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Conception Julie Nioche

The investment towards the body seems to reflect the relationship spent with the world. The feeling of possessing an unharmed body isn’t obvious, we don’t have a pre-conceived impression. To build ones self an image of the body is to give shape to a most imprecise material. We construct it and deconstruct it perpetually. Each movement can be considered as a series of evolving internal images. Disintegrating and assembling the body with images. The question is to situate the paradox of the body: object of communication and closed in at the same time. The question is to play with multiple images associated to our body’s visible one.
Julie Nioche

Conception Julie Nioche
Performed by Julie Nioche, Barbara Manzetti, Alice Daquet
Collaborators Solenn Camus, Sylvain Giraudeau, Gabrielle Mallet, Rachid Ouramdane, Christian Rizzo

Production association Fin novembre
With support from C.C.N. de Montpellier (ReRc program) and from Manège de Reims - Scène nationale

Duration : 45 mn


Association Fin novembre

Avec le soutien
du CCN de Montpellier (programme ReRc)
et du Manège de Reims - Scène nationale

X Project - by Julie Nioche

August 2000

What image(s) do we have of our own body?
Is there ONE objective image of our body?
What image do we finally choose to be there?
How do we work at its making?

The feeling of possessing an unharmed body is not at all self-evident.
We do not have a ready-made impression of our body.
To construct an image of the body is to give form to a most imprecise material.
When was the first image of our own body created?

The conscience of the body is not innate, it is acquired.
It is necessary to reach a feeling of internal gathering,
to a global image of the body to be able to be in "relation to".
The acquisition of the image of oneself can only be done by the mediation of the image and the glance of the other.
One of the means to feel this body integrity:
Putting oneself into movement.

Dance can be defined as a construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of the body image:
A work to disintegrate and reassemble it, ceaselessly.
Each movement is then a series of internal images in becoming.

The dance would be a way to know that our body belongs to us well; until its overflows.

The vision of our own body is necessarily subjective. What can then mean: "To have an altered image of the body"? Does it betray a distorted vision?
The investment brought to the body testifies of the lived relation with the world.

Isn’t dance a game of transformation of the body image?
To dance, is it not to play with false bodies invented from the present body?

September 2000

I set up a photographic device which is above all a pretext to ask some questions about the image that people have of their own body.

Meeting with 6 spectators during the opening of the season of the national scene of Reims. They represent for me a population having a customary relationship with their body.

I hear:

"If I am concerned about my image?... Yes... But in that sense; it is not so much for others as for myself.
It’s the state in which I feel good; that I’m going to work for, obviously, others but mostly so that I, myself, feel good with others."

"At the end of the day, I get to be satisfied with myself with who I’ve decided to be."

"You’re always concerned about your overall image, at any age, I think; and even the older you get the more concerned you are about your image because time doesn’t improve your image."

November 2000

Meeting with 6 young dancers of the junior ballet of the CNSM of Paris, my place of training.
Population witness for whom the body is the privileged instrument of investigation and communication.
Their body is in the process of becoming their working tool and is still the target of their "masters’" projections and their idealized vision of the dancer. They are troubled by the fact that their bodies do not yet correspond exactly to them; that their bodies are rather the result of images impregnated by their education.
They know they are in a profession of the image and wish to defend the idea that they invest much more.
I exhibit their photographic and sound portraits during the annual performances.

I hear:

"My image, mine. Yes, it’s clear, I am concerned about it. It’s probably because of the dance on the one hand, and then because I think we need to please others to feel better about ourselves, to love ourselves better.

"It’s true that it’s through the image that I want to convey sensations. Yes, that’s for sure."

"No I don’t think it’s my image that’s important. I don’t think that’s what’s going to matter the most actually, the image that’s there.
I think that once you are sure of what you want to be and what you want to do, the image doesn’t matter so much anymore. I think that others see what we are...well not...if I think so, except for the moments of doubt when we question our image a lot more."

"I think it’s really dancing that has made me complex about my breasts. I’m ready to have surgery, but I tell myself that if I lose weight I’ll lose breasts and I’ll be fine. So I’m still waiting to lose weight and then see what happens."

"I think that by controlling your body, by controlling your sensations as much as possible, you can say even more with your body."

