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Florent Delval

- Are you used to the practice of the interview? - Well, I think I have to answer yes and no at the same time. Basically, I performed a lot of interviews as a journalist. And only few as an artist. For my practice is divided between these "two domains"... in a way of course, there's no borderline. It is more a technical categorization. So am I used to interviews? As an interviewer, I think I'm tending more and more to abandon all patterns, that is to say all prepared questions. It is something I learn on the field... the more the clever the questions are, the worst the result is. I think it is a meeting with the japanese musicain Keiji Haino who triggered this statement. He's a rock icon, but he has an aura of an eastern sage... he's a character, and he told me "Why are you asking all these questions, since you know the answers already?". I was a little bit stunned. But then I learned to let more and more space to improvisation. So the more I'm doing interviews, the less I know how to do them. The more I'm practicing, the less I'm used to it (Laughs). And as for my role as an artist, I think I've been interviewed three times only... But i think I get more profit of these interviews when I had to answer "I don't know" or "I don't understand the question". Because when you're affirming what you know or pretending to know, usually there's nothing happening...

- Ok great. So I think I should improvised questions with whatever comes to my mind and you would answer "I don't know". - Basically yes (Laughs)

- Well. So, as you said, you have a double activity, don't you think they interfere the one with the other? - Do you mean as a code of ethics?

- We can start by that... - So, no I don't have a code of ethics. Even though I'm thinking about this question ofen. I know that for instance, if you become a museum director, you have to stop being a critic. It is mandatory. But frankly I don't understand why. I think it is almost the same activity. For instance creating a structure, a collective, a new mode of distribution is also a artistic gesture. Thomas Hirschhorn's Musée Précaire is a fine example. And recently I've seen a festival organised by Association Lisa in Utrecht and for me it was brilliant in the concept : they were curating and at the same time participating. And their own performances were kind of responses to the works of the guests. So the structure they created was a work of it own. It was in between a structure, a work, a symposium... And if you think that if I write a good paper on someone, then I would get advantage, like get programmed somewhere, it is very naive... It doesn't work that way. Or yes it could work that way, but even if I would be only an critic, it would work that way too... Maybe I'm not clever enough to take real advantage of the situation...

- But how are you passing from the journalist mode to the artist mode and vice versa, if I could say so? - There's no such shift. It is very simple, I'm writing on works I like, I'm working with people I like and soon I will organise a small video art event in Brussels to promote artists I like. Of course I will not write about this event in magazines I working for, but that is the only limit.

- So you're defining the limits by yourself? - Yes.

- So we just have trust your honesty... - Well, I don' see no other possiblity... But this is not interesting frankly. What is interesting is when I'm writing an article, when I'm assisting the work of other people, when I'm doing my own work, it is the same process more or less. As I told you, now I'm thinking of this video exhibition. And it is really exciting : like, which artists shoud I choose, why, how they will interact, how to build the space...

- So do you consider your art critic activity as art? - I don't even consider my art practive as art (Laughs). I don't want to be arrogant saying that... It is just that I'm working at a modest level now and I still didn't achieve something that is satisfying me. So I wouldn't say it like that, because I don't want to say my articles are that important. But I would say that all my activities are at the same level. Maybe it is the same than you said but it is a different way to put it... To make a long story short, the processes are exactly the same. You're searching the more efficient way to go somewhere, and once you choose to go there, or there, the actual practice is leading you in a slightly different place. And so you try to correct it but not really because you found something new... blahblah... It is the most basic dialectic of artistic creation, but it's also the way the act of writing is functioning...

- But then I still have difficulties not thinking critic / theory on the one hand and art/performance on the other? - It is the same for me, I sometimes have difficulties to think out of the established patterns, even though I know that these differences are pointless. As soon as art became self reflexive, the borders became blurred obviously. I have a project of conference about Andy Kaufman, an american entertainer, but whose work is important for the reflexion on performance art. And I want to do it on a stage. But at the same time, I want it to be done in a straight way just talking, giving informations, reflexions... Not like "performative conference". I don't know if I'm clear...

- But what is there in common for you between pratice and theory...? - I could obviously answer that the lecturer has a body. But I'm not really thinking in that terms. I would rather say that everything I do is more or less linked with the act of writing and litterature. That is the common point of it all...

- Are you interested in litterature? in today's litterature? - Not so much... I'm only reading classics, from time to time. Greek litterature. Or historical books. I don't have much interest in litterature...

- This sound a little bit paradoxical - It's true, it is a total paradox. I'm mostly interested in people like Georges Perec, or Edouard Levé, because their way, is more the one of visual artists. I don't think Perec ever considered himself as a visual artist of course. But a text like 200 Postcards, could be the work of Claude Closky for example. I like Raymond Roussel also... I was also very interested in sound poetry, like Bernard Heidsieck etc...

- So your work is litterature. But you're interested in litterature only when it is not litterature. - Hmmm... yes!

- So where is the litterature in your work...? - It is quite difficult to say exactly but let me tell you about an interview I had with Ivana Müller... While we were talking, I notice that she was always refering to choregraphy even when she was speaking of her texts or videos. And I said "Why don't you use only the word "-graphy"? And maybe someone else could say that all of this is not "Choregraphy", but "Music". So I try to question her about that. And it is not that, for her, choreography is the origin of all art, but she choose that it would be the place where she's talking from. It is a frame to reduce her field. And for me, I think it is almost the same, but I choosed to talk from Litterature. As for now I'm working on a piece called A simple dance, and we're looking on the minimum requirements for dance.

- That is to say? - We're working on basic statement we've collected, like "Dancing, it is going up and down", "Dancing, it is breathing", "Dancing, it is being together" etc... It is a work about definition I would say. Can you imagine a party for instance... And there is a guy who's not having fun with the other. But almost imperceptibly, with a glass in his hand, all stiff and shy, he's shifting his weight from one foot to the other. So in a way, he's dancing. This is what I would call minimum requirements for dance. And this way of defining things, making categories is a way of working inherited from my studies...I must confess I'm really a maniac with definition. A cat is a cat and nothing else (Laughs)

- Don't you think that "text" or "words" would be more appropriate? - Yes maybe. I think I'm a definition freak, because I cannot define my work... But maybe I'm thinking "Litterature" like Litterature studies, which are more oriented on analysis, classification, ethymology, latin, linguistic etc...

- Anyway, this project, A Simple Dance... It is a little bit contradictory, for you were criticizing the categories a few minutes ago. - Yes, I know. But this project, A Simple Dance is a little bit a joke. And I'm trying to cure myself (Laughs). But to be true in my work I have to acknowledge my contradictions. And anyway, we are surrounded by categories, binary thoughts etc... We cannot really avoid then. Like I'm really against all distinctions like written/improvised, art/critic, theory/practice, documentary/fiction. But sometimes I'm using them to facilitate a conversation.

-Have you used such shortcuts in this conversation? -I'm afraid I had...May I ask you something now?

- Yes

- Have you asked some questions knowing already the answer?