Dérives with Cécile B. Evans

Online
First broadcast 75 days ago

Dérives with Cécile B. Evans

1h
Cécile B. Evans' work deals with emotions, resistance, and change.
For this next Dérives talk, we will explore the artist's shifting, playful, and deep investment with the various sources that inspire their films, from collected Tweets to classical ballet.

In conversation with associate curator Madeleine Planeix-Crocker, Cécile B. Evans will discuss questions of visibility, ethics, and collaboration as present in their creative process.
Talk
Online
Thursday 15 Jul 2021
from 07 pm to 08:15 pm

With

Cécile B. Evans is an American-Belgian artist living and working in London.

Evans’ work examines the value of emotion and its rebellion as it comes into contact with ideological, physical, and technological structures. They are currently working on a new performance commission for the MOVE festival at Centre Pompidou Paris (FR). Recent selected solo exhibitions include 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine (FR), Museum Abteiberg (DE), Tramway (UK), Chateau Shatto (US), Museo Madre (IT), mumok Vienna (AT), Castello di Rivoli (IT), Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna (AT), Tate Liverpool (UK), Kunsthalle Aarhus (DK), M Museum Leuven (BE), De Hallen Haarlem (NL), and Serpentine Galleries (UK). Evans’ work has been included amongst others at Whitechapel Gallery (UK), Haus der Kunst (DE), Mito Art Tower (JP), Renaissance Society Chicago (US), the 7th International Moscow Biennale (RU), the 4th Ural Industrial Biennial (RU), Galerie Kamel Mennour (FR), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen (DK), the 9th Berlin Biennale (DE), the 20th Sydney Biennale (AUS), Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (ES), and Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris (FR). Evans’ films have been screened in festivals such as the New York Film Festival and Rotterdam International. Public collections include The Museum of Modern Art, New York (US), The Rubell Family Collection, Miami (US), Whitney Museum of American Art (US), De Haallen (NL), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (IT), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen (DK), and FRAC Auvergne (FR).

More info

Originaire de Los Angeles, Madeleine Planeix-Crocker est curatrice associée à Lafayette Anticipations.

En 2018, elle y a fondé les "Warm Up Sessions", un cycle de rencontres publiques et participatives autour des pratiques de training en danse et en performance. Au printemps 2021, elle propose la série "Dérives" qui souhaite contribuer à l'écriture de nouvelles histoires des arts à travers des dialogues co-construits avec des artistes contemporain·e·s. Ses intérêts se portent à la croisée de la recherche et de la curation de performances féministes, queer et intersectionnelles.

Madeleine est également co-directrice de la Chair “Troubles, Dissidences et Esthétiques” au Beaux Arts de Paris et membre permanent du Conseil Scientifique de le Recherche de l’ESAD de Reims. 

Diplômée de Princeton University en études culturelles, Madeleine a obtenu un Master spécialisé en Médias, Art et Création de HEC Paris et un M2 à l’EHESS. Elle y a porté un projet de recherche-création avec l’association Women Safe, où elle mène désormais un atelier de théâtre et d’écriture créative. Madeleine poursuit actuellement une thèse à l’EHESS (CRAL) autour des performances en commun contemporaines en France.

Elle pratique la danse et le théâtre depuis l’enfance.

About

Credits

Amos' World, video installation, 2017-18, co-commissioned by mumok (Vienna), Museum Abteiberg, FRAC Lorraine, and Tramway (Glasgow), courtesy the artist, LAYR Vienna, and Chateau Shatto (Los Angeles). 

What the Heart Wants, video installation, 2016, commissioned by the 9th Berlin Biennale in co-production with De Hallen Frans Hals Museum, Kunsthalle Winterthur, and Kunsthalle Aarhus. Courtesy the artist.

