Archives du mot-clé wandering

Edges, Fringes, Margins

Retour au texte original en français : Lisières



Edges – Fringes – Margins



On April 26, 2019 a meeting took place in Lyon between György Kurtag (composer and improvisator visiting from Bordeaux), Yves Favier (then technical director at ENSATT in Lyon), and the members of the PaaLabRes collective, Jean-Charles François, Gilles Laval and Nicolas Sidoroff. The format of this meeting was to alternate moments of musical improvisation with discussions about the different participants’ backgrounds.

Following this meeting, we decided to develop a kind of “cadavre exquis” [game of consequences] around the concept of “edges”, each of the participants writing more or less fragmented texts in reaction to the writings that were accumulating little by little. In addition, the five people were also allowed to propose quotations from various authors in connection with this idea of edges, fringes or margins. It is this process that gave rise in the Grand Collage (the river) of this edition “Faire tomber les murs” to 10 collages (L.1 – L.10) of these texts accompanied by music, recorded voices and images, with in particular extracts from the recording of our improvisations made during the meeting of April 26, 2019. You will find below all the texts.


Direct access to the texts of the authors included in the collage:

Définitions 1               Définitions 2               Définitions 3
Aleks A. Dupraz 1                             Aleks A. Dupraz 2
Yves Favier 1    Yves Favier 2   Yves Favier 3   Yves Favier 4   Yves Favier 5
Gustave Flaubert
Jean-Charles François 1      Jean-Charles François 2      Jean-Charles François 3
Edouard Glissant 1    Edouard Glissant 2    Edouard Glissant 3    Edouard Glissant 4
Emmanuel Hocquard 1                  Emmanuel Hocquard 2
Tom Ingold 1                                                                                   Tom Ingold 2
György Kurtag 1     György Kurtag 2
François Laplantine et Alexis Nouss 1                     François Laplantine et Alexis Nouss 2
Gilles Laval
Michel Lebreton 1                                  Michel Lebreton 2
Jean-Luc Nancy
Nicolas Sidoroff 1     Nicolas Sidoroff 2      Nicolas Sidoroff 3     Nicolas Sidoroff 4
Dominique Sorrente



Emmanuel Hocquard :

The edge is a strip, a list, a margin (not a line) between two milieus of different nature, which have something of the nature of two entities without being confused with any of them. The edge has its own life, its autonomy, its specificity, its fauna, flora, etc. The edge of a forest, the fringe between sea and land (estran), a hedge, etc.

dans la cour       platanes cinq

 dans la cour                          platanes cinq

dans la cour                 platanes cinq

(Le cours de Pise, Paris : P.O.L., 2018, p. 61)


Yves Favier :

Evidently the notion of “Edge” or “Fringe” is the one that tickles the most (the best?) especially when it is determined as an « autonomous zone between 2 territories », moving and indeterminate musical zones, yet identifiable.
They are not for me “no man’s (women’s) land”, but rather transition zones between two (or more) environments…
In ecology, these singular zones are called “ecotones”, zones that shelter both species and communities of the different environments that border them, but also particular communities that are specific to them. (Here we touch on two concepts: Guattari’s “Ecosophy”, where everything holds together, and Deleuze’s “Hecceity = Event.”


Définitions : Lisières – subst. fém.

Étymol. et Hist. 1. 1244 « bord qui limite de chaque côté d’une pièce d’étoffe » (Doc. ds Fagniez t. 1, p. 151); 2. a) 1521 « frontière d’un pays » (Doc. ds Papiers d’État de Granvelle, t. 1, p. 185); b) 1606 « bord d’un terrain » (Nicot); c) 1767-68 fig. « ce qui est à la limite de quelque chose » (Diderot, Salon de 1767, p. 195); 3. a) 1680 « bandes attachées au vêtement d’un enfant pour le soutenir quand il commence à marcher » (Rich.); b) 1752 mener (qqn) par la lisière « conduire (quelqu’un) comme on mène un enfant » (Trév.); c) 1798 mener (qqn) en lisière « exercer une tutelle sur (quelqu’un) » (Ac.); 1829 tenir en lisière « id. » (M. de Guérin, loc. cit.); 4. 1830 chaussons de lisière (La Mode, janv. ds Quem. DDL t. 16). Orig. incertaine. Peut-être dér. de l’a. b. frq. *lisa « ornière », que l’on suppose d’apr. le lituanien lysẽ « plate-bande (d’un jardin) » et l’a. prussien lyso « id. (d’un champ) ». Cette forme *lisa a dû exister à côté de l’a. b. frq. *laiso, de la même famille que l’all. Gleis, Geleise « voie ferrée, ornière »; cf. a. h. all. waganleisa « ornière »; cf. aussi le norm. alise « ornière »; alisée « id. » (v. REW et FEW t. 16, p. 468b). L’hyp. du FEW t. 5, pp. 313b-314a, qui dérive lisière du subst. masc. lis (du lat. licium « lisière d’étoffe »), est peu probable, ce dernier étant plus récent que lisière (1380, « grosses dents aux extrémités d’un peigne de tisserand », Ordonnances des rois de France, t. 6, p. 473, v. aussi note b; puis, au xviiies., au sens de « lisière d’une étoffe », v. FEW t. 5, p. 312b).



György Kurtag:

[He quotes here Pr. André Haynal, psychiatrist, psychanalyst, emeritus professor at Genève University, concerning the book by Daniel N. Stern, Le moment présent en psychothérapie : un monde dans un grain de sable, Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob, 2003.]

“More spectacular is the emergence of ‘urgent moments’ that produce ‘moments of encounter’.

Stern emphasizes experience and not meaning, although the latter, and thus the dimension of language, plays an important role. For him, present moments occur in parallel with the language exchange during the séance. The two reinforce and influence each other in turn. The importance of language and explicitness is therefore not called into question, although Stern wants to focus on direct and implicit experience.”


Yves Favier:

These edges between meadow, lake and forest are home to prairie species that prefer darker and cooler environments, others more aquatic ones, and forest species that prefer light and warmth.

Isn’t this the case in improvisation?…


Aleks Dupraz:

In my writings, the notion of “edge” or “fringe” is gradually replacing that of “margin”, which is very much used by sociology and is frequent in the alternative spheres of art and politics. Even though we know that “the margin” is always in interaction – if only in the imaginary – with its opposite (the center where the centrifugal force of norms may seem at its highest level, which seems debatable insofar as the proximity of power places also confers a certain freedom as to the application, alteration and production of norms), the notion of “edge” carries within it the possibility of another displacement that is no longer simply that of the relationship between “a center” and “its periphery”. Being on the edge of the University is already being on the frontier of other worlds, and perhaps this opens up possibilities for me to think about my life experience and my approach differently than through the sole prism of the tension at work in a process of identity construction that would relate mainly to the university institution and its norms.
experiencespoetiques | lisière(s)


François Laplantine and Alexis Nouss:

The thought of the between and the in-between is linked to crossbreeding, because attention to the interstice makes us realize that we cannot be both at the same time but alternatively, as in Frenando Pessoa’s heteronymic process or as in the steps of the tango. (…) The in-between is what we cannot place border to border or put end-to-end and which prevents us from following the groove. It is a gap that cannot be filled, or at least cannot be filled immediately, but which calls for mediations that, as with Adorno, should be opposed to reconciliation and also to the notion of work of art insofar as the latter claims to reach a completion.
Métissages, de Arcimboldo à Zombi. Montréal, Pauvert, 2001.


Michel Lebreton:

The edges are the places of what is possible. Their limits are only defined by the environments bordering them. They are shifting, subject to erosion and sedimentation: there is nothing obvious about them.
(See in the present edition the « house » of M. Lebreton).



Yves Favier :

1/ Would the improviser be this particular “being on the alert”?
Hunter/gatherer always ready to collect (capture?) existing SOUNDS, but also “herder”, in order to let those “immanent” ones emerge? Not yet manifest but already “possible in in the making”?…

2/ “the territory is only valid in relation to a movement by which one leaves it.” In the case of the notion of Hocquard’s Border associated with the Classical political conception, the improviser would be a transmitter between 2 territories determined in advance to be academic by convention: a transmitter between THE contemporary (sacred art) music and THE spontaneous (social prosaic) music…we’ll say that it’s a good start, but which will have no development other than in and through conventions…it will always be a line that separates, it’s an “abstraction” from which concrete bodies (including the public) are de facto excluded.

