in the park, no matter what – Liberation

Observe, stay still, get bored, lose track of time… choreographer Joanne Leighton offers two volunteers every day to enter “the Watchers’ Cycle”, above the Guilands park in Seine-Saint-Denis .

We have just locked ourselves (of our own free will) in a cabin, which culminates above the Jean-Moulin-Les Guilands park, 26 hectares between Montreuil and Bagnolet (Seine-Saint-Denis) well known to its inhabitants. The laymen do not imagine that 500 meters from here, where the sidewalks join large groups to tile companies and rental boxes, there is a pond surrounded by bordello reeds, lawns where initiates prick. picnic while admiring one of the most beautiful views of Paris. Like many parks, that of Guilands is one of the beating hearts of these suburbs: place where lovers meet (as in the park by Damien Manivel), sportsmen, or night owls who know a secret but forbidden opening.

Dog walkers, yogis and local artists

Since the beginning of October and for a whole year, it is also possible to “watch over” it. In the morning, before the sun rises, and in the evening, before it sets, a sentry goes to a watchtower perched on the Maison du Parc. From there, she watches the city for an hour, without a watch or distraction. Called the Watchman cycle, this participatory performance by choreographer Joanne Leighton, which has already taken place in Rennes or Evreux, intends to extract 730 volunteers (2 people x 365 days) from the daily turmoil to question them about the imperceptibility of the landscape that surrounds them. Said like that, the device may seem sketchy but it is in fact an unusual experience in a marked out urban daily life. Observe, stay still, get bored, lose track of time… The opposite of a parachute jump but still with the feeling of a great void.

Led by the Maison populaire de Montreuil, the adventure is pleasing, almost all the time slots until March are reserved, and, like the park, turns out to be a real melting pot of populations, attracting some dog walkers who are not fond of contemporary art than local yogis and artists. “We are in contact with educators, social centers and neighborhood centers around the park, explains Pauline Gacon, director of this place which combines popular education, amateur practices and programming flirting with the experimental. It’s also political to give everyone the opportunity to reclaim their daily life, to have a stage in the peaks of the city. ”

Observe everything that moves

Here we are, without laptop or notebook, trapped in this pine box, about 7 meters long by 2.50 high, like an angel in weightlessness above the world. What do you do at 8 a.m. in winter, aimlessly watching the darkness light up? Last night, a guy preceded us. Was he, too, taking stock of his love life, his electricity bills, the place where he would spend his end-of-year holidays? The hut looks like a corridor (a purgatory?) Which leads to two large windows at its ends. We stick our noses to it. We watch the many joggers doing laps around the stadium. We go back and forth from one window to another to observe everything that moves: the udders on the grass, this factory chimney that appears between the clouds, this mother who holds her child’s hand without ever seeing us. see…

We take ourselves for Perec or the lookout of an absurd territory as in the Desert of the Tartars. No enemy on the horizon, no nuclear attack, no tsunami. We look at Paris and for the first time, we tell ourselves that there isn’t much going on there. It seems that no one lives in the buildings facing us. Surprisingly, we end up standing still in the middle of the corridor, attentive to the position of our body, to its jerks. We become porous to tiny variations in light. During all this time, we are no longer looking for anything spectacular, pierced by the first rays, it is we who are in a state of wakefulness. In the window, our face is superimposed on the city.

Until October 2, 2022 at Jean-Moulin-Les Guilands Departmental Park (93). Booking a slot:

Source: Libération by

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