerse the audience in fog. Indeed an alternative title for her impressive show might well be: "You Can’t See the Trees for the Mist in the Forest".

The puppet-mistress Gisèle Vienne recently presented This is how you will disappear in one of Avignon’s gymnasiums. This work was conceived in close collaboration with the US poet, author, and art critic Dennis Cooper. The set is simply magnificent.

By l’Humanité’s special correspondent.

The set is simply magnificent: a forest represented with great naturalistic exactitude, to the slightest detail (trees, shrubbery, birds chirping, even a real buzzard). A man wearing a tracksuit is helping a young gymnast, in a white skirt and tennis shoes, to execute all sorts of acrobatic figures. The music (by Stephen O’Malley and Peter Rehberg) contributes to the scene’s atmosphere of anguish and mystery. The union between two beings is coming apart, as is the beautiful harmony of a morning in the forest.

For here lies Gisèle Vienne’s forte: staging real-time changes in the atmosphere and the characters’ feelings. An ex rock-star has fallen, lying at the foot of a tree after killing his girl-friend – possibly the gymnast. Add to this the fog (a sculpture of mist by the Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya), which gradually becomes the play’s only subject, its main character. Down it flows on the trees, like lava, before reaching the first rows of the audience — and even beyond.

This make-believe natural scene fogs our gaze. The play gets mired in some kind of nihilism, without its being clear what Gisèle Vienne is really driving at. This much is clear: beset on all sides, nature seems to find refuge on the stage.

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