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David Altmejd and Pierre Lapointe: Conte crépusculaire

David Altmejd’s spring homecoming to Montreal marks a gathering of unique talents in what promises to be one of the most exciting Canadian art events of the year. Conte crépusculaire is the name of the performance the artist has devised with Québécois singer, composer and songwriter Pierre Lapointe, and it is being described not as an opera or a musical, but as a conte visuel et lyrique—a visual and lyric tale—as well as an interactive tableau vivant for which spectators will be encouraged to change the dynamics of each performance. (Indeed, most of the mise en scène will be “created live” by Altmejd in participation with his audience.) The production team for the work includes composer Yannick Plamondon and musicians the Molinari Quartet and Philippe Brault. Artist Pascal Grandmaison has also helped bring the project to life.

The details of the piece are being kept hush-hush, but the premise has been released, and it accords with Altmejd’s interest in mythic, bodily themes. Conte crépusculaire is set in the far future and concerns a king who, by tradition, must kill himself at the age of 30 using a poison prepared by his son, the successor to his throne; the monarch travels through his kingdom after urinating on his nightgown, a sign to his people that his death is nigh. The piece opens with the concoction of the poison.

Though the six performances running May 4 to 7 are sold out, there will still be a chance for other viewers to partake of the experience. A supplementary exhibition will run from May 11 to June 11 at Galerie de l’UQAM, and it will include all the work Altmejd has created for the stage as well as some documentation of the events. In another nice narrative inflection, Loup-garou 1—a work recently acquired by the gallery (they first showed it in 2001) and the premiere instance of Altmejd’s werewolf motif—will also show alongside these props. (1400 rue Berri, Montreal QC)

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