Arnaud Petit

Né en 1959 (France)

Composer Arnaud Petit has taken an interest in and worked with the image in its many different forms. Choosing to work with silent films at IRCAM in the late 1980's, he used music and sound to develop the theatrical power of images. In his opera, La Place de la république, premiered at the Centre Pompidou in the early 1990s, he himself made a central cinematic part of the opera. He has also been interested in the sound and music dimension of exhibitions (especially «Les immatériaux» with Jean-François Lyotard). Since then, orchestral and electronic music has played an important part in his work. He is also interested in the link between popular music and written music and in 2013 created the Chaos Orchestra with Daniel Yvinec in order to explore it. He is currently working on an adaptation of a text by Nicolas Bouvier, Halla San, for soprano, actor and percussion ensemble, which will be premiered in January 2016 at the Théâtre de la Ville/Théâtre des Abbesses, by the Percussions Claviers de Lyon. He has won several awards in Europe and the United States (Lavoisier Laureate, Villa Medici, McDowell Fellow, International Theatre Institute, etc.).

There is a confused but pervasive idea that an art is not learned or, rather, cannot be learned in the same way as another human activity. And yet there are art school, and professors who teach there. Observing the world of art education with a gaze free of social, academic and institutional constraints is a complex and perhaps impossible undertaking. At Le Fresnoy artists accompany students in their development, trying to understand the nature of their vision, and help them fulfil it. A composer is an artist of listening rather than seeing. And yet strange correspondences do appear, and the musician's structural concerns sometimes shed light on those of the visual artist, more so than one might at first imagine. A young artist's project at Le Fresnoy is, from what I have been able to observe, a bit like an inner road movie, an initiation. It puts me in mind of those novels that relate a salutary personal journey (we may think of Nicolas Bouvier, Primo Levi, Joseph Conrad, Jerzy Kozinsky and many others), a creative displacement that is also inscribed in the space of thought, without which nothing can really be achieved.

A form of displacement, but of one's self-image, is also at work in the project ID.

ID is an opera which explores the idea of the double. It was conceived by Arnaud Petit and Alain Fleischer. A figure (a dramatic soprano) is observing herself, as if in a mirror. Her image gradually comes free, becoming a shifting identity that also sings, and with which she develops a strange relationship. Is this a relation to her own memory, or the reappearance of a long-lost being, or simply the invention of an errant spirit?

A mysterious figure, embodied on stage by a mime moving on the borders of dance and an ancient art of movement, seems to have deep power over the development and behaviour of the double. Can the latter, a pure technological creation, help us understand our relation to our world today?

The technological developments without which ID could not exist were elaborated in a unique collaboration between various partners (Cirrmt and Théâtre Omnibus in Montreal, Diem and IRCAM in Paris, Numédiart and Acapela Group in Mons, Inria and Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing, which is the main supporter). ID is also grateful for aid from the DGCA.

Arnaud Petit.