Annie Zadek was born in Lyon, where she studied aesthetics and philosophy with the exclusive ambition of being a writer. If, for her, the book – the text – is essential, it is also something that generates metamorphoses which are in themselves equally essential: theatrical musical and radiophonic stagings; silkscreens; graphic installations; public readings. She conceives these experiments alone or with other artists. Neither novels, theatre or poetry, but all those things at once, and more, her writing is resolutely trans-genre.
A constellation of events injecting tensions into the relations between writing, speed and images lay behind a project for which the invitation to work at Le Fresnoy could well be the high point. Here is the calendar, starting with the following “original scene”: in May 2011, I am at the Shoah Memorial attending a discussion with the filmmaker Marceline Loridan-Ivens (deported to Auschwitz, she is the protagonist of the film Chronique d’un été by Rouch and Morin). She talks about the possibility of remission from a major trauma by means of analysis or art.
– 2013: writing residency with the former deportation station at Bobigny on the theme “How to transmit, and how to overcome” Also that year, participation in Nathalie Zajde’s ethnopsychiatry discussion group about sharing the trauma of the Shoah with the children and grandchildren of survivors. – February 2013: at the Ateliers Varan, historian Sylvie Lindeperg presents her book La Voie des images, in which she analyses what is revealed in the margins of the “documentary” films shot in the concentration camps at Terezin (known as the “Artists’ Camp”) and Westerbork, all the way to the rupture effected by Nuit et Brouillard, the film by Resnais and the poet Jean Cayrol.
– April 2013: publication of my text Nécessaire et urgent. Parallel to the theatrical production of this text (the show continued to “tour” into 2016), I give public readings conceived with artists and create graphic installations based on it in various contemporary art venues in France and Germany.
– January 2014, Galerie Marian Goodman: JG by Tacita Dean, an analogue film with a sound track based on the artist’s correspondence with the writer J. G. Ballard: how do you show Spiral Jetty by R. Smithson, made invisible by the covering water of the Great Salt Lake?
– Summer 2014: “Practical aspects of making documentary films” training at the Ateliers Varan, in order to open my writing to the specificity of film language.
Indeed, while the book – text – is essential to me, and while it has been clear from the start that, rather than written books, I write books of words, Contemporaine. Un film parlé was something I felt had to be a book in images, in words and in images, in words spoken over images, in the way one comments on a family album, between the original scene and screen memories from which, most of the time, the essential is absent.
Now, what emerges from the time frame sketched out above – apart from silence, absence, invisibility and disappearance, the metaphor for which could be that Spiral Jetty before Tacita Dean’s art gave it a kind of epiphany – are the multiple forms of connection between text (written spoken, acted) and images. Contemporaine. Un film parlé would thus be the place for experimenting with a text-image combination that relates at once to commentary, as mentioned above, but just as much to simultaneous translation, dubbing and subtitling in cinema and surtitles in theatre. Not to mention what is bound to emerge from the time we spend working together, nourishing, inspiring and challenging Contemporaine, the book.
Project at Le Fresnoy: Contemporary. A Spoken Film, Annie Zadek, July 2018