Whilst the disused Parisian railway depot known as Chapelle Charbon begins its transformation into an urban park and housing, the opera company MDPA – Alexandra Lacroix, composer Marta Gentilucci, and Theatrum Mundi are proposing an innovative in situ performance work to capture the history of this exceptional space, but also create new memories through its sonic and kinetic activation.
The artists and researchers are building a new type of sound and performance work combining the names of local inhabitants with sonic materials derived from the site itself, taking the form of a multi-channel electro-acoustic installation and live vocal performance. Collaborating with groups from local schools and social centres, they have recorded hundreds of names that are made audible in the space as a way to mark the presence of the people they represent on a new public site that until now has been silent, empty and unknown.
With its first major outcome culminating in a large-scale public performance in 2020, this project is a long-term process of artistic creation but also of knowledge production. The Evens Foundation, in partnership with Theatrum Mundi, has initiated and commissioned research integrated into the project. This research is aimed at developing an understanding of how performance could offer a set of creative and participative tools to enrich in the relationship between people and a brand new public space. In other words, how performance could be a kind of urban design in itself.
The research project forms part of Evens Foundation’s focus on The Aesthetic Experience, a research and experimentation project to explore the conditions that enable a transformative aesthetic experience. Voi[e,x,s] represents a work strongly aligned with these interests, being constituted by relations between people, to a locality and territory, and an investment in a common symbolic world in that space.
Alongside the opportunity to produce scientific outcomes, one of the key objectives of this research is the development of a critical handbook aimed at a broad audience of practitioners, public authorities, and citizens, showing how and why such a performance-making process affects people’s relationship with each other and their environment.