* This story is produced in the context of an editorial residency supported by Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, the Swiss Arts Council.
The first in a series of performances by artist and choreographer Clara Delorme is called L’albâtre (Alabaster). Alabaster is a mineral or rock that is soft, often used for carving and is processed for plaster powder.
In L’albâtre, the choreographer explores monochrome and invites us to examine the nature of the strange being she embodies, which oscillates between something inanimate, animal and human — an allegory of mourning of the animal world.
Clara strikes a balance between choreography and dance in this solo for a white body on a white background. The performance explores quiet, immobility and a body that is holding its breath.
L’albâtre, a dance piece created in 2019, was chosen for the Swiss Dance Days 2021–22 final selection, which honours outstanding dance works with artistic strength, creativity, and a distinctive creative language.
Understanding aspects of our identity and having conversations with the world around us is fundamentally based on our understanding of the body — the vessel that is the body. We make changes to our bodies to communicate as well as to interrogate ideas and states of being.
The naked body in Clara’s performance is a contrast, with slow, statuesque poses interrupted by the breath and quick, rigid movements.
“A performance should be as thin as an onion skin. An audience should see through you”
— Juliette Binoche
For many artists, using the body in performance is a way to both claim control by displaying complete vulnerability and to question issues of, in this particular case, singularity.
“I work rather instinctively. I do things and then they are there, without me really knowing why. What I try to do when I create, is to be as honest as possible,” Clara comments in relation to their performance.
The work of honesty and vulnerability in art is extremely hard work. In both the traditional, tangible sense and the intangible, impalpable sense.
A reclamation and affirmation of the distinction between choosing to be seen and choosing to be used can be found in Clara’s accompanying piece Lift Her Leg to Make Her Vagina Lip Come Out. In order to reframe and reclaim Clara’s online presence as an artist, the piece deftly re-appropriates the online sexual harassment she experienced in response to L’albâtre.
The Clara Derlorme: Double Bill was performed at the National Arts Festival at the end of June.