3/ What (musical) LINE, could mark as Limit, an “extremity” (also abstract) to a music so-called “free” only to be considered from the inside (supposedly from the inside of the improviser).
Effectively taking away any possibility of breaking out of these identity limits (“improvisation is this and no other thing”, “leave Improvisation to the improvisers”) comes from the fantasy of the creative origins and its isolated « geniuses ». … for me the « no man’s land » suggested by Hocquard can be found here!


Nicolas Sidoroff :

Emmanuel Hocquard distinguishes three conceptions of translation with regard to the limit (the “reactionary conception” where translation can only betray), to the border (the “classical conception” where translation passes from one language and culture to another), and to the edge (a conception that “makes translation […] a hedge between the fields of literature”).
(Emmanuel Hocquart, Ma haie : Un privé à Tanger II, Paris : P.O.L., 2001, pp. 525-526.)

I work on the notions of “border” and “edge” between different activities. (…) A border is crossed in the thick and consistent sense of the term, one part of the body then the other, more or less gradually. This body has a thickness, we are on one side and on the other of a line or a surface which constitutes a border at a given moment. This can create a swing, such as back and forth movements in body weight above that line or on either side of a line or surface which constitutes a border at a given moment. How do you cross a border between several activities: what happens when I change “caps,” for example, between a space-time where I am a composer and another where I am a sound engineer?
(Nicolas Sidoroff, « Faire quelque chose avec ça que je voudrais tant penser, faisons quelque chose avec ça, de ci, de là », Agencements N°1, mai 2018, Éditions du commun, p. 50)


Dominique Sorrente :

For a long time, I’ve lived on the edge of the world.



From one edge to the other, our movements form a song of echoes, a forest of signs in the sky.

Ecological corridor :

An ecological corridor [corridor], as distinct from a biological corridor [corridor biologique] and from the ecological continuum [continuum écologique]], is a functional passage zone, for a group of species belonging to the same milieu [espèces inféodées] ], between several natural spaces. This corridor thus connects different populations and favors the dissemination and migration of species, as well as the recolonization of disturbed environments.

For example, a footbridge [passerelle] that overlooks a highway and connects two forest massifs constitutes an ecological corridor. It allows fauna [faune] and flora to circulate between the two massifs despite the almost impermeable obstacle represented by the highway. This is why this footbridge is called a wildlife passage.

Ecological corridors are an essential component of biodiversity conservation [biodiversité] and ecosystem functioning [écosystèmes]. Without their connectivity, a very large number of species would not have all the habitats necessary for their life cycles (reproduction, growth, refuge, etc.) and would be condemned to extinction in the near future.

Moreover, exchanges between environments are a major factor of resilience [résilience]. They allow a damaged environment (fire, flooding, etc.) to be quickly recolonized by species from the surrounding environment.

Taken as a whole, the ecological corridors and the environments they connect form an ecological continuum for this type of environment and the species that depend on it.

It is for these reasons that current biodiversity conservation strategies emphasize exchanges between environments and no longer focus solely on the creation of sanctuaries that are preserved but closed and isolated.


Michel Lebreton :

Will the teacher leave the barriers open to wandering and tinkering? Or will he confine all practices to the enclosure he has built over time?


Edouard Glissant :

(…) where the migrant people from Europe (…) arrive [in America] with their songs, their family traditions, their tools, the image of their god, etc., the Africans arrive stripped of everything, of all possibilities, and even stripped of their language. For the den of the slave ship is the place and the time when African languages disappear, because people who spoke the same language were never put together in the slave ship, just like on the plantations. The beings were stripped of all sorts of elements of their daily life, and especially of their language.
(Introduction à une poétique du divers, Paris : Gallimard, 1996, p . 16)


Emmanuel Hocquard :

Everything that concerns margins (marginalia), crossroads, residual spaces or wastelands is to be attached to the edges…
The edges are the only spaces that escape the rules set by the State grammarians, the Versailles gardeners and international town planners.
(Op. cit. p. 62)


Edouard Glissant :

What happens to this migrant? He recomposes by traces a language and arts that could be said to be valid for everyone. (…) The deported African has not had the opportunity to maintain these kinds of punctual legacies. But he did something unpredictable on the basis of the only powers of memory, that is, of the only thoughts of the trace that were left to him: he composed, on the one hand, Creole languages and, on the other hand, art forms that were valid for all. (…) If this Neo-American does not sing African songs from two or three centuries ago, he is re-establishing in the Caribbean, Brazil and North America, through the thought of the trace, the art forms that he proposes as valid for all. The thought of the trace seems to me to be a new dimension of what must be opposed in the current situation of the world to what I call the thoughts of the system or systems of thought. The thoughts of the system or systems of thought were prodigiously fruitful and prodigiously conquering and prodigiously deadly. The thought of the trace is the most valid today to affix to the false universality of the thoughts of the system.
(Op. cit., p.17)


Jean-Charles François :

The wonderful “lisières” [edges, fringes, margins], the wonderful “lisières”, the wonderful “lisières”
The wonderful “lisières”, the wonderful “lisières” and… the nasty “lisier” [manure].
The wonderful “lisières” and the nasty “lisier”
The rebel “lisières” and in the middle of the field the “lisier”.
The “lisières”, the “lisières”, the “lisier”.
The beautiful “lisières” and the nasty “lisier”.
The “lisier” responsible for the beautiful green algae of northern Finistère [in Brittany], which decompose into nasty toxic elements dangerous to humans.
The beautiful “lisières” and the nasty “lisier”.
The mystery of the “lisières”, the great misery of the “lisier”.
The feast of the merry leeways, the feat of the mingled leaflets.
The flux of the winding river, the fever of the weak-link leaser.
The severe inklings of the pollster, the never-ending undulating of the roller-coaster.
The folly of the spending waist and the olive-green of peace on earth.
The beautiful “lisières” and the nasty “lisier”.
The “lisier” is used to define the nasty space of artichokes, between the beautiful “lisières” as nasty result of a beautiful industrial production and nasty ferment of a production of the same kind of beauty.

Being on the alert, entre-capture, being on advert, entre-rapture, being that asserts, prey that lets itself be captured, being-aggressor, enter raptors we get along well, being-a-Grecian, Kairos, intense moment of interaction, being-a-gracious…
The “lisier” is a nasty nose aggressor, while the polished “lisière” agrees to read the parking meters.
The perking masters of the church of the Most Holy Therese of Lisière get bogged down in agreeing with the prosaic Guest-State-Police-Lisier.
The Eldorado of the beautiful Gluierphosate grid fills clysteres in the back pockets of filthy sires linked to their glycemic-prostatic swellings.
The beautiful “lisières” and the nasty “lisier”.
How to get out of the “lisières” and into the space of the “lisier”?
This seems to be the problem of improvisation. The ideal of communication belongs to the “lisières”, the edges, but the content itself remains in the incommunicability of the “lisier”, the slurry (apart from its stench). If the definition of the origin of the sounds at the time of the improvised performance on stage seems to belong to the domain of the unspoken, because it is strictly relevant to the intimacy of each participant, then only the « lisières », the edges of human interactivity, seem to be able to enter the field of reflection. The planning of the sounds, their effective elaboration, appears then to be the exclusive domain of the individual paths. The collective elaboration of the sounds is left to the surprise of the moment of the encounter of personalities who have prepared themselves for it: come what may. Getting stuck in the “lisier” (liquid manure).

However, this is not to say that the “lisières” (edges) of communication between humans do not play an important role in the reflection. In this sense, the question of being on the alert and the meanders of the unconscious /conscious are essential vectors to be taken into consideration. But if improvisation is a collective game, then the elaboration of sounds by individuals on separate paths is no longer sufficient to reflect the collective elaboration of sounds. The problem of the co-construction of sound materials then arises. This is where we fall into the “lisier”. If one prepares the sounds collectively, there is a strong risk of no longer being in the ideal of improvisation, which democratically leaves voices free to express themselves, which accepts the principle – in principle! – of dissension in its midst. But if all those who belong to the club of improvisers have followed the same path before getting on stage, then democracy and dissension on the stage are nothing but a simulacrum, the effects of a theater for a naive audience. Likewise, if those who do not correspond to the idealized sound models of the network are not invited, the agreement among those who are will be almost total. Is the notion of deterritorialization a matter for individuals who meet on neutral ground, or is it the collective elaboration of an unknown terrain? The list of elements of the “lisier” is long. How can we open up this type of research project, both from the point of view of practice and of reflecting on practice?