Notations for an Adaptation of Giselle (welcome to whatever forever), 6 channel installation, 2020, commissioned by Centre Pompidou, curated by Caroline Ferreira. Featuring performances by Alexandrina Hemsley and Sakeema Crook.

for A Future Adaptation (Willis' battle of whatever forever), 3 channel installation, 2021, co-commissioned by Kistefos Museum and Ballet Nationale de Marseille / (LA)HORDE, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum. Featuring performances by members of Ballet National de Marseille and L'Ecole Nationale de Danse de Marseille. Courtesy the artist, LAYR Vienna, and Chateau Shatto (Los Angeles). Part of the ongoing project A Future Adaptation.

Transcript

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Hello to everyone and welcome to this third talk included in the Lafayette Anticipations public program series titled Dérives. My name is Madeleine Planeix-Crocker, and I'm associate curator at the Foundation. Today, I'm overjoyed to welcome artist Cécile B. Evans, with whom we will discuss some sources as portals into their work that, in very broad strokes, tackles questions of technology, ecosystems, and shifting identities and relationships within troubled worlds. Hey, Cécile!

Cécile B. Evans

Hey, how are you? 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Fine. I'm really happy to have you here. 

Cécile B. Evans

Same. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

To build up to your current work, I wanted us to return to an earlier film of yours, Hyperlinks or it Didn't Happen from 2014, which directly deals with questions of citation. An accompanying glossary to the film reminds us that a hyperlink is “a reference to external data that a reader can open either by clicking or by hovering over a point of origin. From the Greek hyper, which means over, beyond, above measure”. Now, what this definition seems to expose is a contrast of scale between what is accessed in excess, namely via the World Wide Web, and then what gets hidden, stored or erased. In Hyperlinks, your film, we are shown how the excess of information and the tools, processes, and protocols deployed to produce and reference this content can be used as a literal and metaphorical cover-up of people and their stories. To make this claim, you refer to two major works : Notes from Underground, an 1864 memoir by Dostoïevski, and Invisible Man, a 1953 novel by Ralph Ellison, which both feature narrators bearing witness to the world from the underground. You wanted to share a passage from Notes from Underground with us.

Cécile B. Evans

Yeah. it's just this long monologue, like the same way you would maybe today hear it from a YouTuber. This is from the man who's underground who says, "Then, you say, science itself will teach man (though to my mind it's a superfluous luxury) that he never has really had any caprice or will of his own, and that he himself is something of the nature of a piano-key or the stop of an organ, and that there are, besides, things called the laws of nature; so that everything he does is not done by his willing it, but is done of itself, by the laws of nature. Consequently, we only have to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world. Then -- this is all what you say -- new economic relations will be established, all ready-made and worked out with mathematical exactitude, so that every possible question will vanish in the twinkling of an eye, simply because every possible answer to it will be provided. Then the 'Palace of Crystal' will be built." I always get chills when I read that part. 

I think this sort of rallying rant across a really dense Dostoïevski novel is like something you see historically in literature over and over again. Even within its imperfection, and there's this great intro that Dostoïevski gives at the beginning, that essentially introduces this archetype of the unreliable narrator who is in and of themselves a paradox. I just think that's for all of the foibles of that book, I think that is such a strong position to start to tell a story. Hyperlinks or It Didn't Happen, that's essentially what it is. It opens on this failure of a copy of someone else, and speaks from that position. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

There are other things that you also explore, I think with a lot of openness in Hyperlinks, in which we witness a very specific interest of yours in female-identified bodies and their work as represented in and by digital histories and technologies. You provide two examples, which really caught my attention. The first of which is 'Computer Girls', which is a term coined by computer scientist, Dr. Grace Hopper, to describe these real life, female programmers from the '60s who were completely forgotten by history. Then a second example of the Wangjaesan troupe, which is a North Korean all-girl group, whose early 2000 performance was supposedly banned, leading to a flurry of online rumors that the group had been murdered, a claim that was later disproved. I wanted to share this excerpt and then we can discuss those examples.

