In 2015, the amazing Karine Sauvé managed to dazzle us and make us laugh (!) with Les Grands-mères mortes. She was also seen in concert mode during the latest edition of the BIG BANG festival. She is now working on a sonic creation in which the ears will be directly connected to the heart. While we wait for the three episodes to be unveiled, the artist lets us in on a few secrets around the process and themes of Chansons pour le musée.
You absolutely have to tell us about your creative process for Chansons pour le musée! Is it true that you sang to works of art?
I was in a slump. I wanted to sing but I couldn’t do it anymore.
It was hard being alone after I split up with the father of my children and I found myself living on my own, separated from them half the time. Breaking up as a couple, okay, we thought about it for a long time and it seemed like the right thing to do. But splitting up the family ... whew.
I hadn’t anticipated the disorientation of the grieving process.
I had to start over.
I wasn’t as good as I thought I’d be at being on my own. I needed to connect, but I was drained and it took a lot of energy to connect with other humans. I found myself fascinated by the works of Shary Boyle, Élise Provencher and Sylvie Cotton, among others, by forms that lie between abstraction and figuration, as if in a state of metamorphosis, works that are sometimes luminous, often strange, almost frightening. I contemplated them, I sensed that the artists had cared for them and loved them. Some sculptures attracted me more than others; their textures seemed to whisper their recollections of formlessness ... They seemed to give me permission to experience a pre-verbal state, a subtle state, taboo even, in which I recognized myself. They invited me to sit with myself and look my own monsters in the eye.
Feeling something often means going through it.
That’s the path I took.
It took quite a bit of silence, then, quietly, the urge to sing came back.
Singing for artworks and showing the effect they have on me has become a mission.
I wrote to the three artists to ask them if I could have some time alone with their sculptures. They said yes. I packed up my cooler, my mini-synth and my sleeping bag and ended up in residence-camping, spending three days and nights in their studio. At the end, I welcomed them and offered them my songs. It was simple, and we felt connected. I wanted to create a show that would talk about that, about separation, about the ability to be alone, about the healing power of art, and about support.
You tell this touching story of breaking up as an adult, a woman and a mother, which, looked at one way, is an experience that’s foreign to children. Tell us about this interesting perspective.
I have a psychoanalyst friend who works a lot with babies. When their mother leaves the room and they start to get separation anxiety, she simply tells them, “You know, your little mommy, she’s still there, inside you.” I think Chansons pour le musée is more about that mother than the other one, the flesh-and-blood one. It’s about the mother we can be to ourselves, the caring mother who knows how to be welcoming and curious even in hard times. I truly hope that mother isn’t a foreign concept for anyone.
Interview by Amélie Dumoulin