Maflohé Passedouet is a cerebral, multi dimensional, pan genre defying, technospiritual, convention flouting, futurist gypsy, woman, artist and human being. Speaking to The Pandorian…
PP. What a great name, Maflohé.
MP. Maflohé was a name my mother discovered and gave me when I was seventeen. It was the name of a boat she saw in Brittany. My original name was more traditional and wasn’t really chosen by my parents. There is an old French tradition of bestowing the first name of our female ancestors. It was a hard name to carry, a burden almost. This name belonged to a lineage which I didn’t feel close to. I chose Art as my religion at the age of 17. I needed to free myself, to take my chosen road and at the same time my mother renamed me symbolically. I was born again. The dice were thrown. I was the number 2.
PP. Where does your family come from?
MP. I’ve always felt close to my family. They were part of the exiled Austro-Hungarian and Polish that arrived in the North of France during the exodus of 1922. They crossed Germany and arrived at the French border where they finally settled.
My grandfather took out his violin as soon as he could and played while others danced on tables with tears of laughter and delight. This joy in life despite suffering; extreme cheerfulness in the face of extreme poverty. A nomadic tradition read in coffee grounds and cards. Poppy seed cake shared at the local meetings every Sunday. This gypsy music always spoke to me. I found myself there. My blood pulses with these same intensely strong feelings.
PP. How is your gypsy background connected to your work?
MP. I discovered my family raised horses and were always on the move. No house, just horses and caravans. I was always fascinated by the circus life. I frequented the Fratellini circus school in Paris to draw the acrobats while dreaming of living in a caravan. Life on the road with the circus resembles a tribe, a continuation of this nomad life. To honour this strong and brave lineage. To perform shows where the body expresses intense feelings without words. To bring delight in the unlikeliest places. I feel the need to pass these values on. I have learnt from this loyalty. A pride in poverty The ability to bounce back and adapt to circumstances. To create from nothing and not to be shaken by seemingly difficult conditions. The art of creating magic with a mere three ends of a thread, if you like.
I created my company 11 years ago with this desire to live on the road with, dancers, acrobats, musicians, to construct circular iconographies where dance, music and images emante from paintings, light, sound and movement. This desire to create an immersive theatre. To take the usually innert spectator on an extra-dimensional dreamlike journey! And thus my company Mobilis-Immobilis was born; mobility in immobility.
PP. What are you working on at the moment?
MP. I have recently been working on a new multimedia dance show Flesh and Soul which was shown in Toulouse last October. I have also been developing installation works over the last three years, questioning perceptions and disturbances of senses. The last two works, are directly connected to my roots.
My great aunt died last January. She revealed so many secrets to me, so I created two new pieces in her honour. Throughout her life she always foresaw the future through cards and coffee cups as well as palm reading. She underwent such hardship and endured relentless constraint but always behaved with dignity due to the strength of her mind and heart. The Body of My Soul which I showed in Dogma last autumn in Zagreb, Croatia is my tribute installation to her. The second one Between the Lines is an interactive installation, where the future of audience participation could be told in real time while I appear as a projected ghost giving predictions. Only extremely positive ones of course!
PP. Have you inherited the talent of clairvoyance? Can you read the cards or coffee cups?
MP. Regrettably I forgot what my aunt taught me about the meanings of coffee grounds left at the bottom of cups. I always assumed it a child’s game. But I have learned to read tarot cards when I started to have surprising intuitions. Seeing into the future is not the best description but sometimes strong intuitions and images arrive in front of my eyes or emnate from certain people. I experiment every day a kind of life magic, the possibility of delight through intuition, dreaming and imagining. For some time I have been exploring gypsy tarot cards and learning how to decipher them. It’s very instructive because it renews the imagery of the Occidentals carrying the outer and inner life of a race accustomed to living in close communication with the intangible. Constantly observing the tangible and reacting to it – a condition of its survival. I feel an infinite belonging in this race.
PP. You talk often about magic. What does magic represent for you?
MP. For me magic expresses itself in the form of synchronicities, of coincidences. Situations lived even in difficult circumstances, take sense and raise us. Magic also carries the glance of the invisible. It is about not believing necessarily in what we see. Not taking ourselves too seriously while taking a sidelong look at everything which composes our human existence. It’s a desire for the supernatural in an adults’ often sad world. It‘s feeling connected with other beings and things. To believe that we can be co-creative of this life… the magic thought.
PP. How and why did you decide to become an artist?
MP. To survive. It was certainly a means of defense from the world appearing too rough to me. I was first painting in order to reinvent my life through the forms and colours which I couldn’t find in the everyday life. Things I was missing. Then I become an actress. This allowed me to become somebody else, escaping life, which was not convenient for me life where I couldn’t find my place in this world. Then I realised I must create this place myself because it doesn’t exist.
I believe that an artistic act is pure magic. The power that can affect others through emotions, reflections, a proposition through which widen the field of one’s consciousness. I persist in creating art relating to madmen, the children, the primitive. Art that celebrates the childhood, with possibility to resist the chaos. I am trying to ease things, by proposing another glance into new realities, by reinventing things.
PP. Can you imagine yourself being anything else but an artist?
MP. No I can’t.
PP. In your work you play with many different art forms across the spectrum. Dance, movement, performance, theatre, film, video, music as well as interactive aspects of new technologies. Can you please explain about using diverse forms and methods in your creative process?
MP. My intention is to use new technologies for the purpose of creating a theatre envisaged as a laboratory where many artistic disciplines cross, summoning the scientific knowledge and the techniques of its time to integrate magic, sound, visual, dance, kinetic elements. The reduction of levels of perception and modern projection devices explode a unique perspective, offering a certain freedom to the spectator.
The new technologies became a modern tool for scenic writing. They open huge perspectives which allow us to invent a new art and since they are implemented in real time they really revolutionise this writing. Consequently new cultural needs appear and to satisfy them we need to abandon existing tools and to develop new devices. Experiment with interactivity, virtual reality, the intelligence of artificial life, every step requiring to create its own materials, layouts and peculiarities.
I am just inventing my own scenes, mixing art and new technologies, art and science, collaborating with researchers and programmers to exceed the technological aspect by forgetting it. To express sensibilities, to pass on, to share feelings, by means of multimedia. So many challenges can be raised only by taking into account the human dimension from the first phases of the creative initiative.
Attempt to not separate the real and virtual. They are considered as not belonging to the same world but consider them together. Abolish the borders of a created space, ceaselessly crossed by body movements. The action and the movement of an actor and / or the spectator. Attempt to investigate between two… Between two worlds. In between.
Text: © Predrag Pajdic
Images: © Maflohé Passedouet