Mea Culpa Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
©Marie-Laure Briane
©Marie-Laure Briane

Mea Culpa | CHERKOUI

- Ode to forgiveness -

"If In Memoriam spoke of our roots, of our ancestors, Mea Culpa explores by snippets the world that they have bequeath to us.
What are the foundations of our current civilisation ?
At what price comes this comfort that we enjoy today, handed down to us by our parents and grandparents?
This thought led me to the concepts of division, of hierarchy, conquest, colonisation, thraldom of man by man, slavery, and pollution.
To what degree are we responsible in regards to the deeds of those from whom we descend? Are we unfettered of their choices? Even the most sophisticated of our conceptions and  life styles, ensue from this ancient, perhaps primal violence as well.

I am inspired among other things, by the work of the American artist Fred Wilson, who puts Colonial art and Renaissance sculptures in relation with each other.

The notion of thraldom has always seemed almost indefinable to me; in certain cases, the master serves the slave as much as the slave serves the master.  This ambiguity strikes me all the more so as the roles inverse themselves infinitely. Like a game of chess, the history of the hierarchy is overturned in revolutions, in a game of power, between black and white, king and queen, past and present, parent and child, the served and the servant… In which instant is this sentiment of wanting to be useful to others perverted to the point of feeling used by them? And when exactly does a sense of justice transform itself into guilt-feelings ? Are we slaves to our desires or masters of our bodies?

My "physical" preoccupation is the reconciliation of the bodies; the bodies speak without words, like listening beyond sound. The bodies hug and avail themselves. The dancers like trees in a hurricane, like voices running aground in the mountains, echoes for answers, like stories full of goodwill but without solutions, like porters, like cleaning women, wealth and poverty forever linked…

Men at the service of women, women at the service of men, from food to rot, from wine to the lack of water, from unclean to clean, from prayer to blasphemy…

An unending polarisation and quest for that which, despite it all, unites in the end. The music of Heinrich Schütz (17th century), played by the Ensemble Akadêmia and conducted by Françoise Lasserre, falls between the renaissance and the baroque, and offers a dramaturgical canvas very similar to that of my precedent work: the history of Christianity, the collective unconscious of Europe.
The scenograph Gilles Delmas and the lighting designer Dominique Drillot designed scenery made up of brilliant chandeliers which light a filthy earth.
Delmas saves the images from being trapped in cages, within frames and limits. Class, aristocracy, refinement and hand sewn quality characterise the costumes imagined by Karl Lagerfeld; black and white dominate, the epochs come together and unify in timeless dress which goes beyond fashion."

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

"Mea Culpa" | S.L. CHERKOUI
Choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Assisted by Sri Louise and Nicolas Vladyslav
Music: Heinrich Schütz, Diomedes Cato, Ben Harper, Biagio Marini
Music played by the Ensemble Akadêmia conducted by Françoise Lasserre
Costumes : Karl Lagerfeld
Scenography and projection: Gilles Delmas
Lighting: Dominique Drillot

Creation for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Premiere held on April 19th 2006