Photo: Julian Mommert
The dancers Costas Chrysafidis and Ektor Liatsos
Of the body swallowed and recrachés from the bowels of the earth are the raw material of a strange theatre of images in The Great Tamer. Behind the strings of what he described as a “freak show” existential “, the Greek artist Dimitris Papaioannou maintains the illusion scenic playing of distortions to flavor surreal. It is for this old cartoonist adopted by the middle of the dance, the image precedes the movement. Evidenced by the storyboards, which he sees as a canvas of its parts.
Photo: Julian Mommert
“I see myself more as a choreographer of the elements and material that works with the body,” says the creator of 54 years fell in the eye of the general public in 2004 with its gigantic staging of ceremonies of the opening and closing of the olympic Games of Athens. Since then, the one that has forged its know-how on the scene the underground athenian has become a staple of the major european festivals and has been assigned to the warrants of size, including a new design for the iconic Wuppertal Tanztheater of Pina Bausch. “Even if all kinds of virtuosity in dance me delight in my work, the virtuosity is not an element of first plan. If it is useful to me, this is only to serve the aspect of freak show that I like. “
The eye of a painter
Initially trained in painting at the beaux-arts and with renowned painter Yannis Tsarouchis, it is in the 1980s that Dimitris Papaioannou was introduced to the dance and turns to experimental theatre, related as much to the performance as to the design of sets, lighting and costumes. As he starts to compose his own choreographic creations, he discovered the work of Robert Wilson : “I could see that his works were the fruit of the gaze of a painter. At this time, I was looking for mentors. So I went to knock at his door in Germany to be observer of his creative process. I was definitely influenced and allowed them to evolve, ” explains the artist, whose designs are always a starting point.
Photo: Julian Mommert
The dancers Pavlina Andriopoulou, Evangelia Randou, Kalliopi Simou and Alex Vangelis in “The Great Tamer”
This penchant for the arts, visual arts hue as his approach to the creation stage that the contents of its parts, which are chockfull of references to the history of art (El Greco, Rembrandt, Magritte, Raphael, and Botticelli) : “Because the issues that I treat are philosophical and existential, I communicate often through the evocation of archetypes. And when you have in the head an encyclopedia of the history of art and that you work with the body, inevitably, when you create, you face shapes of the human body which have been crystallized by the great masters, images that have marked the memory of our civilizations through time. I often need those references and the awakening of our collective memory to tell my stories. “
After having portrayed Sisyphus as a hero of the working class in Still Life (2014), Dimitris Papaioannou continues to dig in its Greek inheritance to refresh the myths, and archetypes. Found in The Great Tamer of his obsession for the body fragmented and hybrid — similar to the remains of Antiquity —, the bonding and reshaping. “For this piece, I am focused on the concept of memory in the archaeology. The idea that under the surface of the earth, somehow, there is a root of human existence ; it is going through layers and layers of traces left behind by previous civilisations, by our dead and our ancestors. Where this vision of a tea that could generate new opportunities below the surface. “
Because the issues that I treat are philosophical and existential, I communicate often through the evocation of archetypes. And when you have in the head an encyclopedia of the history of art and that you work with the body, inevitably, when you create, you face shapes of the human body which have been crystallized by the great masters, images that have marked the memory of our civilizations through time.
— Dimitris Papaioannou
A disturbing story that occurred a few years ago in Greece has acted as a catalyst for the imagination of the wasteland of archaeology : the body without life of a young man victim of bullying had been found buried in the earth. Do not deal explicitly with this tragic event, the artist is inspired to touch on the paradoxical nature and contradictory to human nature, this tendency of the human to ” be both a saint and a beast, to want to glorify the living and seek the grace to then sacrifice it, destroy it and devour it, and always end up re-embark in the same quest.”
This infinite compulsion of repetition, returning again to the burden of Sisyphus, is materialised in a universe of sensational and dream-like which pass also idols, figures of christ and of the martyrs. Sacred images he likes to bring it to the surface of consciousness, and distort to give them a resonance of the contemporary.
The Great Tamer
Creation of Dimitris Papaioannou. With Pavlina Andriopoulou, Costas Chrysafidis, Dimitris Kitsos, Ioannis Michos, Evangelia Randou, Kalliopi Simou, Drossos Skotis, Christos Strinopoulos, Yorgos Tsiantoulas and Alex Vangelis. At Usine C, from 23 to 27 January.