Nicolas Sidoroff :

Emmanuel describes the edge as: “white stain” [tache blanche]. For a long time, I understood and made him say “white task” [tâche blanche]. The circumflex accent made a lot of sense, evoking both the work to be done (by the task) and a space to be explored characterized by its situation (by the slightly nominalized adjective “white”). Behind this, I understood and still understand, an invitation to come and inhabit, explore and practice such spaces. It evokes the unexplored places of geographical maps, where one could not yet know what to write nor in what colors. The “white stain” is very present in the work of Emmanuel Hocquard. The “white stain translation” for him, a “white stain activity” for me, is to create “unexplored areas (…), it’s gaining ground”. In my vocabulary habits, I would also say: to create the possible.
(« Explorer les lisières d’activité, vers une microsociologie des pratiques (musicales) », Agencements N°2, décembre 2018, Édition du commun, p. 263-264)


François Laplantine et Alexis Nouss :

The zombie or the borderline example of crossbreeding. Both dead and alive, it alone condenses the irreducible and unthinkable paradox of every being. The zombie will never be fully alive, or totally dead. As if the journey of the living to death and the return of the dead to life irretrievably prevented a return to a primary condition. Impossible and vacillating journey, which prohibits any possibility of returning to a point of departure, to a stabilized and recognized identity of social being or moribund being.
(Op. cit.)


Edouard Glissant :

For a very long time, Western wandering – it must always be repeated – for a very long time Western wandering, which has been a wandering of conquests; a wandering of founding territories, has contributed to the realization of what we can call today the “totality-world”. But in today’s space there are more and more internal wanderings, that is to say, more and more projections towards the totality-world and returns to oneself while one is immobile, while one has not moved from one’s place, these forms of wandering often trigger what we call internal exile, that is to say, moments when the imagination or sensitivity are cut off from what’s going on around. (…) And this is one of the givens of chaos-world, that assent to one’s “surroundings” or suffering in one’s “surroundings” are also operative as a way and means of knowing one’s “surroundings”.
(op. cit., p. 88)


Lisière, subst. fém. :

All the dreams had risen, abandoned to their free flight. Servet recounted his impending joy of coming out of the edges. (Estaunié 1896)

I’ll get up at noon: I’ll have cozy mornings in bed. No more studying, no more homework. (Estaunié 1896)

God! I will always have to be pushed and I will always have to be held on the edge and I will languish in eternal childhood. (M. de Guérin, 1829)


Edouard Glissant :

To oversimplify: crossbreeding would be the determinism, and creolization is, in relation to crossbreeding, the producer of the unpredictable. Creolization, it’s the unpredictable. We can predict or determine the crossbreeding, but we cannot predict or determine creolization. The same thinking of ambiguity, which specialists in the chaos sciences point out, at the very basis of their discipline, this same thinking of ambiguity now governs the imaginary of chaos-world and the imaginary of Relationship.
(Ibid. p. 89)


Nicolas Sidoroff :

The expression “edge nucleus” therefore allows, first of all, to radically evacuate representations in rigid boxes with borders or in limiting and excluding boxes. (…) To view musical practices as the interaction and articulation of six “edge nucleus”, each corresponding to a family of activities: creation, performance, mediation-education, research, administration, techniques-instrument making.
(op. cit., p. 265)



Yves Favier :

The notion of “edge” or “fringe” is the one that titillates (best): moving and indetermined yet identifiable musical zones.

Sons Pliés Boltanski

Sons-pliés Boltanski

Gilles Laval :

Is there an improvised present, at instantaneous instant T? What are its edges, from the instant to be born or not born, or not-being, the instantaneous not frozen at the instant, right there, hop it’s over! Were you present yesterday at this precise shared but short-lived instant? I don’t want to know, I prefer to do it, with no return, towards the commissures of the senses.

Is improvisation self-deluding? Without other others is it possible/impossible? What target, if target there is?

Instantaneous stinging interpenetrations and projections, agglutinating morphological introspective replicas, turbulent scarlet distant junctions, easy or silly combinations, sharp synchronic, diachronic reactions, skillful oxymoristic fusions and confusions. If blue is the place of the sea, out of the water, it is measured in green, on the edge it is like a rainbow. Superb mass of elusive waves where inside shine and abound edges of gradations, departures with no return, unclear stops, blushing pink blurs, who knows whether to silence, to sight land or say here yes hearsay.

I’ve yes heard the hallali sensitive to the edges of improbreezation, (sometimes gurus with angry desires of grips tumble in slow scales (choose your slope), when others sparkle with unpredictable happy and overexcited surprises). End-to-end, let us invite ourselves to the kairostic heuristic commissures of imagined spaces and meanders, alone or with others, to moredames [pludames], to moreofall [plutoustes].

“commissure: (…) The majority of 19th century and 20th century dictionaries also record the aged use of the term in music to mean: Chord, a harmonic union of sounds where a dissonance is placed between two consonants (DG).”

“The end-to-end principle is a design framework in computer networking.
In networks designed according to this principle, application-specific features reside in the communicating end nodes of the network, rather than in intermediary nodes, such as gateways and routers, that exist to establish the network. In this way, the complexity and intelligence of the network is pushed to its edges.”
(End-to-end principle, Wikipedia)

“Kairos (Ancient Greek: καιρός) is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment.[1] The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos (χρόνος) and kairos. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, while the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action.” (Kairos, wipikedia)

Kairos is the god of opportune occasion, of right time, as opposed to Chronos who is the god of time.


brouillard bleu abstrait morceaux blancs


Jean-Charles François :

The “lisières” (edges) make you dream,
melt into white tears
the mythology of the white stain
is that all the maps are colored
no more of them to make us dream


Yves Favier :

…fluctuating moving data…leaving at no time the possibility of describing a stable/definitive situation…
temporary…valid only momentarily…on the nerve…
to touch the nerve is to touch the edge, the fringe, the margin…
improvisation as rapture…temporal kidnapping…
…where one is no longer quite yourself and finally oneself…
…testing time by gesture combined with form…and vice versa…
the irrational at the edge of well-reasoned frequency physics…
…well-tempered…nothing magical…just a fringe, an edge, reached by nerves…
ecotone…tension BETWEEN…
…between certainties…
…between existing and pre-existing…
immanent attractor…
…between silence and what is possible in the making…
this force that hits the nerve…
…that disturbs silence?…
…the edge, the fringe, the margin as a perpetually moving continuity…

The inclusion of each milieu in the other
Not directly connected to each other
Changing its ecological properties
Very common of milieux interpenetration
Termite mound
A place where one changes one’s environment
For its own benefice and for that of other species
What narrative does the edge convey?…



György Kurtag :

[Quote from Pr. André Haynal :]
“In his new book (Daniel N. Stern, Le moment présent en psychothérapie : un monde dans un grain de sable, Paris : Editions Odile Jacob, 2003), Stern talks, as a psychotherapist and observer of daily life, about what he calls the ‘present moment’, what could also be called the blissful moment, during which, all of a sudden, a change can take place. This phenomenon, which the Greeks call kairos, is a moment of intense interaction among those who do not appear without a long prior preparation. This book focuses our attention on the ‘here and now’, the present experience, often lived on a non-verbal and unconscious level. In the first part, the author gives a very subtle description of this ‘now’, the problem of its nature, its temporal architecture and its organization.

In the second part, entitled ‘The contextualization of the present moment’, he talks, among other things, about implicit and intersubjective knowledge.
Implicit <> explicit :
to make the implicit explicit and the unconscious conscious is an important task of psychotherapies of psychoanalytical (for him ‘psychodynamic’) or cognitive inspiration. The therapeutic process leads to moments of encounter and ‘good moments’ particularly conducive to a work of interpretation, or even to a work of verbal clarification. These moments of encounter can precede, lead to or follow the interpretation.

These ideas are obviously inspired by research on implicit non-declarative knowledge and memory on the one hand, and explicit or declarative knowledge and memory on the other. These terms refer to whether or not they can be retrieved, consciously or not. The second therefore concerns a memory system involved in an information process that an individual can consciously retrieve and declare. ‘Procedural memory’, on the other hand, is a type of non-declarative memory, which consists of several separate memory subsystems. Moreover, it is clear that non-declarative memory influences experience and behavior (the most frequently cited example is knowing how to ride a bicycle or play the piano, without necessarily being able to describe the movements involved).

A therapy séance can be seen as a series of present moments driven by the desire that a new way of being together is likely to emerge. These new experiences will enter into consciousness, sometimes as implicit knowledge. Most of the growing therapeutic change appears to be done in this way, slowly, gradually and silently. More spectacular is the emergence of ‘urgent moments’ that produce ‘moments of encounter’.”


Jean-Luc Nancy :

How can one, as an artist, give shape…? You are asking me to enter into the artist’s skin… That is precisely what I cannot do… And if I say  » into the skin  » it is of course very literally. The skin (peau) – “expeausition” (…) – is nothing more than the limit where a body takes its shape. If I think of the soul as “the shape of a living body” for Aristotle, I can say that the skin is the soul, or better, that it animates the body: it doesn’t wrap the body like a bag, it doesn’t hold it like a corset, it turns it towards the world (and as well towards itself, which thus becomes both a “self” and a part of the non-self, from the outside). The skin does not cover, it forms, shapes, exposes and animates this incredibly complex, entangled, labyrinthine ensemble, which constitutes all the organs, muscles, arteries, nerves, bones, liquors, which is in the end such an “ensemble”, such a machinery only to get in form in, through and as skin, with its few variations or supplements, mucous membranes, nails, hairs, and this notable variation which is the cornea of the eye, with also its openings – nine in number –which are not “inputs” or “outputs”, much less cracks or fissures, but instead the way the skin flares out or invaginates, shrinks and unfurls or expresses itself in various ways with the outside – food, air, odor, flavor, sound (we can add electrical, magnetic, chemical phenomena that mingle with what the “senses” tell us), – and the skin not only spreads from one opening to another but, I repeat, unfolds at each opening to form tubules, cavities, through the walls of which occur all the metabolisms, all the osmosis, dissolutions, impregnations, transmissions, contagions, diffusions, propagations, irrigations and influences (also like influenza). This system, which is both organic and aleatory, functional and hazardous (by itself essentially exposed), does nothing else but constantly reform, renew and transform the skin.
(Jean-Luc Nancy et Jérôme Lèbre, Signeaux Sensibles, Montrouge : Bayard Édition, p. 64-66)


Jean-Charles François :

For the apeaustle, the skin (peau) – expeausition – as the limit where the body takes its form, skin, edge where the pores are the form of the soul and animates the body, Saint-Bio of the contiguity of other bodies to the stars.

The peau-lisière (skin-edge) of Apollinaire, peauet until his trepanation, and peau-aesthete a-linear, was not at all police-wear, nor very polished, but poly-swarming, poly-swirling.

The emptiness of the soul is the form taken by this communion between the sensitive body and the epeaunym (in the sensitive lion eye of the Gaul primate).


Tim Ingold :

Wherever they go and whatever they do, men draw lines: walking, writing, drawing or weaving are activities in which lines are omnipresent, as is the use of voice, hands or feet. In Lines, A Brief History , the English anthropologist Tim Ingold lays the foundations of what could be a “comparative anthropology of the line” – and, beyond that, a true anthropology of graphic design. Supported by numerous case studies (from the sung trails of the Australian Aborigines to the Roman roads, from Chinese calligraphy to the printed alphabet, from Native American fabrics to contemporary architecture), the book analyzes the production and existence of lines in daily human activity. Tim Ingold divides these lines into two genres – traces and threads – before showing that both can merge or transform into surfaces and patterns. According to him, the West has gradually changed the course of the line, gradually losing its connection to gesture and trace, and finally moving towards the ideal of modernity: the straight line. This book is addressed as much to those who draw lines while working (typographers, architects, musicians, cartographers) as to calligraphers and walkers – they never stop drawing lines because wherever you go, you can always go further.
((Introductory text (in French ) to Tim Ingold,Une brève histoire des lignes, traduit de l’anglais par Sophie Renaut, Bruxelles : Zones sensibles, 2013. English original text:  Lines. A Brief History, London-New York, Routledge, 2007.)


Gustave Flaubert :

An edge of moss bordered a hollow path, shaded by ash trees, whose light tops trembled.


Tim Ingold :

But what happens when people or things cling to one another? There is an entwining of lines. They must bind in some such way that the tension that would tear them apart actually holds them fast. Nothing can hold on unless it puts out a line, and unless that line can tangle with others.
(op. cit., p. 3)


Aleks Dupraz :

My relationship to research became more pronounced after a year spent relatively on the fringes of the academic institutions. While I was wondering about research that I could join or set up with a perspective of contributing to the development of action-research, my trajectory has been strongly affected by my participation in different spaces of research and experimentation that were for me the network of Fabriques de sociologie (I joined in 2015), the creation of Animacoop collective in Grenoble (initiated in Grenoble a few months later), and the seminar of Arts de l’attention in Grenoble (inaugurated in Grenoble in September of the same year). Thus, it is above all in the encounter that my research recommitted itself, getting summoned to where it sometimes seemed to be lacking. Indeed, despite my attempts to introduce myself otherwise, I was often identified in these circles as a student and/or young researcher at the University. This was particularly the case at 11 rue Voltaire, the first location of the Chimère citoyenne, when I was part of the research seminar of the Arts de l’attention. I then became aware once again of the extent to which being identified as an academic came at first to freeze something of an identity to which I refused to be reduced while at the same time assuming a part of the social and political function that this entailed and the responsibility that this seemed to me to imply. In this tension, I could not help but notice my attachment to the world of the University – for which I remain very critical – this in a political context in which the discourses arguing the waste of time or the luxury of reflexivity and research in literature and the human and social sciences tended to multiply.
(« Faire université hors-les-murs, une politique du dé-placement », Agencements N°1, mai 2018, Éditions du commun, p. 13)

lisière eau
lisière eau


Nicolas Sidoroff :

Let’s take an artistic example: music and dance. Considering them as practices strongly marked by the historical setting of discipline, they are clearly separated. You are a musician, you are a dancer; you teach (you go to) a music or dance class. There are cases, boxes or tubes on both sides. Crossbreeding is possible, but it’s rare and difficult, and when it does take place, it’s in an exclusive way: you’re here or there, on one side or the other, each time you have to cross a border.

Considering music and dance as daily human practices, they are extremely intertwined: to make music is to have a body in movement; to dance is to produce sounds. Since 2016, an action-research was conducted between PaaLabRes and Ramdam, an art center. It involved people who are rather musicians (us, members of PaaLabRes), others rather dancers (members of the Maguy Marin company), a visual artist (Christian Lhopital), and regular guests in connection with the above networks. We’ve been experimenting with improvisation protocols on shared materials. In the realizations, each everyone makes sounds and movements in relation to the sounds and movements of others, each is both a musician and a dancer. For me, the status of the body (the gestures including those for making music, the care, the sensations, and the fatigue) are very different than the one I have in a rehearsal or a concert of a music group. They are even richer and more intense. With the vocabulary used in the previous paragraphs, in these realizations I am in a form of “tâ/ache blanche” (white task/stain) dance-music edge or fringe. A first assessment that we are in the process of drawing up shows that going beyond our disciplinary boxes (exploding the border, making the edge exist) is difficult.
(« Explorer les lisières d’activité, vers une microsociologie des pratiques (musicales) », Agencements N°2, décembre 2018, Édition du commun, p. 265)

Editorial 2021 – English

Access to Guide to the 2021 Edition

Access to the Contributors to the 2021 Edition


Return to: French Editorial 2021



Editorial 2021 – Break Down the Walls

Third Edition – PaaLabRes


1. Presentation of the 2021 Edition “Break down the walls”
2. Artistic Form of the 2021 Edition “Break down the walls”
3. Grand Collage – Part I: Experimental Encounters
4. Part II: Wandering Ideas
5. Parts III and V: Political Aspects
6. Part IV: A Journey to Improvisation
7. Edges – Fringes – Margins
8. Conclusion


1. Presentation of the 2021 Edition “Break down the walls”

Our world is more and more defined by the presence of walls separating human groups in radical ways : they might be solid walls between determined political borders, or only conceptual ones, notably in cultural domains. We are in the presence of a proliferation of small groups forming restricted communication networks and developing specific practices, often alternative to those that are perceived as dominant in a given space. This constitutes a form of democratic progress that makes it possible for a growing number of people to be involved in various causes or practices.

The presence of conceptual walls is absolutely necessary for any development of a significant collective activity. In order to establish themselves, collectives need to build a protecting shelter that allows them to ground their practice on values and to develop their projects freely. Nevertheless, this way of achieving a certain specificity can often in the long run tend to exclude people who do not correspond to the way of thinking of the given collective and to its behavior. Internally, these collectives can be open to multidisciplinary activities, but by developing highly specialized languages, they also tend to involve only a very small number of people. Consequently, the possibility of finding ways to open the protected spaces seems to be at the core of a reflection on walls.

An awareness of the ecology of practices is necessary: potentially, any practice can kill others and yet it depends on the parallel existence of other practices. The walls, closures, shelters should not be an obstacle to the respect for each other and to interacting with them. It is important that the practices be inscribed in a common space.

The possibility for any individuality to be situated at the limits of officially recognized fields, working on the paradoxes created by boundaries, should also be taken into account. In recent artistic practices, hybrid projects between two domains, two styles, two genres, have assumed great importance. Belonging simultaneously to several identities is a common phenomenon in our present society.

“Break down the walls” does not mean erasing them in order to create a generalized conformity to an order that would be determined from a particular place. “Break down the walls” however seems today sorely needed not only to counter political and cultural initiatives of exclusion, but also to create a real possibility for anyone to move freely in the space of diversity. Finally, “Break down the walls” requires the implementation of a particular set of provisions, which would guarantee the meeting of different groups on an equal footing and ensure that the exchanges between them would carry beyond a simple confrontation of points of view.


2. Artistic Form of the 2021 Edition “Break down the walls”

The website of the PaaLabRes collective ( is an evolving digital space for experimenting in encounters between artistic objects and the accompanying thought process, between the world of practices and that of artistic research, between the logic of stage presentation and that of public participation, cultural mediation and teaching. The 2016 Edition was based on a series of train stations. The 2017 Edition was based on a series of known places on a map.

The 2021 edition, “Break down the walls” proposes a new artistic form:

  1. A meander, like a river, representing both a continuity (without walls) between the contributions and the meandering spirit of wandering thought; it is a “Great Collage” [Grand collage] of all the contributions presented in a continuous sequence along this sinuosity (see Guide to the 2021 Edition). The idea is to find some continuity between a diversity of practices.
  2. In addition, each contribution will be published in its entirety. On the home page, the individual contributions are represented by “Houses” distributed in the space. Paths connect these houses to the river of the “Great Collage” to indicate the segments where the various extracts from the contributions appear.

Visitors to the site can choose to see/hear a segment of the Great Collage (or its entirety, which lasts about three hours), to read a particular contribution in a House, or to go back and forth between these two situations.


3.  Grand Collage – Part I: Experimental Encounters

The Grand collage is organized in five parts, each announced by the “Trumpets of Jericho” by Pascal Pariaud and Gérald Venturi.

The first part, entitled “Experimental Encounters”, focuses on artistic practices based on the encounter between two (or more) established cultures or particular professional fields, as well as specific contexts. These various encounters give rise to more or less extensive experimentation with a view to creating a context where participants representing their own culture may not have to give up their identity but may nevertheless be able to elaborate with others a new mixed or completely different artistic form. From a theoretical point of view, Henrik Frisk’s article “Improvisation and the Self: Listening to the Other” can be considered in this edition as an essential reference concerning intercultural projects and more generally the relationship to the other in the context of improvised music. This article focuses on the group The Six Tones, an artistic project between two Swedish musicians (Henrik Frisk and Stefan Östersjö) and two Vietnamese musicians (Nguyễn Thanh Thủy and Ngô Trà My) and the questions related to learning to listen to a production foreign to one’s own culture, while continuing to play improvised music. The French translation of a text by Stefan Östersjö and Nguyễn Thanh Thủy “Nostalgia for the Past: Musical Expression in an Intercultural Perspective” completes this article with perspectives from other members of the group. (See the original text in English on

The Six Tones experimental project of confronting in practice two cultures with very different traditions, in the perspective of an encounter between Asia and Europe, can be compared in this edition to Gilles Laval’s collaborative project with Japanese musicians Gunkanjima and that of the DoNo duo, an improvised encounter between Doris Kollmann, a visual artist living in Berlin, and Noriaki Hosoya, a Japanese musician. In the latter case, the meeting between Europe and Asia is coupled with an encounter between two very different artistic fields, visual arts and music.

Nicolas Sidoroff, a musician, teacher and politically committed researcher, joined a music group from Reunion Island with a family-oriented character. Even if all this takes place in the Lyon region at the geographical antipodes of the place of origin, the practice of music from this island cannot be separated from the related ways of life. To be accepted in the cultural space (without being necessarily part of it) then becomes the condition for an effective participation in the expression of this music.

Intercultural encounters are never simple, especially because the practices are always already creolized in the sense of Édouard Glissant:

The thesis that I will defend to you is that the world is being creolized, that is to say that the cultures of the world that are today in contact with each other in a thunderous and absolutely conscious way are changing by exchanging through irremissible clashes, merciless wars, but also through advances in consciousness and hope that allow us to say – without being optimistic, or rather, by accepting to be – that today’s humanities hardly give up something they have long been obstinately striving for, namely that the identity of a human being is valid and recognizable only if it is exclusive of the identity of all other possible beings.

(Introduction à une poétique du divers, Paris : Gallimard, 1996, p.15)

The perceptions we have of ourselves and of others are all constructed geographically and historically by the phenomenon of hyper-mediatization of the world, they can vary infinitely in a very positive or very negative sense, as the case may be. Any meeting context must take these perceptions into account before being able to develop real collaborations. The pragmatism of situations can well prevail over manufactured ideas. This is in line with John Dewey’s thinking:

When artistic objects are separated from both conditions of origin and operation in experience, a wall is built around them that renders almost opaque their general significance, with which esthetic theory deals.

(Art as Experience, New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 1934, 2005, p.2)

Intercultural encounters between practices that exist in our immediate surrounding do not reduce the complexity, because we can get along better between people of similar status living at very remote distances. The mutual knowledge of all those who cohabit in a given territory requires the development, in the fields of artistic education and cultural mediation, of situations that both recognize the dignity of vernacular practices and those that are at the center of the institutions’ preoccupations. Michel Lebreton, musician and teacher, bagpiper, who was President of the Association of Traditional Music and Dance Teachers, is a dynamic supporter of the integration of traditional music within the framework of conservatories in order to avoid confining this music to associations exclusively focused on a single practice. For him, the meeting of musical practices and their modes of transmission prevails over the illusion of the authenticity of separate practices:

In response to the illusion of transmitting an authentic practice of popular tradition, we must now commit ourselves to the project of putting into play, as honestly as possible, the patchwork knowledge that we have at the service of a teaching based on encounter and confrontation. The discoveries, the mutual sharings, the shocks, the debates and the thoughtful positions that result from this are all rich and salutary elements in the formation of any human being.

(Michel Lebreton, « Département de Musiques Traditionnelles, CRD de Calais, Le projet de formation », 2012,

In his contribution to the present edition, Michel Lebreton reflects on the distinction to be made between “walls” (we have always done so…) and “edges” (which are the “places of the possible”) and he gives examples of actual practice with students from the classical education sector, but also of collaborations between professional musicians from different backgrounds.

Dominique Clément is a composer, clarinetist, and founding member of the Ensemble Aleph. he is also assistant director at Cefedem AuRA in Lyon. This institution, since 2000, has developed a study program centered on the meeting of various musical aesthetics and this has led to the development of professional groups mixing several fields of practice. His contribution consists of a recording of excerpts from a piece, Avis dexpir, written for the contemporary music ensemble Aleph and Jacques Puech (voice and cabrette) a specialist in traditional music from central France. In this piece the typical sounds of the two musical genres are superimposed while keeping their identity and also skillfully mixed to create ambiguity.

Cécile Guillier, musician and teacher, has proposed situations for the creation of concerts-spectacles around the encounter between classical music and hip hop dance. She underlines the difficulty of such an approach in a context where the vision of the project is not the same for all partners. Above all, she notes the lack of time needed to develop situations in a meaningful way. Indeed, the teaching community does not take into account the possibility for teachers to carry out their own field of research as part of their legitimate professional functions.

The originality of the approach proposed by Giacomo Spica Capobianco (see the long interview in this edition) is both, on the one hand,

  1. To develop writing and musical practices with young people in neighborhoods where –more and more – “nothing seems to be possible”, allowing them to create their own artistic expressions.
  2. On the other hand, to supervise these actions not with a single specialist of a certain artistic form, but with a group of 8 persons (with a parity between men and women) coming from various artistic genres and forming as such a group of artistic practice working on its own creations.

Sharon Eskenazi teaches choreography. In a somewhat similar approach, she also proposes the constitution of groups with young people from very different backgrounds (Palestinian and Israeli – young people from disadvantaged and better-off neighborhoods) with a particular emphasis on the creation of choreographies whose style is not predefined, elaborated by the members of each composite group. In addition, she organized meetings in the Lyon area and in Israel bringing together the two groups of participants, Palestinian/Israeli and French, working together on their creative dance practices.