Extrait Hyperlinks

Our world is full of women. In the '60s, a band of them called the Computer Girls put forward the image that programming is women's work. In the 1967 Cosmopolitan article, Dr. Grace Hopper discussed why this field was a natural choice for ladies. They have patience and attention to detail. "It's like planning a dinner, she said. To plan a perfect dinner, you must be a perfect host. To be a perfect host requires a certain amount of invisibility." There are women here like these North Korean dancers whose existence has a convenient flexibility. Here they are dancing to the Western song "What a Feeling" for a private audience. Sometime later, this video of their performance leaked to the media which caused a scandal in the hermetic country. Sometime later, it was announced that several members had been executed. Some more time later, they reappeared to celebrate their eternal leader's birthday. All of these amounts of time were indiscriminate.

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

In a way, Hyperlinks demonstrates how erased or misinformed histories can become sites of trauma. Cécile, could you tell us a little bit more about how this film deals with the questions of recentering narratives of trauma through the use of what you call “digital resurrection”.

Cécile B. Evans

This was really I have to say 2014, the first kind of this film that was dealing with this question of a group of entities existing within a structure and grappling with the meaning in their own agency. This idea of where trauma lives and that it's this physical thing, right. This was a conscious choice to make these entities digital entities and also to give them each a physical location. Phil, the narrator, who we heard, he is a failed copy of a very famous actor who lives on a studio hard drive that's locked up and hidden from people. Then the Computer Girls and this idea of erasure, that in the beginning, this was seen as women's work and eventually, as computers took on a more serious dimension within society, their work was erased. 

When I was looking through documents, a lot of times the women being pictured would be called the models who were displaying the computers, but then there's a whole other layer to that, which isn't explicitly discussed in Hyperlinks, but in future films, I get to get into a bit more, which is like the layers of erasure, that 40 years later, these women resurface, but they're a very particular kind of white, able bodied, attractive woman. It's interesting that that's what, even in a critical context, people become interested in. Then the thing with this digital resurrection… So to explain maybe a bit of backstory very concisely as possible. So this very famous actor who shall remain out of respect, nameless, he passed away and it was this first kind of real outpouring of grief on the internet that felt very contagious. It was palpable, people wrote articles about it. He passed away in the middle of filming this huge blockbuster series. There was discussion about creating a CGI version of him. People were really upset about this and so they got rid of it. So I was like, "Oh, God." It's like the time that had elapsed between that announcement and then the revoking of that announcement, they must have tried to do that, and it failed. So somewhere, there's this digital copy sitting somewhere, not doing what it was meant to do. 

I was also really interested in this idea of something that was distinctly not the original because our relationship to celebrities and actors is always through the image. It's always this parasocial relationship and the way that those images become objects that people feel that they can collect, or that they can have ownership over. I think I was really interested in the absurdity of then the attempt or the struggle to gain agency back again, in that way, and for that to be a real honest, non-binary discussion and very paradoxical. I went and visited the hologram company, Hologram USA, I think they're called, who make these digital resurrections. They worked on the Tupac Shakur at Coachella. They also worked on the Marilyn Monroe one, the Frank Sinatra one. It's just interesting because it's like some of it is just straight exploitation and some of it is because even just the family wants to spend more time with any of them and it's sort of the closest approximation to a physical manifestation of memory. But it's interesting this slippage between the original and the copy, and then trauma and memory as being these separate third physical entities that are able to travel and commune between those different bodies, if that makes sense. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Definitely. I think that that's also what Dostoïevski is pointing to, in a sense, with his narrator who speaks of himself as unreliable because we don't know if these digital resurrections, what impact they're going to have, that they're going to be imperfect, just like their human copy also. I think that that's where he's extremely prescient, 

Cécile B. Evans

Yeah, and that things like human emotions or memories, you can't codify them. This is something that in every era people have tried to do, which is to find a way to explain our existence. Even to say that we have one existence or one reality is incredibly violent, and also becomes incredibly difficult for people and for entities to gain or regain agency within those structures because it's like a constant denial. Dostoïevski talks about it in this framework of adventure, but you could also see adventure as evolution. This to me has always been the irony with Darwin, it's like the more you categorize the process of human evolution, the more you prevent it from continuing. But the more you make a sort of like in this case, white patriarchal stamp of ownership over it, and that becomes data for future structures like capitalism to use.

