Camille DAGEN et Emma DEPOID
Camille and Emma received a production grant for their play Bandes.
What is your artistic background?
We met in Strasbourg within the TNS school's Group 43 in 2014. Emma was studying scenography, and Camille acting. Previously, Emma had studied applied arts at the Boulle and then Duperré schools, and Camille, following a literary preparatory class, joined the École Normale Supérieure de Paris in philosophy and theatre in 2011, while training as an actress and performer by following the curriculum of the Paris Conservatories of Dramatic Art. Very quickly, we shared the desire to invent forms together, as hybrid as possible: a four-handed article for the magazine Regardin which a poetic text by Camille responded to a photograph of Emma; an in-situ performance designed and directed by Emma in a Le Corbusier flat with an actress directed by Camille; a series of photographic portraits of young artists... In 2017, a carte blanche commission at the TNS enabled us to work on our first show, directed by Camille in permanent dialogue with Emma's stage design. Beyond our artistic and friendly collaboration, we share, in addition to a taste for research and the invention of new forms, the desire to reflect on each stage of the creative process like an artistic gesture in its own right, from production to dialogue with the audience. The idea of giving shape to our duo through a creative structure that allows us to put our approach into practice was a natural choice: Animal Architect was born in 2017. Our first show, Durée d'Exposition, toured in Paris and in Germany, where it won the jury prize and the audience prize at the European Fast Forward festival in Dresden in November 2018. Durée d'Exposition, which we were invited to by the Maison Européenne de la Photographie to invent and represent a version in the form of a museum performance, follows the steps of a manual for using silver photography to talk about separation—and is also an attempt to overcome this separation. It is a montage of text fragments, more or less far-fetched or minimalist protocols and purely performative steps in situ. This interweaving of cut-throat theatricalities, which for us are complementary, has enabled us to set our framework. We sought to create a process which, in moving from Racine to the choreography of non-dance, inspired by Debord without denying Céline Dion her rights, uses the stage as a tool to find the present through a rigorous structure. The shows, exhibitions, places, countries, encounters, faces, texts and textures, ways of doing things, ways of saying... that we discover together and individually are the subject of a permanent dialogue between us, as well as each decision concerning the stages of our creations.
How do you see your profession today?
Our "professions" are at least twofold: Camille plays as a performer for other directors (in 2017-2018, with Julien Gosselin for the play 1993and Joris Lacoste with Noyeau Ni Fixe) and Emma works as a set designer with artists of widely different ages and aesthetics outside Animal Architect. Subjects other than the strictly theatrical also play an important part in our lives: dance and philosophy, in particular. This porous plurality is essential for us. We do not think of our profession as an exclusive, separate and determined job or function, but above all as a continuous exploration of forms, things, contents and methods, from which we draw, through reflective empiricism, hypotheses for our lives and practices. The field of our profession appears to us as a fundamentally hybrid one, fortunately open to all winds and absolutely inseparable from our experience of reality. Thus, our view of what constitutes our "work" is difficult to dissociate from our view of the world: a view that tries to be as attentive and open as possible, worried, always in metamorphosis, nourished by innumerable othernesses, and caught up in different situations that offer it the opportunity to redefine itself with joy.
How do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?
Let’s focus on the present and hope for the best!
This interview was conducted in 2019
Photo credit: Amandine Besacier