Nathalie Papillon - interview for "Straiht Ahead"- Maac - Brussels - october 2018


Maison d’Art Actuel des Chartreux
Expo : 12.10.18 > 1.12.18

The exhibition Straight Ahead by Belgian artist Claude Cattelain gathering the practice he conducted during his three-year residency at the Maison d'Art Actuel des Chartreux. His works are driven by enchantment of unstable constructions, tensity and counterbalance.
One of the essential issues I find in work of Cattelain, is the control of time, and the acceleration or stretching of time. There, remains however, some spheres that resist. Among these spaces that Cattelain builds in his installations.
Before the artist leaving his studio in the MAAC, we met for exchanging some ideas about his artistic practice.
NC : The visually immersive open-rear installation of yours, completely covered with wet clay, marked by imprints and traces of performative actions, has amazed me! I was wonder, Is the part of intuition is indispensable to your work ?
CC: “It started when I found some clay left-overs accumulated in my studio and i wanted to spread them out (étaller) on a surface, so slowly it will cover everything. It was simple and clear for me as image, with no limits apart the space itself, Its as the throwing rocks scene in Stalker, where this is how they know about the direction. The instinct bring it from the body to the landscape. that’s a principle.”
*Do you believe repetitions has something to do with courage ?
CC: “No, Not specially. Its more about finding the limit of the movement, the gesture, the repetition is there to explore the physically limit of your body. When you make a repetitive action, to walk, build, re-build invariable constructions. Its not a question about courage, it about what happen when you do something over and over again, then something different happen that you don’t control over, maybe I’m in this research of this moment, when something unusual, unpredictable arrives. And I try be very attentive, when i work with repetitive actions, being careful with all these little things that I can not predict. After, there’s something else in the repetition, “La fatigue”, you try to do more far then you’re usual habits, you’re in a state of mind of concentration that create something very clear of the present moment. I like this kind of action, you splited with your body what you have to do something in this axact moment...”
NC: If the first part is the limit research, and then, the moment of surprise, does sometimes its became literally, as if being on the edge, moments of not falling...
CC: “Yes, In the past, in my video work of being on the border of the roof top (titre ?), moving slightly behind on the verge... If I’m able to make that in my own apartment or at another place, Of course in this situation I didn’t wanted to fall, I’m waiting to this surprise, I’m interested in all these little moments you cannot divine, when a leaf fall of a tree...? why this moment and not a second after, its as miracle.. In this action there’s very tiny poetic detailes that astonish me...”
NC: Indeed, this embodied preciseness also transmitted to the spectator experience I believe, when he/she obliged to enter also to a state of concentration in the gaze of the performance.. that leads me to the next question, about the sauna-cabines. I felt there’s a certain amount of silence charged with the visitor listening there. How you considered to build this atmosphere within the space ?
CC: “Well.. first It was about importation of an exterior architecture to an interior one. From this impressions of perspectives I created the inside the cabines, after that, I think when I make an exhibition with videos, I try to create a climate for presenting them, there’s something plastic. Its necessary to take the hand of the visitor and drive them to a different feeling, which is speaking about the world outside with the filter of an art-proposal. I’m more and more intrigued by physical installations, when the body of the visitors are slightly disturbs, something that is unusual for them. To create something with their body so maybe they can enter to my work.. with their own mind. Its simply about narrowing (rétrécissement).. I work from the body to a landscape, there’s are many metaphors of what you explore with your body and the world outside.”
*moment of silence, while NC writing down again CC last sentence..*
CC: “You know, because for me, its more and more important exhibition after exhibition, to don't make an exhibition. I’m not sure its good now, Its away for me this direction.... today I more interested by life, its often difficult to create artistic project and to see its not life... and... shyly, for example I love to have the participation of people who’re not interested in art... last year, there was a small form in clay my daughter July did that was also included in the presentation, there was no idea behind it, just simply it was funny to play with the clay. I wish to open my work to these essential and natural directions... as if life and art will be the same thing.”
NC: I see what you mean, this moments of disbelief you cant differentiate whether its art or life.. or perhaps how they translate each other...
CC: “Yes its a contradiction, you want to create something strong, but also be home quietly... where is the border.. The essential work of an artist must be how to connect these two possibilities”
NC: maybe because of that I was thinking about courage as other values such persistence and perseverance.. its beyond artistic practice, it’s for surviving...
For attacking another subject, Lets talk about your installation at the exhibition at Brasserie Atlas, Anderlechet last month « La poursuite des choses évidentes » part of collaboration with En silence.
When I visited it I literally moved in times, in floors, imagining how you build-up the white heavy pole attached to the ceiling and how you going to dismantle it.
Could you elaborate about the importance of movement in the action you committed in the space ?
CC : “I’m not sure what you mean.. But I can tell you that, for example when I arrive to the studio in the morning, I don’t know about what I need to do.. Its just the idea to move with the conditions around me, the tables, the wood.. Everything comes from there, the movement is capable to organize a reflection in your brain. Beyond that.. something more important then movement, I’m not sure.. maybe its intuition. More and more I feel with certain actions, its something from all human condition, then its also open to interpretation.. First I work with movement, could became ridiculous, the object you manipulate, the people around it, the context, many factors.. Like ”Open-calls”, I find its stupid, to respond for a certain subject… the context is always there, its about adaptation, and being flexible in your current proper situation...”
NC : I think its also about finding the state of being comfortable, as when you seating on your knees in the raft in the video Radoub.. You have to be comfortable to explore the space around in the water...
CC : Yes, being loose. I ask myself, how to welcome the people, welcome to the threshold ("accueillir au seuil") so they still in the confusion what they have to do… until…
NC : something happened ? An accident of serendipity ?
CC : “Yeah, to be stupid, naive, with no defined destination, its getting evenmore difficult to be amazed and not jaded/burned-out (blasé).. like an animal, to work just with your nose to follow a way..”
NC; So, my last question, its also about sensible sense you work with, related to Breathing, you have a fascination of suffocation or asphyxia, Could you please explain your intention of its transmission to become concrete ?
CC : “Ehm .. In the second video, when I’m my breathing over a wood timber, for me its the “beating heart” of the exhibition, this video in loop of 3 seconds could simply show this complex physiological thing we all have to do… its about expansion and restriction.. and a question of movement too. For me, when you breath, you are on a line, in the middle of a symmetric action.. in-between of being ridiculous stupid, or tragic and from the other hand, being clear and clever. I think about Beckett, you can laugh about yourself, about the world, without the tragic aspect, because then, you cannot move ! Its very important though its impossible being exactly always on this middle, as in breathing, movement from left to right, inside outside…keep being consciousness.. Suddenly a scene came to my mind, as in the end of the film of Fitzcarraldo of Herzog Werner.. when you see Klaus Kinski seating on his broken boat, smiling with a cigar in his mouth, when all his projects failed, the opera in the forest.. Back then I didn’t understood why I loved this image so much… For example in Armature variable (work from 2010), the structure keep falling, the boards of wood are always in motion, maybe it will be never achieved ? “
NC : Its a nice idea to close this interview with.. where is the end or the beginning… Thank you Claude !

Cattelain showing these days also in Montreal, SOULEVEMENTS - Galerie de l'UQAM and will have another monographic exhibition in Brasseurs in Liege in February,

MAAC : Rue des Chartreux, 26-28 - 1000 Bruxelles
La MAAC est une initiative de l’Echevine de l’Instruction Publique, de la Jeunesse, de la Petite enfance et du Personnel de la Ville de Bruxelles.