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Céline Pierre – English

Return to the French original text: Tragen.Hz – French




TRAGEN.Hz – Oratorio Ratures

Céline Pierre


Summary :

1. 1. The Text of the Project as a Whole
2. The Video/Electroacoustic
3. The Images

1. The Text of the Project as a Whole

TRAGEN.Hz – ondes portées – oratorio ratures [carried waves – erasures].
Soundrecordings, videos, conception and composition : Celine Pierre.

Through a subject pertaining to the current events and European history, a creation which emerges from a collection of images, sounds and texts from the Calais migrant camp. The work carried out at the Reims Regional Conservatory and Centre National de Création Musicale Césaré [1] gave rise to a series of electroacoustic and video pieces, mix-media pieces and performances for pluri-disciplinary sites and scenes.

“At a time when the world is being ever more de-realized by the spectacle of its own display, at a time when ‘the world is gone’, there are something singular that in Calais has been experienced by all those who came to meet the migrants; there, with those who are out of any home, is given to share something real. Through the voice, that of migrants, of reading and singing, the project tries to say a little – what’s left – about this.” (Lp for Tragen.Hz)

“TRAGEN.HZ – ondes portées – oratorio ratures” for multiple performances: “HZ” symbolizes the Hertzian waves. “TRAGEN” means to carry in German. The title could therefore be translated as “waves carried”. “HZ” could be the acronym for “Hertz”, the heart in German. As Paul Celan wrote: “Die Welt ist fort ich muss dich tragen”. The world is gone I must carry it. “Oratorio ratures”: in the subtitle, one word taken from the sound register, another from the visible – the erasure as a hiatus, an opening through which images and sounds can respond to each other. An option and a sharing of the sensitive inseparably poetic and political.

Writing the project calls for sequence shots of the Calais camp recorded during its dismantling, fires, earth and burnt grounds; and a corpus of sound sequences linked by the scream: screams and stridencies of the stringed instrument, screams stemming from the tradition of mourning songs and lyrical singing, a scream that carries what remains silent and is erased in all writing, that calls for voices, carries them from complaint to lament, even to consolation. All of these constituents provoke a suspension of time and space, in which resound convocations, evocations and disappearance of anonymous voices. An evocation in the tradition of the oratorio, which through one of its origins, the « lauda »- a monodic hymn written in the thirteenth century by penitents who walked through devastated lands – is part of this long history of migration and war. Path, sand, soil and ashes, everything lightly touches in a situation of erasure where the voice seeks to make its way and where time stretches in the direction of the poem:

“Poems thus move also along the pathways, they set a course, where to? Onto something that is open, available, in which you have someone to talk to, a reality to talk to” writes Paul Celan. (Lp for Tragen.Hz)

A production of LES SEPTANTES/laboratory of multiple writings.
The project is realized at he Laboratoire de Composition of the CRR-Reims [Composition Laboratory of the Reims Regional Conservatory] and in residency at the Centre National de Création Musicale Césaré-Reims; the projet is supported by “Help to Création & Diffusion Visual Arts” of the Region “Grand Est” and by “Help to Music Project” at the DRAC “Grand Est”.


2. The Video/Electroacoustic

Presentation of the video:

TRAGEN.HZ – oratorio ratures [erasures]:
Voice and video sequences recorded in a refugee camp on the French-English border and sequences of screams, alterations and instrumental and vocal iterations recorded in studio. Whole entity that expresses what is silent and erased in all writing, which, from complaint to lament, summons the voices and provokes a suspension of time and space in which convocations, evocations, and disappearance of anonymous voices resound.

Conception, collected material, and visual and sound composition: Celine Pierre. Voices: Thierry Machuel, Caroline Chassagny and voices recorded on the camp of Calais. Viola, Elodie Gaudet. Viola da gamba, Louis Michel Marion.

A series of visual and sound studies also exists:

Voice/Mixt-violin. code TRAGEN.HZ

Based on a lyrical singing improvisation, ERASURE is the instrumental and vocal opening of the project. Sections of screeching sequences alternate, wear down and alter the envelope of voices like those who tried to cross the barbed wire border known as “razor blades” that borders the entrance to the railroad tracks of the Channel Tunnel. ERASURE, the English word at the limit of the French whispers the razor edge and the scratch on the map.


