Guy de Cointet (Paris, 1934-Los Angeles, 1983) is one of the artists that best synthesizes the new relationship between theatre and contemporary art, from the end of the 1960s onwards. His work is based on the hermeticism of language and on art's capacity to invent systems of representation between play and logic.
His work is essential in understanding the reception of Marcel Duchamp in the North American context of the 1960s and in transforming the foundational aspects of minimalism, such as the shift from transcendence to playfulness or from literality to allegory.
In contrast with the white cube usually used as the exhibition site, Guy de Cointet's work takes place in an ambiguous, borderline territory between museum and stage, since his installations were conceived as theatre sets and as artefacts with meaning and narrative function. Guy de Cointet, an artist's artist, also represents a turning point in Californian/ West Coast conceptual art, a point of reference for Allen Ruppersberg or early artists such as Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, and one of the keys for understanding the renewed interest in performative practices based on narration, so characteristic of artists such as Dora García, Catherine Sullivan and Julien Bismuth.
In addition to offering a re-reading of Duchamp, de Cointet is responsible for extending the mark of Raymond Roussel in North American avant-garde movements. Art as a theatre inside a theatre, a system that invents its own rules, mechanisms and instructions for use. That is why de Cointet wrote that the author of Locus Solus was, like the artist himself a writer without literature (…), an inventor of a language that speaks for itself, a language about language, the brilliance of which resides in its greatest and most central defects.
This performance, organised in connection with the exhibition Locus Solus. Impressions of Raymond Roussel, is a unique opportunity to see the work of Guy de Cointet in the context for which it was conceived, somewhere between the theatre and the museum. Put on by the Dutch company If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, the two plays are the result of a long research process related to the complexity of re-staging.
Espahor ledet ko Uluner (1973)
This piece is a succession of apparently everyday references, with different moods, in a language invented by the artist.
Concept and text: Guy de Cointet
Performer: Jane Zingale
Five Sisters (1982)
In a replica of a white cube, five sisters meet. In their dialogues they show, with exaggerated camp sensibility, the transition from counterculture to pop, in an atmosphere in which obsession with physical appearances and the marketing of new ways of life are gaining strength in the new decade, the 1980s.
Concept play and text: Guy de Cointet
Light and stage design: Eric Orr
Director: Jane Zingale
Dramaturge: Marie de Brugerolle
Performers: Violeta Sanchez, Einat Tuchman, Adva Zakai, Veridiana Zurita
Light & sound: Elizabeth Orr
Curator: Frédérique Bergholtz
Curatorial assistant: Vivian Ziherl
Publication: If I Can’t Dance, design by Will Holder
Language: English spoken
Five Sisters is initiated and co-produced by If I Can’t Dance in Amsterdam, STUK Kunstencentrum in Leuven and MUSAC in León, and is financially supported by the Guy de Cointet Estate, Étant Donnés, the Mondriaan Foundation, the Culture Programme of the European Union, and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.