Là où cueillir la chute , is a research project that brings together my new drawings of raw clay, singing bowls, breaths and other ceramics with music recordings, on a vinyl disc, of four of my collaborators, accomplished artists from global cultures, disciplines, who are performers and musicians: Ziya Tabassian, percussionist, Olivier Girouard electroacoustician and composer, Peter Morin artist and curator of the Tahltan First Nation and Navid Navab multidisciplinary artist and composer.
This project is subsidized by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
From the beginning
I use clay as the basic material for my work. This material, which is found everywhere on the earth's crust, fascinates me. It carries the history of the world. This is the conclusion I have reached since I started collecting clay in nature and on the land. Each one has its own specificities that tell the story of the territory and the communities that inhabit it. This recording project is the first time I have sourced clay in the greater Montreal area where I live. This happened with the precious help of Mr. Victor Girouard, an agronomist, we accompanied him to one of his family's lands in Saint-Hyacinthe. This is where we gathered the clay that is the basis of this whole project. I had no idea how much this clay would teach about these territories.
The road ahead
The Montreal Plain was the main clay sedimentation basin of the Champlain Sea, whose presence dates back 10,000 years. This clay is at the root of the region's specificities and the richness it bequeaths to us. Today, these lands are considered among the best agricultural lands in Quebec. It is here that I discovered a rich, easy-to-handle clay with which I drew and threw. It is grey in nature and once fired becomes a beautiful orange. Better still, this clay resonates and sings. This, it seemed to me, was all that was needed to launch our collective project of clay, sound and music.
Gathered around singing bowls, clay drawings, earth sculptures and my sound recordings, all that remained was to imagine a continuation. The sudden stop due to the pandemic turned the project on its head and slowed down our momentum. Far from each other, unable to meet together, we had to invent a place where we could bring this project to life differently. I have always considered my collaborations as much as artistic achievements as human encounters. They have essentially taught me the importance of listening and breathing. It is from this place, listening, as abstract as it may seem, and where it is more important than anything else to be attentive to the other that "Là où cueillir la chute" has taken up residence in the generosity of the heart, of the breath and of the earth, in the sharing of stories. Thank you Olivier, Peter, Navid and Ziya for being here.
Hand Talk and the Tahltan Language are the final parts of what constitutes the development of the project into a live musical performance.
We launched our record on September 25, 2023 in my studio, with the invaluable contribution and generosity of Mélanie Cody.
Mélanie is a linguist of Cherokee, Choctaw, Shawnee, Pamunkey, Narragansett, Montaukett, Mohawk and Pequot descent. She translated Mom's Song into PISL (Plains Indian Sign Language).
It all began when I first saw a video of Hand Talk that was sent to me through friends.
I watched it and was completely destabilised by all that I learned in just a 10-minute video.
From Wikipedia: ‘Plains Indian Sign Language (PISL), also known as Hand Talk or Plains Sign Language, is an endangered language common to various Plains Nations across what is now central Canada, the central and western United States and northern Mexico. This sign language was used historically as a lingua franca, notably for trading among tribes; it is still used for storytelling, oratory, various ceremonies, and by deaf people for ordinary daily use.’
I first asked Peter if he would be interested in having Mom’s Song, fifth track on the record, translated in Hand Talk. And he said yes.
I took a chance and send Melanie an email. Her name appeared on the credit page of the video. She answered me within an hour.
What I thought of as a two-sentence song and easy to translate became a very thoughtful translation in Hand Talk. Spiritual indigenous names, words that did not exist in Hand Talk or what the Tahltan houses were made of, all where in-depth questions that needed a sensible answer in order to give the song all its strength in Hand Talk.
Melanie taught me how to sign the song.
This translation with the hands is now how I approach the song, and how I feel the connections to my ancestors.
Finally, Peter also had the song his mother sang to him, Mom's Song, translated into the Tahltan language.
Clay sourced in summer at rang Saint-François in Saint-Hyacinthe.
Freshly thrown clay from Saint-Hyacinthe
Peter Morin on the site of the clay harvest in Saint-Hyacinthe
Singing and resonating bowl,
Video of Charlotte Lacoursière
Ziya Tabassian: drum skin