Viola/Baroque bow.
With displacement of the instrumentalist on the stage. code TRAGEN.HZ

Bordered by an expressway, a dried-out land of overexposed sand, trodden by the suspended footsteps of waiting men. A wandering and slowed down walk, in a situation of being crushed on a ground to be crossed. From  bow’s pulsations iterative sounds,  to the hindrance of waiting, the harmonics pierce, draw, sharpen or sign the wind’s environment.


Viola da gamba/Theorbo/Fieldrecording code TRAGEN.HZ

A hole made of images where a void sizzles. A swarm of pixel dust, the “under-ex” falling scrap image… The effigy or the stele of a woman from behind and the pulsations  extricated from the theorbo turn the acoustic space upside down in order to convey the fire at night.


SO LONG 03:10
Viola da gamba/Theorbo/Fieldrecording code TRAGEN.HZ

The image’s flickering, its sizzling, tips over into a kind of hoarse voice; the hail, the grail of the viola da gamba mingles with the inflections and complexions of the voice of a young teenager coming out of his shelter.


3. The Images

Series of images extracted from the visual and sound study of SYNAPTé:

SYNAPTé 2305e

SYNAPTé (07:40):
Based on a vocal improvisation inspired by mourning songs and notations of ancient tragedies – synapté – meaning litany in ancient Greek,  this video/visual and sound study of the project TRAGEN.HZ serves as a kind of matrix. The voice, rough, a moan, stretches and is diffracted: the dismantling of life communities in the camp. Voice as if withdrawn from the precarious living conditions of burnt wood, lonely, it raises in a bit of hot ashes what remains of waiting in passing silhouettes. Moaning of the oracle, lament in search of consolation, primal and altered voice, voice of the evidence that erases and recollects and restores these images as a witness of this long history of migration and war.

SYNAPTé 2305i

SYNAPTé 2305oSYNAPTé 2305k

1. See the Reims CRR: conservatoire-a-rayonnement-regional-de-reims and Césaré – Centre national de création musicale :




CELINE PIERRE : Artistic producer with degrees from CRR-Reims in electroacoustics and ENSBA-Paris in multimedia and performance, she realizes site-specific projects with participation of the population, projection environments, radio plays, film-essays and oratorio videos.
With the project TRAGEN.HZ, she produces, from collected material from a refugee camp, a work of visual & sound writing intended for multidisciplinary sites and scenes.

Celine Pierre.
06 13 64 16 28

Christoph Irmer

Accéder à la traduction en français :



We are all strangers to ourselves

Christoph Irmer (2019)


For an improvisation musician like Peter Kowald[1] it was still natural in an argumentation to see oneself in the first position and later on to postulate the opening to the unknown: “And if we look at our world, our world view today (…), then it is certainly very important that we learn to respond to something – humble, so to speak – which may seem strange to us at the moment. Of course you also lose something. Standards that you got used to, that you unserstood, do not work anymore. And perhaps friction with something foreign will make something new happen, and that, of course, is the big chance that the foreigner offers.”[2] Around 1990, Kowald saw in a foreigner or stranger more than just an enrichment of his musical expression. He talked about friction (“Reibung”) to create sound. But he did not see that the stranger in the first place constitutes the core of openness, the fleeting and the amazing of improvisation. He could have found out that the stranger shocks against us rather than it lies in our power and freedom of choice to perform the role “friction with something foreign” sovereignly and confidently.

In the same time, in the late 1980s, a book was widely discussed that dealt in a similar way with the theme of the stranger / the other: Strangers to Ourselves[3] by Julia Kristeva. The author writes that the stranger is neither “the apocalypse on the move nor the instant adversary to be eliminated for the sake of appeasing the group”, but: “Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden face of our identity, the space that wrecks our abode, the time in which understanding and affinity founder. By recognizing him within ourselves we are spared detesting him in himself”(p. 1). Without being able to undo these modes of alienation – even without a chance to ever dissolve the strangeness – Kristeva suggests to become friend with the stranger: “The foreigner´s friends, aside from bleeding hearts who feel obliged to do good, could only be those who feel foreign to themselves.” (p. 23). What comes our way Kristeva calls a “paradoxical community”: “made up of foreigners, who are reconciled with themselves to the extent that they recognize themselves as foreigners.” (p. 195)

