A mischievous director and actor, he likes to play with spatial and temporal formats: his works are short forms or “real plays” designed for the stage or other spaces, for instance foyers or exhibition rooms.
Conférence de choses is a collaborative and encyclopedic stroll through the field of contemporary knowledge. The script also leaves room for improvisations, which react to the context of the performance.
From 14 to 18 November the conference takes place in different 53 min. versions at five locations in Basel. On 19 November a 5 hour-long conference will be presented at Museum Tinguely.
Conférence de choses is a journey to the heart of contemporary collaborative encyclopedic knowledge, revealing the vast fields it covers and some of the improbable paths that cross it. Pierre Mifsud – a kind of contemporary Pécuchet– arrives in the space, greets the audience, and begins jumping from link to link, leaping from subject to subject, bouncing from bisons to Queen Margot, from Descartes to Haribo sweets…he just never stops talking. The written text gives way to improvisations linked to the context of the performance.
Founded in 2005, 2b Company is based in Lausanne and headed by François Gremaud.
Over the years it has built up a repertoire of original creations, shows, and short theatrical and non-theatrical pieces. 2b Company produces two distinct types of performance: those of the Gremaud/Gurtner/Bovay collective (KKQQ ; Récital ; La Chorale ; Western dramedies…) whose members are François Gremaud, Michèle Gurtner and Tiphanie Bovay-Klameth, and François Gremaud's solo pieces (Simone, two, three, four; Re).
How can horse-drawn carriages, Annie Hall, Haribo sweets and sleeping cats appear in the same lecture? An encyclopaedic freedive with professor Pierre Mifsud, master of constant digression. ...
How can horse-drawn carriages, Annie Hall, Haribo sweets and sleeping cats appear in the same lecture? An encyclopaedic freedive with professor Pierre Mifsud, master of constant digression.
We’ve all done it: drifting around the Web. It’s no longer surfing, it’s more like a long sea voyage—with no compass. We wander around and change direction when an unexpected proposal sparks our curiosity or fires our imagination. We begin by looking for information about a cookery technique, and we end up looking into the circumstances of General Skobelev’s death.
François Gremaud, like all Swiss people born far from the sea, is a great navigator. He unfurls his sails on Wikipedia. He uses the search engine to cruise around. The Mac is his Ithaca, from which, more than once, he has found himself several time zones away. Dramaturgical research for his 2b company becomes a virtual Odyssey: all he has to do is respond to hypertext prompts. Try it yourself: travel around Wikipedia from hyperlink to hyperlink. You’ll move from the explanation of a situation to the definition of a term contained in the explanation, which then leads to a concept, which is presented using words that are then explained themselves on another page, etc. Never return to your starting point, and you’ll find yourself tapping into a surprising body of knowledge. It’s disparate knowledge, and yet its components are closely linked thanks to the virtual journey you have made.
This is how Conférence de choses was born. It’s a show rooted in the desire to transform this energising solitary experience into a playful collective cruise. An actor, Pierre Mifsud, plays the knowledgeable, precise role of a lecturer. This great helmsman of encyclopaedic knowledge eagerly repeats an obscure term to his audience, who are delighted at such erudition but sometimes nonplussed when faced with the complexity of a definition. He also sometimes illustrates a theory that is more difficult than usual with simple little teaching tools, such as a knowing glance or two coloured ballpoint pens transformed into “signifier” and “signified”. Certain professors at the Collège de France would gain in rhetorical effectiveness if they attended Mifsud’s edifying demonstration. He launches into an eight-hour marathon. The subjects are to be metaphysics, Annie Hall, cars, phaetons (and Phaetons), Cygnos, sign language, phonemes, sleeping cats…so many hyper-interconnected subjects. Not without humour, the actor Pierre Mifsud and his director François Gremaud deal with these subjects, always using the place where the Conférence de choses is being held as their starting point. This is how all the paths of knowledge, urbi et orbi, lead to Haribo sweets, which you’ll agree is hardly unpleasant.
Fans of the Oulipo will recognise themselves in the Conférence de choses. They should be equally interested in another project by the green-eyed, soft-spoken artist, who once presented a multimedia show entitled KKQQ: along with actress Viviane Pavillon and dancer Martin Schick, François Gremaud is currently developing an on-going performance that grows in five-minute increments each time it is presented—five minutes of extra time purchased by each new host venue. It’s a delicious constraint. For each chunk of time, the Gremaud-Schick-Pavillon trio adopts and preserves the language of the host country (French, Flemish, Finnish, Croatian, German, and dialects already feature on the verbal menu), whilst announcing the actions, words and accidents that will appear in the minutes (or, hypothetically, hours) that will follow. In December, at the Centre Culturel Suisse, the new show will thus be entitled 40 minutes. A temporary title and an invitation, as in Conférence de choses, to explore the unlimited nature and the impermanence of our condition.
Thierry Sartoretti, arts journalist at RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse)