100 Dessus Dessous

A couple of days ago I spat a blizzard of burning pitch in the direction of various Melbourne journalists and the Melbourne Festival, certainly spraying across a far wider target as like an amateur in charge of heavy machinery, destruction is my name. I think part of what was annoying me in the festival, and this tends to be a criticism of many large festivals, is the lack or curatorship, or artistic direction. That sounds, I guess an easily refutable statement, but looking at the festival website, the programme is arranged as a purchasing order, buy this on these days, that on those, and unlike other festivals, say Next Wave, there is a distinct lack of clarity and an evasiveness about just what the festival is about. That is to say, if you make a theme broad enough, any work of art can be ‘about’ it, and in that diluted broadness it becomes about nothing beyond linguistic cleverness of copy-writing.

At the same time through ImPulsTanz’s Juice newsletter, I came across the 100 Dessus Dessous in Paris, a small festival of performance, dance, theatre, film. Besides that I know a couple of the performers and I think they are amazingly cool (Ivo Dimchev and Nigel Charnock), and there are a couple of others I’ve heard about a lot (Poni and Kate McIntosh), there’s just something for me in the festival that I find attractive, that if it was on in Melbourne right now, unlike my aversion to seeing stuff here, I’d be at every performance. This is not necessarily because individually I think each artist could make me go “waah!”, probably at least half I’d come away from going, “ow, that stingsss! please kill me”, rather it’s the overall conception of the festival that somehow radiates a sense of cohesion, and seriousness about the art. And if I can conflate all of this and my other babblings about the Melbourne Festival into one thing, it’s that I have no idea what the festival is about.

“Private life / public scene”, a reality-theater

Now in its 6th year, 100 dessus dessous 2006 counts about 15 shows directed at matters of everyday life, creating the contours of a theatre reality reflecting the anxieties of contemporary society.

A theatre reality hallmarked by works drawing on reality, skewed autobiography, references to popular culture, alienation of familiar forms and of representations commonly shared, this approach focuses on action rather than interpretation. And, from this disturbed reality emerges the more general question of the reality of illusion.

This year’s exciting program federates several generations of artists, French premiers and creations from the Villette Artists in Residence program. Shows, events, readings and films are all on the menu, with no hierarchy of forms. Thus, viewers are invited to partake in an artistic undertaking deliberately unstable and unpredictable in nature.

Frédéric Mazelly, Project manager

— 100 Dessus Dessous