December 2000

In order to reveal the troubles that "body image" can cause at certain moments in life, I confronted an extreme.
I worked with people whose body perception was altered by illness. I turned to eating disorders and more specifically to anorexia, which I often encountered during my career as a dancer.
The suffering of patients with anorexia nervosa is visible on their bodies, which have become the object of all constraints and challenges. They make the body a place of protest and denunciation.
It seems that the anorexic only seizes herself and her body as an "object" that she deprives in the hope that it will start to produce desire and not need. She considers her body as an object which, like all objects, is doomed to consumption, doomed to disappear. This order of things is more and more increased in our consumer societies where the availability is constantly increased, where everything is accessible.
The anorexics go until forbidding themselves all sensations and impose a total control of their body which embarrasses them.

January 2001

Meeting with an association that supports people suffering from eating disorders (anorexics and bulimics).

After several months of research, I consider anorexia nervosa as an illness that requires a resolution in "acting" and not only in speaking.
It is in this perspective that I elaborated my project of a dance workshop with a therapeutic aim in a University Hospital Center with young women suffering from this pathology. I used dance and photography to gradually approach the question of body image.
I only meet women who tell me about their malaise through their bodies.

I hear:
"I like to feel something in this body.
I think that my body is not at all the translation of what I am...I would be cotton what, finally something soft. Cotton, velvet, ... I would be cotton, something soft. Cotton, velvet, something... and my body is everything that’s prominent. My body hurts. My body hits. I wish I were a woman..."

April 2001

I gather some words that will clash with those of the spectators and the dancers.

I hear:

"I don’t feel myself, I don’t inhabit my body, I may have a private space in my head but not in my body, there I can’t say "I".
When I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t recognize myself, it’s not coherent, it’s false, there are too many things that are not mine.

"Sometimes when I think about myself, I feel like I’m virtual... like I have my head, my mind, my intellect... But if you take all that away; there’s nothing left."

"If I get up in the morning and I’m hungry and sore all day, I’m fine. If I see that it’s going to be aggression and I’m going to eat; my thinking is going to inhibit whatever my body is going to tell me. Because I’m going to completely think about trying to silence my body as much as possible."

June 2001

Being first a body and other things
A body made of traces Memory of flesh
Body with an "S" Invisible plural body
Or / single body for multiple appearances.

Small internal arrangements with the surface
Zone of indecision
Without forecasting so as not to have to accept change.

Manufacture of a body that manufactures / Return
Scrape Dig Dig Scrub Scrape
Layer after layer
Surface of ice on blood liquid
Return on the identical identity.
To You / To Become
Surface of projection for body-filter.
To be the breast of a witch before being reborn.
To remain on its hunger to always want some more.
To let the laughter erase the light.

July 2001

I question my practice of dance with regard to all these disorders testified.
I have the feeling that all that is at the origin of these disorders is what I do not cease playing with.
Having learned so much about the limits of the body, I only manipulate them and make them blur.
I use improvisation to simultaneously resonate information from within and without. This would be an attempt to make the body both receptive and reflexive.

How then to establish the limits of the body?

August 2001

The installation "X" confronts the words of all these people questioning themselves on the relationship which they maintain with their own image.

I decided to take an artistic approach rather than a sociological or psychological one in order to render all these testimonies.
I imagined a visual and sound installation which questions the image of the body and proposes a reading of it more blurred. "X" is an environment conducive to a "bodily listening" of these different words.

April 2002

The collaboration with Barbara MANZETTI is an attempt to give an "incarnated" version of this research.
The choreographic project " XX " is born from our research of construction and deconstruction of our bodies by playing with the codes of the representation.
It is through the intermediary of " objects-prostheses " elaborated with Solenn CAMUS that we approached by another means, the questions raised by the anorexic about the limit of the " material body ".
The delimitation of the body seems essential but also provokes a feeling of confinement. The physical and psychic prostheses are supports to delimit this body overflowing of ambiguities.
How to live with them in spite of their restrictions, or even to succeed in loving them...?
"XX" is situated in this paradox of the body: object of communication and enclosure at the same time.

April 2004

What is visible on the surface of our body is a testimony of our singularity which sometimes seems very little compared to the multiplicity of our personality.
How to make transpire the ambivalence of the being on the surface?
How to make appear all that escapes the body?

I invite Alice Daquet, singer and musician, to invest the voice in live transformations that accompany the modulations of the stage presence. All three of us play with the appearances of our bodies and the ambiguities they can create in what is beyond us. We improvise the multiple "images associated" with those of our visible bodies.
It is this invisible dimension of the body that we try to summon in XX with Alice.

With the help of Gabrielle MALLET, physiotherapist, I deepen the relationship to the object-prosthesis by working a thermoformable material usually used in case of fracture.
Through these "objects of beauty and repair" of the body, I try to be at this place where attraction has as much power as repulsion; to be at the border of a body that has become "magical".

Translated with (free version)

© Solenn Camus © Solenn Camus