For several years, Alexandre Roccoli has been exploring the lost gestures associated with handicrafts, or on the contrary those that have endured. Through his pieces Empty picture (2013), Longing (2014), Weaver Raver (2015) and several workshops, the choreographer has woven together visual and sound material pertaining to the world of textile makers. Alexandre Roccoli travelled to Italy, Morocco and France to gather testimony from those who keep the memory of this work alive, even as the automation of our industrial societies puts it in increasing danger.
Trying to “revisit” and at the same time “mend” these cultural narratives, in Weaver Alexandre Roccoli braids the stories of workers with tarantism (a form of hysterical behavior once attributed to a spider bite) and Alzheimer’s disease, two forms of wounded memory. For the first, the bitter memory of the illness-turned-folk dance (the tarantella) has been watered down by its representation, which has altered the memory of it, while the irreversible memory loss of the second prevents the transmission of all gestural heritage.
From its concrete meaning to its abstract evocations, the image of weaving is taken as a polysemic knot and these different stories are then braided into it. From the metaphor of the thread of life woven by the Fates to that of brain “tissue,” the center of memory – from the theme of the loom to that of the tarantula’s web – Weaver interlaces personal stories and collective narratives, legends from the past and testimonials from the present to forge a common destiny between them. Buoyed by a certain nostalgia, a remorse in the face of the dissolution of these gestures into oblivion, the project offers them a chance at survival, to reappear in our collective imagination.
Weaver takes the form of a modifiable multimedia installation (sound, image, performance), created on site. It uses the form and principle of reiteration: the looping words of silk workers, syncopated images of artisanal gestures, and compulsive choreographies. Confronting the repetitiveness of the technical gesture with pathology and dance thus creates the effect of restorative repetition, of a remedying of each by the other. Hearing these wounded memories heal and cover up these hidden stories, Weaver positions itself as a system of conservation that feels not so much documentary as affected, opening the road to a possible resilience.
Text : Forian Gaité