Kristeva raises the question of the paradoxical community that concerns the community of alienated spirits. It has nothing in common with an ideality of communist or bourgeois ideas of identity. Instead, the future community within is supported by bodily-physical differences that are invisible and unpredictable (improvisational), co-existent and constellative, vulnerable and complicated. “It is not simply – humanistically – a matter of our being able to accept the other, but of being in his place, and that means to imagine and make oneself other for oneself.” (p. 13) Although in this postulate, the illusory idea that one can fill the gap with the stranger by somehow trying to be “able to live with the others, to live as others” (p. 2) and to say: “If I am a foreigner, there are no foreigners” (p. 192) – Kristeva updates Freud’s notion of the “uncanny” and challenges us “to call ourselves disintegrated, in order not to integrate foreigners and even less so to hunt them down, but rather welcome them to that uncanny strangeness, which is as much theirs as it is ours.” (p. 192)

In the 90s of the 20th century begins the great review: what has changed, what has been achieved? The political system that called itself communist has dissolved. The so-called “Free West” is celebrating as winner – what follows: wars in the Balkans, genocide in Rwanda and elsewhere. Julia Kristeva was right: we need to think about community. At the end of the 80s, Peter Kowald launches a project band called “Global Village”, a group in which he regularly integrates non-European musicians. His home town is still Wuppertal; his second residence is in New York. Traveling fever plagues him and he likes to return home: homesick for his house, for the street he lives in and where his neighbors are living. Strange disjointedness: On the one hand the double bass on his back, he is traveling through Japan, America, Greece, Switzerland and Tuva (Siberia), Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Italy. He gives workshops, meets musicians everywhere. A famous CD recording will be the “Duos Europe / America / Japan” (FMP 1991), duos which happened between 1984 and 1990. On the other hand, he remains anchored in his “village”, is involved in citizens’ initiatives, in cooperation with the local dance scene, especially with Pina Bausch.

Kowald seeks the foreigner nearby as well as in the distance, one after another, somehow simultaneously. In the mid-1990s he remains in Wuppertal for one year, the project is called “365 days in town”. He moves no further away than at a bicycle ride away from home, working and playing with artists from various disciplines, they come along for a visit. He plays for friends and residents from his neighborhood. Finally, a documentary is produced in which his impressive artistic and musical, ecological and social commitment is captured. But then Kowald had to head back to the world and sees himself again as globetrotter, a wanderer through countries and cultures. Looking back on the 60s and 70s, free jazz does not fare well in every way. From the encounters with Peter Brötzmann remain legendary recordings such as “For Adolphe Sax” (with Brötzmann and Sven-Ake Johansson) and “Machine Gun” (1968), but no friendship at all. Too different are the paths that everyone follows in the 90s. Today, the utopian designs of the period after 1968 are finally a matter of the past. But at the end of the twentieth century, no new political paradigm emerged – except the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion caused by brutal neo liberalism and its excesses until the 2008 financial crisis. But Kowald had already passed away….

Peter Kowald would have turned 75 this year (2019). Seventeen years after his death, other constellations of alienation appear today that make the type of globetrotters a romantic wanderer. Maybe this would not have been easy for Kowald to experience. The paradoxical relationship between affiliation and non-affiliation in society plays into our modern attitudes of life in the early 21st century: right down to a disintegration of the public rather than its strengthening. Previous ideals of collective forms of living together are going to get dissolved; we live in the age of political and social distraction. Julia Kristeva knew something of what is going on politically and culturally today – more than Kowald. Otherness today means an alienation that brings with it a sense of non-affiliation to each of us – in this globalized world, we do not become brothers or sisters, nor immediate opponents or enemies. In improvisation, whether in everyday life or in the arts we try to get an idea of ​​what we could call a political disaster. We are just at the very beginning of understanding our new world in an improvisational way: as a paradoxical community – and to learn how to live together in an improvisational mode in future.

(June, 26th, 2019)



1. The German double bass player Peter Kowald (1944 – 2002) was one of the main representatives of free improvised music. He started playing with Peter Brötzmann in Wuppertal in the mid-sixties and later became co-founder of the label FMP together with Alexander von Schlippenbach, Jost Gebers and Detlef Schönenberg.

