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Table’s pondering on existentialism

An audience bursting with laughter at the sight of a table is an experience both unusual and peculiar. Using wit and sophistication, GaŽtan Bulourde proved to the Malta audience that literally anything can be made into art while pondering with ease on existentialism.

First was a urinal. Made into an exhibit by Marcel Duchamp, it became a fountain. Because why make a new art piece if it serves well to give a new meaning to objects already existing? The urinal became a history too, a beginning of a new trend in art, ready made. Bulourde refers to the Duchamp’s concept by the title of the performance. However, in his “Already Made” he goes even further by asking the fundamental, but the most complex question – the question of existence. What are we really saying when we are saying that something “is”? What does it mean that something exists? What comes of it?

To verify it, the artist examines every-day objects – a stool, a chair, a plastic bottle case. Afterwards, he joins in a table, whose appearance causes bursts of laughter on the stage. First, the three performers observe their objects closely from different perspectives. At the same time they announce with their tones adequate to the chosen points of view that “something is”. All this just to show after a moment that the objects can “be” in a dozen different ways.

Just like in the association game, they enumerate features of this “something” – characteristic to the object, thus unmistakably proving its existence. They demonstrate different or rather all its uses – completely deprived of all usefulness. A chair doesn’t have to serve just to sit on, it presents itself nicely, for example, put on someone’s back or folding in and out in a run. The scenes to come are literally circus shows, acrobatics (sometimes even magic!). With energy and imagination the bottle case, the chair and the stool are played in a dozen ways. All this is accompanied by a village fair kind of music that brings circus shows into mind.

Finally, accompanied by mysterious music and subtle light a table joins in. The “dialog” between the stool and a new object is superb. The first, personified by a performer, poses questions and answers them at the same time. The latter is unwilling to talk almost until the end of the performance. In one of the scenes, people stop moving while lying one on another and the objects come into life. Put one onto another (in the same order as their owners) they talk about how they are feeling. Just the table, the one without an owner, responds with silence.

Bulourde has an intelligent, yet funny conversation with a viewer. He plays with an object, a meaning, a word. Each action, aiming at the confirmation of existence, is extremely precise. A lot of them have much charm, especially the ones done by Bulourde himself, when, for example, with grace and devotion he cleans his chair with a brush. A sterile, white floor and black walls are a simple but well chosen background which does not divert attention from the main characters – the objects.

A sophisticated sense of humour goes with the show until the end. When the artists had offered so many answers to the existential questions about the being of the chair and it had seemed that the riddle of existence had been solved, a table spoke smirking. And what are we saying when we are saying that something is not? Something is not or not going to be anymore? And even when we are saying “I am” – first, we must ask ourselves – who is speaking, who am I? Snickering, Bulourd’s table leaves these questions to the bewitched viewers.

Agnieszka Misiewicz
Teatralia Poznań
September 10, 2011
Translation: Kamila Wiszniewska

GaŽtan Bulourde (Belgium)
“Already Made”
Idea: GaŽtan Bulourde
Light: Sylvie Garrot
Cast: Werner Hirsch, Valťrie Castan, GaŽtan Bulourde
Opening: June 2010
Stary Browar Nowy Taniec na Malcie, maltafestival, Poznań 4-9.07.2011