The National School of Music of Villeurbanne, since its creation at the beginning of the 1980s, is a place that includes almost all the musical practices present in our territory: classical music, jazz, rock, song, urban music, traditional music from Latin America and Africa, etc. More recently, teachers have come together to develop a common program to overcome disciplinary compartmentalization – each instrument in its own corner, also separated from basic musicianship courses, highly specialized aesthetic genres – to develop a more collective approach and to diversify the pedagogical situations as needs and situations evolve. Three professors who are at the center of this curriculum, Philippe Genet, Pascal Pariaud and Gérald Venturi, have been contributing, since 2019, in a research project in an elementary school (the Jules Ferry School in Villeurbanne) in collaboration with sociologist Jean-Paul Filiod. They are working on musical (vocabulary, culture…) and psychosocial (self-esteem, cooperation…) learning strategies. The project is based on the combination of listening to a diversity of music and sound productions made by the students themselves with the voice or everyday objects.

Intercultural encounters are not limited to artistic fields but can also concern the relationship between philosophical thought and the arts, between professional or social situations and the arts, between academic research and artistic practices.

Clare Lesser is a British classical singer specializing in contemporary music. She has just defended a doctoral thesis that relates the thought of the philosopher Jacques Derrida to a number of artistic productions of the second half of the twentieth century, in particular John Cage’s approach to indeterminacy. As in many of Derrida’s and Cage’s texts, the very form of her thesis and the way in which its textual formulation is fixed are constituted as an artistic object as much as an academic discussion. Thus, performances, made by herself with various collaborators of the pieces that are at the center of her analyses, are part of the thesis in the form of videos. In the PaalabRes edition, an entire chapter of this research work (“Inter Muros”) is published together with extracts of a performance of John Cage’s Four6.

Guigou Chenevier, composer, drummer, percussionist, led a collective project in 2015, “Art resists time”, inspired by Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine. The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. The group that was formed on the occasion of this project included musicians with different aesthetic backgrounds and also a philosopher, a visual artist, and an actress stage director. The project took place over several residencies alternating the work of the group’s development and interactions with the outside public. The largest and longest of these residencies took place at the Psychiatric Hospital of Aix-en-Provence, with active participation of staff, patients and an external audience, in the form of writing workshops and artistic practices. The idea of resistance is very present in Guigou Chenevier’s artistic and political posture. The project was directly influenced by the Italian painter Enrico Lombardi, who said in essence: “In any case, the only place of resistance that is still possible today is time.”

For the American composer and music theorist Ben Boretz, the hybrid character of his research is internally inscribed in the characteristics of his musical and textual production. In this third edition, we publish the French translation of a text dating from 1987, “-forming: crowds and power” (real time reflections in a -forming session on a text from Elias Canetti Crowds and Power). This text is presented in a graphic form (color, size and distribution of the characters in the space of the page) mixing poetic expressions with philosophical ideas. It deals with the need to erect walls that exclude, but also to make them fall, to open windows, towards the inclusive presence of others. For him, it is always a question of “negotiating the space between the Closed and the Open through the walls”. We are in the presence of a reflective thinking about the relationships between the collective and the singular individuals who are part of it.

Marie Jorio is an urban planner committed to the ecological transition. She “invites listeners to reflect, dream and act (…) in the face of the magnitude of environmental issues”, through the presentation of performances combining readings of texts, song and music. As part of her work, she has been at the heart of the conflicts over urban development between La Défense (a high-rise business district) and the city council of Nanterre (a popular neighborhood) near Paris. It is in this very frustrating context that she has developed a number of poetic and political texts, four of which are presented in this edition by her recorded voice.

An interview with American percussionist and conductor Steven Schick recounts the beautiful adventures of a performance of John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit on both sides of the border wall between Mexico (Tijuana) and the United States (San Diego) with the participation of 70 percussionists in January 2018. An excerpt of this concert can be seen on a video from The New Yorker (thanks to Alex Ross, the New Yorker‘s music critic for giving us permission). In Steven Schick’s intentions, this project, despite its obvious political character, was not an anti-Trump demonstration, but rather centered on the idea that “connections between humans and sounds pass easily through spaces and that no wall can stop them.”


4. Part II: Wandering Ideas

This section presents more general thoughts that are not focused on specific actions, for example related to politics or interculturality.

The primary choice of the term wandering was made with a poetic undertone: to find the term that best evokes, for us, an abundance of differences and experiments, of paradoxical and ambivalent situations in relation to the questioning of the various partitioning that can be observed in our society, particularly in the artistic and cultural fields. This in no way means that the people concerned have no idea where they are going and in which direction they want to go.

Here again, we can refer to Édouard Glissant:

The thought of wandering is not the desperate thought of dispersion, but that of our rallying not claimed in advance (…). Wandering is not exploration, colonial or not, nor the surrender to erring. It knows how to be immobile, and to carry away. (…) By the thought of wandering, we refuse the unique roots that kill around them: the thought of wandering is that of solidarity grounding and rhizome roots. Against the diseases of the single root identity, it remains the infinite conductor of the relationship identity.

(Philosophie de la relation, Paris : Gallimard, 2009, p. 61)

The question of the community and its relationship to the what is “foreign” is a question that crosses the concerns linked to the hyper-globalization of exchanges and at the same time the abandonment of a “universalist” approach in favor of extremely localized initiatives by small groups, creating a kaleidoscope of thoughts-actions. Christoph Irmer, a musician who lives in Wuppertal, Germany, sent us a text centered on Peter Kowald. This latter, a double bass improviser, who is no longer with us, was torn throughout his life between, on the one hand, being an itinerant musician, a globe-trotter who meets and plays with a large number of consorts without being able to develop more sustained relationships with them, and on the other hand, living within his community (Wuppertal) in order to develop more lasting actions with the foreign elements who reside there or with guest artists. For Irmer the great journeys do not escape the perception that the idea of the “stranger” is within us, it is the “hidden face of our identity”. He then quotes Julia Kristeva to describe our era as a paradoxical community: “If I am a foreigner, there are no foreigners”. He speaks of a “paradoxical relationship between affiliation and non-affiliation. (…) … in this globalized world, we do not become brothers or sisters, nor do we immediately become opponents or enemies.”

The relationship to the foreign, to the strange is also at the heart of the reflections of Noémi Lefebvre, a novelist and political science researcher. Debates on the relationship between human beings include here the presence of animals to better understand our perceptions and actions. We present a video produced by the studio doitsu, “Chevaux Indiens” [Indian horses], made by Noémi Lefebvre in collaboration with Laurent Grappe, a musician from Lyon. Based on the idea of the donkey-horse couple, a multiplicity of significant levels is presented between text and video collages. This video is presented in its entirety within the Grand collage.

It is not sufficient to bring opposing practices together to create the conditions for a more or less peaceful coexistence, a genuine living together or meaningful collaboration. In the absence of any particular disposition, the different modes of action and identity superimpose themselves, ignoring each other superbly, even within the institutions most open to the world’s diversity. Highly influenced by the research conducted collectively at Cefedem AuRA since 1990, notably in collaboration with Eddy Schepens, a researcher in Educational Sciences, Jean-Charles François, a musician and former director of this institution, is leading a reflection on the need, in the context of improvised practices, for the presence of particular protocols or “dispositifs” (agency) to ensure that within a heterogeneous collective a living democracy can take place in the development of shared materials.

Improvisation is a social practice. The relationship between individuality and the collective is one of the problems very present in the reflection on improvisation. Vlatko Kučan is an improvising musician, composer, teacher and music therapist, who works at the Hamburg Musik Hochschule. Using psychoanalysis, he tries to define the obstacles that must be overcome by apprentice improvisers. His article is based on quotes from well-known jazz improvisers, all of whom point out the need to forget hard-won knowledge when performing on stage and to surrender to the mechanisms of unconsciousness or overcoming planning consciousness. For him, three categories of walls present themselves: a) self-awareness, individual psychodynamics; b) group dynamics; c) material production, attitudes towards idioms and musical language.

Henrik Frisk, in his article, also deals at length with the question of the individual’s relationship with the other members of a heterogeneous group, around the question of ego and freedom:

With reference to one’s right to be individual, one may end up using one’s personal freedom to claim the right to control the situation at the expense of the freedom of the other.

(“Improvisation and the Self: To Listen to the other”, p.156)

György Kurtag is a musician and researcher in electronic and experimental music, art/science coordinator at the SCRIME in Bordeaux. He also refers to psychoanalysis by way of Daniel Stern. Stern’s thinking, by focusing on the present moment, brings into play the unconscious/conscious relationships of implicit/explicit knowledge. Improvisation can be seen as “a moment of intense interaction among those who do not appear without a long prior preparation.”