2. Quoted after Noglik, Bernd, in: Fähndrich, Walter: Improvisation V, Winterthur 2003, p. 170f.

3. Kristeva, Julia: Strangers to Ourselves (1988), Columbia University Press, Publisher: Harvester Wheatsheaf, Hertfordshire / England 1991.

Praxis (English version)

Return to the French text

For an

Today political discourse articulates between the opposing concepts of poiêsis, which refers to the production of an object or a work, and praxis, which entails an action with no other purpose than itself.
According to H. Arendt, modernism is dominated by the created work or object, particularly through an infinite manufacturing of items and tools, where the concealed processes of elaboration are considered a means to an end, the final product taking precedence:

The implements and tools of homo faber, from which the most fundamental experience of instrumentality arises, determine all work and fabrication. Here it is indeed true that the end justifies the means; it does more, it produces and organizes them. (…) During the work process, everything is judged in terms of suitability and usefulness for the desired end, and for nothing else.1

Meanwhile, all practices today have, in one way or another, to confront forms of storage of information provided by electronic technologies, which come to subtly change everything: recordings, disks, electronic memory… the fixity of electronic storage of information has the tendency to create a general reification of both works written on scores and ritualized actions fixed in the collective memory of the participants. A recording definitively fixes a particular moment, but in this very process of solidification of real life, less now than ever before may it pretend to represent the authentic tradition: at a certain moment certain individuals have done this, it is just one example among others of a type of practice. Moreover, the digitalization of memory allows very easily to pirate them and to modify them for one’s own benefit. Recordings fix real events, but they are precarious in their virtuality. In order to escape commoditization, there is no other choice than to use some cunning in making sure that each event would not be the simple exact repetition of a preceding version.

However these technologies also seriously undermine the claim to the exclusivity of traditions and, hence, their aura. They favor the differentiation of practices in all fields, and therefore return to the forefront the processing and collective nature of the praxis.

For Hannah Arendt, the term praxis is replaced by “action” most often related to “speech”. For her, the condition of the action depends upon a cooperative of at once equal and different human beings. In this sense, action and speech characterize political action in its highest form: acting together whilst recognizing our differences:

Action, as distinguished from fabrication, is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act.2

H. Arendt compares the Greek and Roman systems of political interaction. In ancient Greece the laws have the function to allow the subsequent actions of the citizens, “not Athens, but the Athenians, were the polis. »3.

Modern society, more influenced by Rome than by Athens, has completely degraded action. And Arendt notes:

It was precisely these occupations – healing, flute-playing, play-acting – which furnished ancient thinking with examples for the highest and greatest activities of man.4

Rehabilitation of the praxis in the era of electronic globality returns the flutist to his place as actor of his own practice,5 , at play with the irresolute relations with others, the ephemeral character of actions, and unpredictable outcomes.6

Jean-Charles François – 2015

Translation by the author and Nancy François

1. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago, London : The University of Chicago Press, 1958, p. 153. Even though few references are made by the author to the terms poiêsis and praxis, her exposition, supporting three essential elements of the human condition, namely of work, created works and action, provides important keys to the understanding of what is at play in today’s world.

2. Hannah Arendt, op. cit., chapter V, « Action », p. 188.

3. Ibid., p.195.

4. Ibid., p.207.

5. See Marc’O, Théâtralité et Musique, Paris : Association S.T.A.R., 1994: “We have stated that, in a broad sense, the word actor relates more to a produced activity than to a social status (an identity). Ideally, the actor, author of his actions, is an author who verifies and acts. Through his actions, whether it be on the scene of work, social, family or otherwise – he tries to understand what he is lacking. Only action can bring him to understand this lack. And it is that upon which life is founded which he is lacking. All that he needs is to have aims in life and so fix goals. In this way he has a destiny, he contributes to cultural development. He makes history.” (page 86)

6. See Jean-Charles François, “Le Bèlè Martiniquais face aux héritiers de l’art autonome”, Les Périphériques vous parlent, N°36 Web, Paris, 2012. The practice of dance, poetry and traditional Bèlè music in Martinique is a living example of the idea of Praxis as it is defined in this text.


 For an itinerary-song towards…