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

The question of memory precisely moves us forward in time to another one of your films, What the Heart Wants, as it pertains to place. Here, the Berman House, named after its original owners, located in New South Wales, Australia, and built by Austrian architect Harry Seidler, is featured as set and scenography for your piece. By pooling this site a source, I understand that it's fraught with tensions pertaining to the house's construction, ownership and reuse in commercial work, or artwork, such as your own. Here, the personal, the anecdotal and the political become entwined through affect. Let's discover some images of the house and then maybe you could tell us a little bit more about an email exchange you had with the former owner of the house as she discovered your film by chance at the Sydney Biennale.,then as a result, contacted you.

Cécile B. Evans

This is leading up to What the Heart Wants. So this isn't the final version. Always, in these large maximalist works, there's many steps and many works that then feed into a final work. 

This one introduces the character of Hyper, who is the continuation of a potential future leading off of Hyperlinks or It Didn't Happen. Hyper owns this future, after the collapse of the World Wide Web. This is Hyper's house because it made sense to me that this future artificial intelligence would live in the ruins of 500 years from now, which are modernist, industrialist, etc. 

Basically, I received this email when I got back from Australia, essentially saying that this woman and her daughter were traumatized watching it and that they had to leave the exhibition because that used to be their house. That they had commissioned that house with her then husband, and eventually had to leave that house, but in really, really, in no uncertain terms, we should clear that the memories because the excerpt talks about Hyper's memories are the memories of a place. They belong to her. She said, "That memory is mine." 

I thought this was such a vivid and strong emotional reaction. I was like, "You're right, but you're also wrong." I wrote her back and was like, "Hey, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Clearly on the one hand, this is my fault for not contextualizing this properly, but I also want to point out that memory is transient and we have multiple physical things at play." We have the land, which is an Aboriginal land in Australia, so I'm sure there are lots of memories happening there. Then there's her, then there's the person, there's the memories of the government agents who had to seize the property because the original commissioner—it's known as the Berman House—was Mr. Berman who was a publishing magnate.

But yeah, a lot of people have memories about that place.  It's like a network of memories that exists here. 

That now it's up on Airbnb, and I'm sure lots of families have had wonderful memories of that place. I ended up including it in the final, long format version of What the Heart Wants because I think it really also pointed to this thing that I was talking about before, which is memory as this separate entity that has the possibility to outlive its original host. So that moment is acknowledged. 

So it's this thing of like, who is trying to own narratives and how are things like memory and trauma used as pawns within that ownership? Yeah, I'm always interested in that and then also the possibility that there are multiple narratives that are constantly criss-crossing each other and collapsing and coming back at completely unexpected moments. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Let's check out how the house is featured in What the Heart Wants.

Video Speaker: This is where I call home. This butterfly is from a region in the Amazon that is so deprived of sodium, that they drink the tears of turtles to survive. So many memories happened in this house, and they often come back to remind me of that. They want to be heard. These memories are large, deep and real. The forced leaving of their owners leaves them vulnerable, and they struggle to keep their shape. A memory is telling me now, "You're extremely insensitive and your words are shallow, given the depth of emotion and experience that the house holds for me. What do you think gives you the right to talk about memory in relation to this place? I don't even know who you are." There are many things I want to say to the memory, but then its history begins to change and the memory in part becomes mine. Some feelings are best left unshared, unanswered and in the wild, this memory will mutate and grow like fear. It's always been unclear to me, if the butterflies actually like the taste of tears. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Could you tell us more about how your discovery of the Berman House in the context of your film production led you to explore the questions of who has the memory of a place, who gets to reference it and then more generally, how this informs your understanding of citational ethics? 

