In this day and age, we only read with our eyes. We no longer read the words out loud, which would disturb the people around us. In the times Job was composed, texts would never have been read without also being spoken out loud, whether murmured or directed at an audience. It was as if the human voice was the only thing capable of giving body to texts, make them happen and make them be heard. As if, for the book to rise, the dry material it was written on had to be dipped in the reader’s mouth. In this voice that chants, intones, forbids, cradles, juggles with verses, I would like to hear other voices coming from elsewhere: those of the absent, the dead, a god, an author.
In Antiquity, texts were occasionally written down, carved on dry material, as a way of securing their content. Each new text would compile several previous ones. Those composing them would work like musicians playing “variations”: filling in, correcting, glossing. To engrave a speech on wax or clay tablets was time-consuming, and the tablets were cumbersome to carry. Recent research on the Art of Memory in Antiquity shows that the main medium used for books was, in fact, the reciter’s own memory. Memory was used as storage and coding space, but also a tool for composition. Singer-reciters needed to know long texts by heart, and their audience wanted to be able to memorise extracts, strong images, fragments of the story, even when they were silently listening. This is why those authors mastered repetition, scansion, rupture, inversion, affirmation and negation, rhyming, and fragmentation; they knew how words and images can really impact… With these tools, the author of Job invented a machine to grasp misfortune an force it to unfold and open out.
I dream of reconstructing this Job, of having it chewed by memory and chewed by a mouth. I dream of finding again the text’s organic movement, the pauses in its breathing, the repetitions and contradictions, the resistance of its matter, the consistency of its images. To do so would mean attempting to breathe in synchronicity with the original Hebrew text, to dance in counterpoint of its singular rhythm. With artistry, we would reconstruct and invent a psalmody, using new instruments that would be as relevant today as the harp or the trumpet were for the authors of Antiquity. We need to find a way of grasping this text – Job - as it is: untouched by our assumptions, so that people can come and see it reveal itself in all its inherent musicality.
Technology is a species that depends on the human body. It undergoes mutations and evolutions that predate and shape the mutations and evolutions of its host.
Every day now, and at the expense of our own posterity, whom we knowingly harm, our human nature is forced, or forces itself, to transform. We do so to secure enough energy and go through the new hypnotic and technical update of the world. Because we reject signs outside of our bodies, push them away from us, we have lost the ones that identify us. Shut away in our homes, we all confront this new form of solitude and, in a desperate gesture, saturate the airwaves and communication channels with distress calls.
Scared and flouted, we are human beings without a designated interlocutor. Our cries gather in a swarm, pile up, die and bury us. Tomorrow, where will we be able to weep, skin against skin? Where will we gather to exult in fear and exchange joy? How will we comfort one another? Who will we tell the words of the oppressed? Who will listen to our human breathing? Will art be our messenger? A thousand questions for one misfortune, and maybe no god to answer them anymore. Or maybe, one can madly hope, someone’s voice, mechanically amplified by the voice of other people laughing through machines.
The Book of Job is a masterpiece written during the golden age of poetic creation in Israel, probably at the time of...
The incandescent nature of a chant Before anything else, Job is a great sung poem. In Antiquity, when it was created,...
The principles that underlie the scenography we are working are: to gather together, in one single breath, humanity and...