Friday, October 05, 2012

La Lune et Les Moutons




Nuit Blanche, the annual night-time art extravaganza, was last Saturday. I haven't gone before because it's the last weekend in September and and that usually means it's cold, but there was this sheep thing down the street....

So we wandered out under the full Harvest Moon, headed to see Transhumance by Corpus. Originally based on their piece of performance art called Les Moutons, this included a number of community members and was the biggest flock of human sheep they'd ever had.

 

I know you're wondering about the sheep thing, but we're getting to it. When you get a chance, check out the links above, as well as this one. Watch the videos. You won't regret it.

So, it's like this… the people who originally put this together spent quite some time studying sheep and shepherds in Europe. Then they made costumes, put people in them and told a story through it. If it sounds demented, it's because it is, but it is also effective and touching and surreal and amazing.

Our particular flock of sheep came out of a courtyard, moving towards a grassy knoll a little bit down the street. This was the transhumance - defined in Wikipedia as "the seasonal movement of people with the livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures." When you first saw them, it was beyond words. Hearing the bells and the bleating was funny, but also weirdly evocative.



They had a little sitdown on the other side of the street. Or rather, they sort of threw themselves down on the ground, just like sheep. Then they sat there, occasionally bleating, some walking around and one even having a bit of a wee. Leave it to the black sheep in the flock...



The shepherd stood patiently waiting until the sheet had had enough of a rest and then the flock and the audience moved towards the mountain pasture



Where one toddler got up close and personal with the sheep. She seemed a little confused. The sheep on the right got sheared a little later in the performance and it was quite astonishing, really. She had the sheep movements down pat. If you've ever seen a sheep shearing, either on TV or in real life, you'll know how she moved



And that was the thing about it. This wasn't done tongue-in-cheek at all. Well, I'm sure they weren't unaware of how funny it was, but the performers lived sheepishness. They had the blank thousand yard stare, their movements were very sheeplike whether they were walking or sitting quietly chewing. There was a commitment on behalf of the people playing sheet that put the whole thing into something much more than humour



The bleats were funny, though. Especially when they did it right in front of a child. Big hit. The sheep that got milked was also a big hit and the shepherd generously shared cups with the audience

 

Yep. Blank stare that doesn't seek out eye contact. Imagine 25 minutes of that. This experience made me realize how much we look at and engage with our environment


The ram was tied to a tree a little away from the rest of the flock and at one point, a wolf came out of the blue and attacked it. The shepherd managed to chase it away, but there was a bit of limping when they all went back from whence they came



Overheard from a man in the crowd: "I've been coming to Nuit Blanche for 10 years and this made it all worthwhile."

I completely agree.
  

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