Cécile B. Evans

Then there's always, of course, this question of the ethics of citation, which is like a constant battle because it is really paradoxical. It's like as it's written, anytime you touch something, its shape changes. I think like as much as I want to avoid a hierarchy when I'm working and also even within the characters, the final process is the script. 

That's a way of redistributing everything, redistributing the narratives and not giving too much weight to one thing. I think I have to acknowledge that at the end, I will always be credited as the author and so ultimately, I'm responsible for any mistakes that are made in terms of the handling of the ethics of things. I think that's something that I'm both uncomfortable and have to be comfortable with. 

So in a situation where I'm approached by this woman, the first thing I have to do is acknowledge, if I'm going to make a film that says that feelings are real and memories are real and undeniable, I do have to acknowledge that her feelings are real and then I have to put it into context. It's like that context and that, for lack of a better word, dramaturgy is like these are all just code words to say that as an artistI have to live in the world and I have to engage with people, but also engaging with people in a way that doesn't ask them to do the work. So whether that's paying people that I'm consulting, including them in the process, but also making those lines really clear that I'm not here to take anything personal from them.

So how do I make the task that I've asked someone, whether it's to help with the script or to be a performer, how do I actually create those professional boundaries, so that they never feel obligated to give any more than they want to? Also, so that they understand that it's a constant process of consent. They can revoke it at any time and I have to deal with that.

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Definitely. So the question of responsibility follows you, leading us into yet another project of yours, where the figure of the architect serves as bridge, to this later television show titled Amos' World, composed of three episodes. Amos, the protagonist, is the architect of this socially progressive housing estate and he finds himself challenged by dissent amongst its tenants. The breaks within Amos' “perfect individual communal fantasy, for the capitalist age”, reveal weak infrastructure and also the potential for new foundations. To think of this piece, you pooled from architectural theory, namely from French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier's Ville Radieuse, an urban design project imagined for social reform. British architects, Peter and Alison Smithson also influenced Amos' World. We're going to discover a late 1960s interview of the Smithsons describing their Robin Hood Gardens project in London's East End.

Video speaker: It is a model, an exemplar of a new mode of urban organization. you'll be able to smell, feel and experience the new life that's being offered through your full range of senses. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

In the following excerpt from episode two of Amos' World, the character of the Weather confronts Amos with the news of the housing estate’s demolition, and of an impending uprising amongst the tenants that promises to destabilize Amos' status as the architect. 

Video plays Amos World

Amos: …destroy the potential this building has. 

Weather: Had once but no longer. The building was conceived with potential, I will give you that. People believed in it and that was real. 

Amos: It's called reality. 

Weather: The district doesn't have the money to maintain the building or refurbish it. They never did. They will make a lot of money from the acquisition of the land. 

Amos: I must do something. 

Weather: None of that money is for you. 

Amos: This is outrageous. Something must be done to stop them. 

Weather: They're offering to put up a plaque with your name on it. 

Amos: A plaque? How tacky? 

Weather: That's how the district approved the planning. The developers showed an interest in the legacy, engagement and spirit of a community. They want to revitalize the domain. 

Amos: But I'm not dead yet. 

Weather: Sad. It's in a sad state. 

Amos: What about the tenants? This is their home. 

Weather: The district is singing the same song. 

Amos: The developers are the opposition. I must defend the tenants. I feel responsible. 

Weather: Now you feel responsible. 

Amos: If the building is to be revolutionary, then I will be the face of the revolution. 

Weather: I would have thought the tenants would be the face of the revolution. 

Amos: Yes, yes, you're right. Put them forward, but my name is behind it. Give credit where credit is due. 

Weather: But it hasn't happened yet. Something tactical is coming. 

Amos: It's happening. I'm happening, again.