Yves Favier, improvising musician and technical director, emphasizes the uncertainty of the present moment, the awareness of its fundamental instabilities, the importance of knowledge situated in decentralized contexts and the horizon of the possible/probable that it gives rise to through intersubjective dialogues. For him, the notion of edge is fundamental (see below): “… the science/art edge making ecotone…”.


5. Parts III and V : Political Aspects

The large part “Political Aspects” was divided in two (third and fifth part of the Great Collage).

Artistic practices today cannot escape the political challenges raised by the multiplication of conflicts, of walls (both materialized and inscribed in mentalities), directly linked to questions about the future of the planet and those related to economic and cultural globalization. The idea of the autonomy of art in relation to daily life and life in society is not necessarily discarded as a critical force different from the political, but it is strongly put in tension by the need to adapt artistic practices to the realities of the human situation present in a given territory. Within this general framework, it is certain that the intercultural encounters and the ideas expressed in the first two parts (and in the fourth part), are no less “political” than those grouped under the rubric of parts III and V, even if the contexts described remain strongly colored by the notion of artistic and cultural spaces preserved from external conflicts, viewing at the same time a daily life quite different from those defined by “political” politics.

Two poles coexist and very often intertwine in the way we consider today the relationship between the artistic and the political. In the first case, artistic activity retains a certain degree of autonomy from the vicissitudes of daily life and the organization of social life. The space for creation in the arts is thought of as an alternative to the mundane world and must give the public the opportunity to discover a universe full of new possibilities. This approach implies spaces dedicated to these requirements, whose neutrality must be asserted, even if all contingencies may well demonstrate the contrary. The status of the creative act is considered here as independent of traditions and all aesthetic expressions, which become then recoverable as material detached from its social functions. The public concert, the professional scene, and the educational institutions that correspond to it, remain here the privileged structures, towards which all actions are oriented. Politics in this framework either expresses itself through actions undertaken separately from the artistic field or must be manifested in the textual or other messages attached to the works presented or through a link between performance and political demonstrations.

In the second case, attention is paid to the fact that any social interaction is the expression of an implicit or explicit political posture. This also applies to situations where artistic activity is manifested and elaborated. The emphasis is therefore no longer placed on the primacy of the quality of the work or performance, leaving the means to achieve this anonymous, but on the way in which the different actors will interact and collaborate in the construction of artistic objects. The public as such can be considered as part of this interaction and be invited to participate to a certain extent in this elaboration. The space of the stage, of the concert, of the educational institutions that prepare for it, are no longer the exclusive elements that dictate all the means to be implemented. The professional artist also becomes a mediator (teacher, animator, practice facilitator, organizer, etc.) in addition to practicing art, or rather, often not separating the artistic act from the act of social mediation.

Although walls exist that tend to separate the world of the first pole (those who are « good enough » to be on stage) from that of the second pole (those who do not want to limit themselves to the stage or who do not really have the means to do so), many artists today happily oscillate between the two situations, changing the specificity of their postures according to the demands of the different particular contexts that present themselves to them.

Guigou Chenevier, in parallel to his activities as a musician, is politically involved, notably by carrying out actions in favor of the reception of migrants. Concerning the many refugees who find themselves homeless in the region where he lives, there is some evidence of a complete absence of action by the public authorities at the national and local level, as well as by the authorities of the Catholic diocese, to take into account their problems of survival. A collective in Avignon has been created to carry out actions in order to alleviate this situation with all the means at hand. In his approach, Guigou Chenevier avoids mixing the help he gives to migrant families with his artistic practice, because he believes that it is important not to impose from the outset cultural postures that are foreign to them. In addition, the technical logistics related to the quality of the performances in which he participates doesn’t seem to him compatible with the more spontaneous nature of the political demonstrations that take place most of the time outdoors. This does not prevent him, as we have seen above, from developing artistic projects in which social interactions with human groups that are strange/foreign to him play a predominant role.

Céline Pierre is an artistic director in the fields of electroacoustics, multimedia and performance. She also is concerned about the very precarious situation of migrants near Calais hoping to be able to move to Great Britain. The piece TRAGEN.HZ, excerpts of which can be seen in the Great Collage, consists of “voices and videos recorded on a refugee camp on the French-English border and a sequence of shouts, alterations and instrumental and vocal iterations recorded in the studio.”

For Giacomo Spica Capobianco (already mentioned above), the situation of the populations living in disadvantaged neighborhoods is deteriorating very sharply compared to the past three decades. The access to cultural institutions is strongly compromised by several phenomena:

  1. When institutions overlap between two sectors, one rich and the other poor, the tendency is to deny entry to those belonging to the poor sector, to refuse to accept projects aimed at these populations.
  2. The opening of well-equipped institutions – thanks to funding for underprivileged neighborhoods – attracts crowds living outside the neighborhood and thus excludes local populations who do not feel concerned.
  3. Despite the opening of higher arts education programs to a diversity of practices, including popular and urban music, the graduates who come out of them do not feel concerned by the practices to be developed in areas where there is nothing but a “lawless zone”.
  4. Permanent cultural activities professionals often constitute obstacles to the actions of artists in these neighborhoods, as they tend to steer practices in directions that do not promote the personal expression of the young people they address and tend to reinforce them in their cultural ghetto.

Giacomo Spica is more optimistic today about the willingness of elected politicians to seriously address the social and cultural problems related to poverty. It is thanks to this evolution in the attitudes of politicians that he is able to carry out successful actions. He prefers the term “gap” to “wall”: with the gap everyone can see what is on the other side, while the wall is an obstacle to looking at anything possible. The ditch gives the opportunity to observe a distance that can be realistically measured and thus to better apprehend it in order to reduce it. Faced with a wall, one is rather in front of an impassable surface, the potential for creating a ghetto.

Sharon Eskenazi (already mentioned above), in her projects around choreographic creation in contexts of encounter between communities, offers a more optimistic view of the role played by local institutions. An important part of her action concerns both the participation of young people in creations at the Centre Choréographique National in Rillieux-la-Pape or at the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, for example, and the central attention she pays to encounters. A whole social life develops around her projects (shared meals, debates, staying with families, trips together, etc.).

Gilles Laval (also already mentioned above) notes an inverse phenomenon of incommunicability in the most prestigious artistic institutions: in the temples of classical music, the language used in artistic forms not recognized as worthy of consideration has little chance of being understood. Languages linked to practices that are part of autonomous networks become languages that are completely foreign to each other. Impenetrable worlds on either side are called upon to ignore each other more and more.

Gérard Authelain, when he was director of the Centre de Formation des Musiciens Intervenants in Lyon [Center for training musicians in residence in schools], had developed a whole series of exchanges with the Maghreb countries with a view to organizing musical practices on both sides of the Mediterranean that were suitable for all and appropriate to the contexts of general education schools. In recent years, he had been visiting Palestine on a regular basis to help develop musical practices in schools in this particular political context. After each trip, he has written a Palestinian Gazette to report on his work and the situation in which live the people with whom he has worked or whom he has met. We publish one of these Gazettes, “About a question on collapse” (August 2018). This text focuses on the bombing of the cultural center of Gaza and the distress that this event arouses in the population attached to the presence of arts, theater, culture, reading in their daily lives. Faced with this type of absolute catastrophe, Gérard Authelain wonders what meaning to give to his commitment: “Each time, before leaving and arriving on the other side of the wall in occupied territory, the question is the same: what meaning does it have that I come, I who don’t have to suffer these injustices, this contempt, these humiliating and degrading conditions?” For him, the answer to this preoccupation consists in constantly re-imagining his practice as a musician in residence in schools, who, wherever he practices his profession, intervenes in the discomfort of the unknown that constitutes the perceptions and attitudes of the students who must be confronted, not in order to impose on them manufactured knowledge, but to help them invent their own personality.

The American pianist Cecil Lytle was the Provost of Thurgood Marshall College at the University of California San Diego. In this very influential position, in response to the disappearance of affirmative action programs for minorities in California, he created a high school on campus exclusively for children from families living below the poverty line, with the goal – with the help of university resources – of getting them into prestigious universities. He then succeeded in bringing together the parents of students at a high school in San Diego, in a disadvantaged neighborhood, to develop a project to transform it along the lines of the existing high school on campus. This action, which closely involved the neighborhood’s residents, was successful despite the strong reluctance of the local authorities, and this high school now serves as a model for the transformation of other schools in the United States. One of the problems he had to face, given the successes he has achieved, was the one he himself experienced as a teenager: the acquisition of the culture of the elite (for Cecil, it was classical piano) comes into direct conflict with the popular culture of the milieu of origin.


