strive to point out a place.
A sacred place.
This place is a name.
No word speaks the name.
AlI mouths are opened to the name.
AlI ways lead to the name
and no way reaches the name.
The place of the name is
there and here.
We are outside the skin of the name.
We can see the name
only through its skin.
lts skin is our skin.
The name of the skin is inside.
Name and skin.
to be and to give.
by Henri Chopin
Étant Donnés is a duet by Eric and Marc Hurtado created in Grenoble in 1980. From this French town, it rapidly became international, especially in Europe.
Born in 1959 and 1962 respectively, in Rabat, Morocco, the two brothers have chosen both orality and writing, with a clear, semantic word, yet without the burden of grammar.
Through them, it is the volume of each word that becomes an object-sculpture, together with the power of their bodies expressing their voices.
Each event is the scream - indeed even the glissando -
of the strength of the word that sometimes abruptly becomes a rock, a solid surface, not in the least fluvial, as is the narrative of a tale, novel or poetic epic.
With both of them, no more trace of ancient prosodies, no more trace the incomprehensible Sainte-Beuve who could claim "I have to collect a volume of prose".
The word, the voice, the volume take shape with each other, unveiling a theatre that theatre usually ignores, which has given it such things as a Samuel Beckett's Fin de Partie.
Moreover listening to 'Aurore', our two actors' CD, undoubtedly owing to the influence of the Mediterranean cradle, single umbilical cord of two great religions, the influence of both Latin and Arab worlds - Gaelic short and long sounds can sometimes be perceived - since their dictions are such a synthesis of several origins.
Nothing is left here of the schools of a Charles Dullin, so dear to the Comédie Française. On the contrary, ETANT DONNÉS is a corporal and semantic circus, yet without semantics.
With their oral and combinative strengths, Eric and Marc give us the action of theatre, from which dictions and descriptive declamations disappear. I could write to them in early December 1994: "[.] in the power of voices and semantics, as well as in the severe body/mind combination, inseparable from each other, I find in Aurore a song of the bodies, indispensable to any sound values. "
In addition to their violences, their sensuous delicacies often in these word cutouts, their nakedness and lights -indeed even made up - come accounts of naked men who need neither conventional costumes nor the devices of traditional stages any more.
What I felt on listening to Aurore was confirmed by Patrick Bossati in May 1992, in this excerpt:
"Be it poetry, cinema, sound, stage, everything the two of them do is done with a kind of rage that leaves you stunned. Their sound, for example, extensive, grave and apocalyptic, mixed from amplified natural elements, make those who listen dumbfounded. Their art is staggering in every respect, in the 16th century sense of the French word 'sidérant', when it meant: 'influenced by the stars'. Their music is a radioscopy of the chaos of the universe and of matter."
This duet, I insist, took form in 1980. It is part of the ineluctable (re)birth of oralities - exorcists - both re-discovered and discovered in the electronic worlds. Together with the passion of travels, where Etant Donnés is "staggering in every respect".
Any true sound poetry is shattering, the really oral one is there in space, with the plus of the media machines, of the voices that slip through them, overwhelming them with the splendour of the bodies.
Etant Donnes with Alan Vega
Etant Donnes with Alan Vega
photo © Joseph Caprio
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