Caroline Engel: What is the focus of your attention?
Anne Le Troter: I collect speech and I write. I started recording work in mono: stories, but above all techniques that I’d invented to replay the world in my own words. These works now constitute a database. Another part of my work consists of pure writing. In L’encyclopédie de la matière for instance, I have written about the transformation of fundamental materials (wood, metal, sand, etc.) without using the tools of knowledge. This results in a kind of contemporary poetry. I have also written a play that brings a language into play that my sisters and I developed by trafficking syntax.
CE: What’s your connection with poetry?
ALT: I’m not sure if I’m a poet, or even if I can be part of the poetry landscape, but it is the medium in which I learn the most. I became aware of it in Geneva, by hearing many poets recite their texts, by reading so much of it, by trying to record myself as well, and by listening to the radio and sound banks at the CIPM for instance. Basically, by building up a discography for myself.
I also think I’m attracted to poetry because it has used specific media for a long time (sound plays, orality, text, reading, performance) and that in my own way, I explore the paths inherent to poetry in my sound work: rhythm, orality, speech, diction, etc.
CE: What provides the material for your installations?
ALT: I arrange “language blocks” one after the other, reworking them, using the constraints of the sound play for each phrase, its duration, its tone and breathing.
In my works, language is present and lives inside the body of the person speaking. Above all, it’s the sense of an identity that is actively at work, perceived through one or more voices.
I work on the sound and on questions of rhythm.
The reworked, shaped language and voice are the basic materials.
CE: Why do these materials need a constructed space in order to exist, so that the voices can be heard?
ALT: The language and speech that I develop are elements produced “without a mouth”.
What I mean by that is that there is no specific address, no target destination, no dialogue: the spoken element is not addressed. Unlike everyday language, which is ontologically linked to the presence of a body, my linguistic forms produced in this way are extracted from their relationship to a body.
I create the conditions for listening, so that the words are operative and effective. Since we promulgate speech in groups or meetings, the material elements underpinning my installations promulgate speech within the space and enable it to take root and be understood by the spectator.
CE: Do you devise the elements of the installation independently of the sound work? What comes first? And how do you describe or even define the sites that you produce? Are they spaces for the projection of language?
ALT: At the BF15, I designed the installation first, whereas usually the language and sound work come before the installation. The primordial question is: what is it possible to do with the (exhibition) space? It is always a relationship of circumstance with the venue: the installation therefore emerges in situ.
There is no connection between the material elements and the text. Nothing is illustrative. But the physical installation is fundamental for giving the voice a place to be heard, as you were saying.
The elements in the installation are visual “hooks”: everything in the space allows the spectator to take possession of the main element – the sound work. The sound elements and the objects of the installation are inseparable and work together in the space to enable the voice to have visual points of attachment.
I devise static, stable and balanced installations, so that the voice can be anchored to them. The installation is static, but never physically constrains the spectator, who I am constantly soliciting. I create ‘audio points of view’ in my installations and I expect visitors to move about among the markers that I’ve put in place, through notions such as zoom, blurriness and focus.
Finally, yes, I throw – I literally project – language into a dedicated space. Even if I do not use the same codes, I’d like to elicit the same attention as that required in a movie theatre.
CE: Where and how do you work? What is your relationship with your workspaces?
ALT: I travel often between Paris, Geneva, Rome and Saint-Étienne. I was born in Saint Étienne, I studied here and my family still lives here. Things are easy for me in this city.
There are many people who are just waiting for a chance to speak, to engage in discussion; this is fundamental for me.
These encounters constitute material for working with language. I do need to experience things in order to continue to imagine or dream about them. I need a point of anchorage within reality and Saint-Étienne represents that.
Excerpt from the sound piece Les mitoyennes, 2015, 13 min.
Exhibition La BF15, Lyon
Curator: Perrine Lacroix Collaboration with Max Bruckert
Production La BF15
With the support of Pro Helvetia, Fondation Suisse pour la culture in partnership with Grame, centre national de création musicale and Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon
Telephone interviewers : Sabrina Aït-Medjane, Sirine Berrhmoune, Florent Bick, Odile Bonnefoux, Jeanne Bossy, Thierry El Fezzani, Anaïs Petitjean, Eveline Pan, Hatice Tulan
Body percussions : Jeanne Larrouturou
Sporty improvisations : Antoine Bellini, Sacha Béraud, Lauren Huret, Lou Masduraud, Nicolas Momein
Translation : Shelly De Vito
Thanks : Georges Benguigui, Léa Bouttier, Yannick Charlet, Denis Chatelain, Olivier Emeraud et son équipe, Clément Gaillard, Victor Périchon, Philippe Roiron, Noémie Volle, Isaline Vuille