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker

It's really wonderful that Smithson is taking a sensorial approach into account within his construction. But how realistic is that? I think that that does lead me to the question : in what way did your approach to architectural theory and history inform your understanding of social constructs, such as hierarchies, which you really seem to be questioning in this excerpt between the Weather and Amos in particular? Second part of the question, perhaps you could tell us more about how this approach influences the collaborative research and creative methods implemented in the making of your own films, which takes into account the volitions of the people you're working with? 

Cécile B. Evans

Yeah. Two very big questions. The first one, to me, architecture and social construct, those theories are the same. 

I live next to Robin Hood Gardens. It's a travesty and a disaster. It is the only social housing project that the Smithsons ever worked on. Even in the interview right at the top and also in subsequent interviews that are really well documented, they talk about the failures of that place as being the tenants' faults. There's a line in Amos' World about how the architect can't be faulted basically, if they're not using the spaces in the right way. They're not using the right garbage bags or… They're just being themselves. There's also no room within these offerings for communities and for those communities to change over time. There was also no infrastructure to back it up. Aside from Le Corbusier's, and I have The Radiant City right here crazy book, which you can buy for a lot of money on AbeBooks. These are like institutions, these are like definitions, like aspirational visions for life that actually very few people fit into or are able to fit into. 

Cécile B. Evans

My approach was really to use architecture as a metaphor for these social contructs and to apply that to things like the architecture of the internet. You mentioned this like it starts out as this place where we unlock the next level of perception and it's like having these masses of information at our disposal. Then over years, more and more infrastructure is built so that it becomes one internet, not one of many. So that those roads are owned by Google, by Apple by, whoever, and they start to limit under this guise of helping us, of offering us this great new life that's going to solve all these problems, but that actually limits the possibilities of how you can get the skills and the toolset to build the kind of worlds that you want to exist in. That's really the struggle that the tenants are negotiating, not just against the architect, but also amongst each other. That's also what's important, I think, and I have to constantly remind myself is these hierarchies go from the top all the way out. They're expansive, and constantly also morphing. 

Social progressiveness is a very confusing state of neoliberal, like confusing all of these terms into this saleable, easy to define package, which goes back to the Dostöievski and forwards to amazing writers like Edouard Glissant and Sylvia Wynter, who talk about the amazing eligibility of humanity, and how to fight against these hierarchies and against these human genres. 

That is a hierarchical architecture. It's like at this stage, we can acknowledge within many of these spaces, they're not for anyone. They're for this fictional universalist human that someone like Amos really built their whole image in. It's like that is so unimaginative. That's like the big crisis that he has at the end as the Weather points out to him, like you're the least imaginative person I know. 

Cécile B. Evans

An imagination is all I have as an artist. That's literally my only strength, is my imagination. I have to cultivate that potential within my own practice. There's that super cheesy Godard's quote that always gets tossed around, "I don't make political films, I make things politically." I don't make radical films, I make them radically or ethics or ethically, imaginative, imaginatively. It's just that's how I want to do things. That's hard because I have my blind spots because there are structural shortfalls that exist. I think, with this latest project that I hope we can talk about a bit, which is an adaptation of the ballet Giselle, I'm really testing my limits and my capacity to create a working structure that doesn't just replicate the problems of the structures we're trying to critique. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Let's go ! Notations for an Adaptation of Giselle also discusses questions of community and rebellion. In this ongoing and multifaceted project, you returned to the 1841 ballet, Giselle, from the classical repertoire and question the significance of its potential adaptation set in the near future, or actually more of a distant future. There, Giselle and her friends, the Wilis, have moved from a failed metropolis—so starting to sound familiar—to the mother's rural village to reset society. The plot turns into that of an eco-feminist thriller, as an unnamed presence invades and contaminates their community. So it's the threat of old power dynamics returning to haunt the scene. And a recurring motto appears as Giselle chants in rebellion "No cops, no jail, no linear fucking time." 

I understand that you came across the slogan on Twitter, maybe you could tell us just a couple words about how you came across it on Twitter, and maybe Twitter as a platform for sourcing content and your response to it. 