6. Part IV : A Journey to Improvisation

The fourth part is concerned with improvisation. The contributions, which are part of it, of Christoph Irmer, Vlatko Kučan, and György Kurtag have already been mentioned above.

The pianist, improviser and visual artist Reinhard Gagel was at the origin, together with Matthias Schwabe, of the founding of the Exploratorium Berlin. This center in existence since 2004 is dedicated to improvisation and its pedagogy, and to the organization of concerts, colloquia, publications and workshops. He has organized numerous meetings between improvisers who have also conducted research on this musical practice and on the teaching methods to be proposed to achieve it. For example, in 2019 he organized a symposium on trans-culturalism in the field of improvisation, the different ways of considering the encounter between musicians coming from very different cultures, as it is the case in a city like Berlin. In the discussion with Jean-Charles François all questions concerning this idea of trans-culturalism are discussed. In addition, Reinhard Gagel raises many questions about his teaching at the University of Music and Arts in Vienna for musicians from the classical music world: is improvisation an opportunity to apply knowledge already acquired, now transposed in a context freed from the constraints of written scores? Or should improvisation be considered as a practice having its own means to create new sounds and their articulation in time? In the first case, we would be dealing with a kind of therapy that would heal the excesses of the excessive formalism of classical teaching and that could open the way to the pleasure of a certain freedom or to a better understanding of the creative challenge of interpreting repertoires. In the second case, improvisation would be considered as a practice having very different supports and mediations from the world of scores, especially in the way of considering individually or collectively the production of sonorities.

Christopher Williams, an American musician also living in Berlin. In a talk with Jean-Charles François, he raises the problem of public participation, of access for all to decisions in improvised situations. Taking as a model the action of the American architect Lawrence Halprin, author of the RSVP Cycles (R for Resources, S for Scores, V for Valuaction, P for Performance), and the contradictions that are inherent in his architectural projects developed with the direct participation of local populations. Indeed, at the end of these projects, the real estate developers did not fail to recuperate and modify them for commercial profit. Williams remains quite skeptical about the realities of such participatory approaches in the field of artistic practices. For him, improvisation is not far from the logic of composition, where a personality imposes its ways of looking at things. For example, improvisation can perfectly accommodate a dialectic between a composer and a group of instrumentalists. In this interview, he also talks about the way in which he conceives of the concert series he organizes in Berlin around the meeting of very different groups and also by inviting diverse audiences. In relation to this curatorial work, he is very critical of the fact that concert organizers are often nothing more than entrepreneurs who are not involved in the musical practices that constitute the raison d’être of the venues they control. He underlines the importance of local initiatives developed with the means at hand by actors who are close to the material productions of those invited to participate. The walls of incomprehension that often separate concert organizers from musicians are thus called into question.


7. Edges – Fringes – Margins

In April 2019, György Kurtag came to Lyon on a visit (from Bordeaux) to prepare with Yves Favier the meeting of CEPI, the European Center for Improvisation, created by Barre Phillips. That year, the CEPI meeting took place in September in Valcivières in Haute-Loire, two members of PaaLabRes actively participated, Jean-Charles François and Gilles Laval. On April 26, 2019, an encounter took place in Lyon between György Kurtag, Yves Favier (then technical director of ENSATT), and the members of the PaaLabRes collective, Jean-Charles François, Gilles Laval and Nicolas Sidoroff. The format of this meeting was to alternate moments of musical improvisation with discussions based on the different participants’ backgrounds.

During this meeting, Nicolas Sidoroff proposed to work on the term “edge” (or fringe, or margin) to reflect on ways to bring down walls. It was then decided to develop a kind of “cadavre exquis” around the concept of “edges”, with each of the participants writing more or less fragmented texts in reaction to the writings that were gradually accumulating. In addition, the five people were also allowed to propose quotes from various authors in connection with this idea of edges. It is this process that gave rise, in the Grand Collage (the river) of this edition “Break down the walls” to 10 collages (L.1 – L.10), which regroup these texts accompanied by music, recorded voices and images, with also extracts from the recording of the improvisations made during this meeting in April 2019.

The reference to the definition of the word “edge” is borrowed from Emmanuel Hocquard and his work on translation. For example, in his book Le cours de Pise developed in connection with his writing workshops at the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, he states:

The edge is a strip, a list, a margin (not a line) between two milieus of different nature, which have something of the nature of two entities without being confused with either of them.

(Paris: P.O.L., 2018, p. 61)

The notion of edge is more interesting than that of wall and border which abruptly separate different entities. It makes it possible to consider at the same time the specificity of the worlds between which it is placed and to combine them in this space of transition. The edge has its own life, which comes from the ecology of two interacting worlds.

The idea of the edge extends the concepts of creolization by Edouard Glissant, crossbreeding by François Laplantine and Alexis Nouss, ecotone in the field of biodiversity improvisation by Yves Favier, “ecosophy” by Felix Guattari, “bricolage” (tinkering) according to Claude Lévi-Strauss, Kairos, this “intense moment of interaction” according to Daniel Stern, skin by Jean-Luc Nancy, etc.

The refusal to be identified as belonging to one and only one identity, in order to be able to assume different roles in several contexts in turn, while remaining attached to the sum of the allegiances that constitute one’s own personality, is an important element in the choice of the notion of edge to face identity conflicts. (See the texts by Alek Dupraz and Nicolas Sidoroff in the collage and house “lisières”).

For Jean-Charles François, the thought of edges seems appropriate to our world broken up into small fragmented groups, but can also be the object of a drift that could be described as “intellectual tourism”. By emphasizing the edges that enclose or separate practices, the deepening of the latter risks being overshadowed in favor of the illusion of a space of infinite mediations without content. The biodiversity of edges depends directly on the presence of germs in the fields they border.

According to Michel Lebreton, “the edges are the places of the possible.” For Yves Favier, “the improviser would be a smuggler.” Emmanuel Hocquard: “The edges are the only spaces that escape the rules set by the State grammarians.” Gilles Laval: “the instant not frozen in the moment.” For Nicolas Sidoroff, “I would also say: creating the possible.”


8. Conclusion

When we launched the publishing project around the idea of “Break down the walls”, we had not anticipated such an abundance of ideas, debates and corresponding practices. This no doubt shows that these are absolutely crucial questions in today’s ways of thinking about artistic practices and research, but it may also mean that it is a “one-size-fits-all” concept that is in danger of lacking a clearly established substance.

At the opening of this editorial, we mentioned the question of the ecology of practices. This edition reveals the need to add to it an ecology of attention in the sense given by Yves Citton (Pour une écologie de l’attention, Paris: Le Seuil, 2014). Paying close attention to people, of course, but also to objects, tools, devices, things, explanations, imaginary things, words and concepts, etc. Thus, it is undoubtedly possible to create openings by playing against walls, using both the sense of « against » in the expression « to huddle against » (the wall that shelters and provides refuge) and the expression « fight against » (the wall that excludes and puts out). Is it possible to live collectively on the edges [lisières], without becoming entangled in slurry [lisier]?

In any case, we should not regret the process that this appeal has generated. This is the reason for the very long time it took to complete this edition. However, between the time of the call for contributions and the actual publication, the world has continued to be walled in in a disturbing way between the anxieties of global warming and the natural disasters that result from it, the confinement of societies in the face of an unpredictable virus, and the increasingly widespread assertion of aberrant counter-truths in order to disqualify those around us.

It is to be hoped that this edition will provide fruitful avenues for work and reflection in the field of artistic practices – and beyond! – to anyone willing to continue to resist the prevailing gloom and to work to leave open the democratic mechanisms of doing things together.

The PaalabRes Collective: Samuel Chagnard, Jean-Charles François, Laurent Grappe, Karine Hahn, Gilles Laval, Noémi Lefebvre, Pascal Pariaud, Nicolas Sidoroff, Gérald Venturi.

Production of the edition “Break down the walls”: Jean-Charles François and Nicolas Sidoroff, with the help of Samuel Chagnard, Yves Favier, Gilles Laval and Pascal Pariaud.

Translations: Jean-Charles François. Thanks to Nancy François and Alison Woolley for proofreading the translations from French to English. Thanks to Gérard Authelain, André Dubost, Cécile Guillier and Monica Jordan for their proofreading of texts translated from English into French.

Thanks to Ben Boretz, Vlatko Kučan, György Kurtag, Michel Lebreton and Leonie Sens, for their constructive feedback and encouragement.