Cécile B. Evans

I use my own Twitter feed almost as like a notebook. Little things that come to mind or things that I find and I just put them there because my emails have gotten too intense, or I have too many Google Docs going on. This is an appropriate misuse of the platform, in my opinion. Five months into the pandemic, this image started circulating, "No cops, no jail, no linear fucking time". I thought it really encapsulated so much of not just these singular, well, falsely singular events, like the uprisings in Minneapolis after the brutal murder of George Floyd, but this lineage of abolition, anti-structure and then the biggest structure, of course, being time.

Because I was a person who was pregnant at the time. When we went into lockdown, I was essentially told by the government to never leave the house. It's like this thing happened, where I would spend hours and hours on the phone. I became completely disconnected, like most people with a notion of linear time. This felt really radical in a positive way because I felt I saw a lot of my friends and my peers reclaiming their time, but also rendering their demands illegible. 

I brought a lot of that into the script. In Notations for an Adaptation of Giselle (welcome to whatever forever), the full title, which was commissioned for the Centre Pompidou, the characters talk in threads. They'll say "One of four", to indicate also that this is a conversation that doesn't start or end there. That it's about to be interrupted. I borrowed a lot of tweets. I mean, in this case, a lot of them end up being unattributed because they are unattributed authors, and to some extent, they've become part of the public domain. In those instances, it's just important for me to do my best to frame them so that it's clear this is not something that the character or myself has come up with, or to have a conversation with the performers about their level of comfortability of their character owning that phrase and what stands behind it. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Let's check out that passage. 

Video Notations for an Adaptation of Giselle (welcome to whatever forever)

Our resistance has gotten weird, impossible to recognize. One citizen is captured and then becomes another. The landscape glimmers with a thousand faces all at once, and shows no signs of retreating. The timeline has skipped out of time. There are movements of weather, punctuated by sunsets, melting into egg yolks thrown at sheets of ice. The citizens of Carcinellox and distillery workers have staged a boycott. "Strike," She comes out of the door and dances. This is such a Giselle moment. They're suddenly confronted with a gratifying sense of recognition. We will fight, "No cops, no jail, no linear fucking time." No cops, no jail, no linear fucking time. It's born already, forever, and it will always. I am not a mother because mothers do die. I am not the boss of you, or any living creature known. You will be the television. I will not call uncle or family or overtime, because overtime is something you run out on and it fucks you. You be the overtime. Run into it and then let it pay you over and over and over again. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

What I like about this excerpt is that we return to some of the more classical representations of Giselle, who in the original performance dies of a broken heart. Whereas in Notations, her death proposes mutability and multiplicity as a strategy for escape from essentialist representations that would have previously encaptured the original Giselle. You started mentioning how some of the current social uprisings provide a sort of lens for you to review the canon. I was wondering if you could develop that and also expand on how that questions your reverence to reference, and maybe messes with it, too. 

Cécile B. Evans

Yeah. I mean, it's important to say that the original Giselle is born from the Industrial era, and it really touted itself as being very socially progressive because it was the first ballet that was told from the perspective of the peasant class. I came to it with that energy. I was like, "Oh, wow, I had no idea. Great." I willfully misunderstood when Giselle dies and then she gets taken up by the Wilis, this gang of undead jilted female-identified bodies. Then these men show up and they kill them. They kill my least favorite character on Giselle, which is Giselle's nagging boyfriend, who is upset she didn't pick him. I was like, "Wow, this is incredible." 

Basically, this is all about Giselle entering this new realm, and their negotiation with these other people or these other entities in the realm as they forge a new world.

So I was like, I'm going to continue with my willful misunderstanding of this. This is in the public domain. Also, whatever I come up with, it's going to be so bonkers. I basically want to misuse this and eventually also use it. What it's become now is it's more about the process of adaptation.

The story is really shifted so that it's about the director who's played by a plant and their family as they struggle to adapt the ballet Giselle as modern world is collapsing.

So all I can do is zoom out, look at okay, what are the larger structural things I can talk about? I can talk about the process of change, and the process of adaptation, and how difficult that is and how often we fail at that. 

That's also why I wanted to switch it so like the story of Giselle can now be this political tale always was. It's talked about, though, within this envelope that that tale is always told from a perspective that is unreliable. I think today, it's probably the only really personal work that I've made.

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

That brings us to your most current work, also dealing with Giselle and currently titled For a Future Adaptation. The reference to dance is very much on display here, in the work in progress that you were generous enough to share with me, especially as you were able to collaborate with dancers from the Ballet National de Marseille school and company. For this next part of the project that will in part portray the Wilis' battle against the threatening forces. I was wondering if you could talk us, walk us, through some of the movement-based sources you shared with the dancers to help you through this next chapter.

How do these varied sources help you imagine choreographing the revolution? 

Cécile B. Evans

I'll start, I'll even break that short question into two questions. In terms of choreography, the way I use references like this is in two ways. The first one is Paprika, where I'll watch something and I'll say, "Oh, my God, I'll never do anything as good as this. I just want to be inspired by it." I mean, so many people like Christopher Nolan's entire œuvre is basically Paprika. Then I redeveloped moves through a workshop with the dancers. So that was born out of that reference. Then with Faye Driscoll, I think it's more like I have these movement visions that I can't articulate through my own body and its limitations. I have a really good memory for this stuff and it's like I'll just go or I'll go scouring the internet or libraries or talk to people and be, "Hi, do you know, I have this movement? It's like swatting a fly, but you're like stop in the name of love first?" Like, stop in the name of love, swat a fly, and then your body loses all of its momentum." 

Then they'll be like, "Oh, my God, Faye Driscoll did this at the Kitchen in 2007, on the Catch series." Then I'll find that and then be like, "This is what I'm talking about. We need to do this." Because it's like nothing I think of is that original. Someone has done something like it that we can then reverse engineer and edit. That's how I use those. Then choreographing the revolution, I'll quote a line from that old script that Giselle says. When Alexandrina first spoke this, it sent chills up my spine. She really gave life to it. She says, "The revolution will be uncertainty, not me." I don't think you can choreograph the revolution. I think it's something that happens. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Yeah. Do you want to share your screen and show us some of the material, the current material? 

Cécile B. Evans

I'm currently working on or working towards a final iteration of the adaptation of Giselle, which is now just called A Future Adaptation. When I'm working on something, I'll start to develop like well, what is it going to look like and maybe it will not look like this. When I talk about the director, that character is now this rubber plant, which is based on a real rubber plant, which is actually the rubber plant from the Hyperlinks or It didn't Happen installation. This is the plant's partner, who is a camera who is helping the plant with their struggle and adapting and then this arrival of a baby named Era, who inexplicably and unexpectedly starts to intertwine the fictional realm. Well, the fictional realm, the non-fictional realm and the non, non, non-fictional realms, so it's never ending. 

As an artist, I don't want to tell you what that revolution is going to look like. I'd rather just set up a situation with the plant and the camera and the baby and this fictional realm, where there's a discussion about what that feels like when you start to get there. The only thing I would want is for audiences who've been through so much and who are going to be bringing so much is to taste it. That's all I want. That's all I'm obsessed with. I want you to taste the reality of how hard that is, but also how incredibly thrilling, radical and confusing that is. That's what I really want to explore. 

Madeleine Planiex-Crocker

Thank you very much, Cécile, for taking the time to share these sources and doing so with an immense amount of honesty, and the vulnerability that goes along with that. I'm extremely appreciative of the efforts that you put into making this talk happen and for our viewers to be able to get a little bit more insight into your work process, which is intrinsically collaborative and open. Thanks, Cécile, for taking the time.

Cécile B. Evans

Thank you for speaking with me and everyone for listening.