Mathilde Heu
Infraworlds

"Greater Than Lion" is the new contemporary dance production created and directed by Kennedy Muntanga Dance Theatre (KMDT) and co-directed by Olivia Grassot.

Greater Than Lion based on the African tale ‘Greater Than Lion’, from the book ‘The Girl Who Married A Lion’ by Alexander McCall Smith. This work follows a couple mourning the death of their child and explores strong themes of rebirth, death, confrontation, grief and acceptance. This will be Choreographer Muntanga’s debut solo performance at Messums and a demonstration of how artistic dance is developing alongside theatre.

It is supported by the Arts Council England funding, Impermanence Dance and the Messums Gallery Wiltshire.

Direction: Kennedy Muntanga (KMDT)
Co-direction: Olivia Grassot
Stage Set: Mathilde Heu
Music: Tommy Khosla
Lighting Design: Ryan Stafford
Costumes: Gabrielle Venguer
Photo and video: Agnes-Elinor Luck Galpin

"Greater than Lion", photo credits: Messums Wiltshire / Agnes-Elinor Luck Galpin, 2021.

"Greater than Lion", concept art (visualisation for the stage set at Messums Wiltshire), Mathilde Heu, 2021.

 © Mathilde Heu
"Greater than Lion", sketches and RnD at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, London (UK), 2020.

The piece is originally inspired by the African tale "Greater than Lion", which tells the story of a hare using his wisdom and ingenuity to defeat a lion, thought to be the mightiest of beasts. The hare cleverly traps the lion, by telling him that he knows of a creature who is mightier than him. The lion, filled with pride, and eager to defeat this mightier creature, follows the hare who locks him up in a room and tells him that the mysterious beast he'll be affronting will be coming soon. The lion awaits, impatient, and eventually starves to death.


"The primary idea of the stage set originates from the same tale, as I was moved by the vivid image of the lion starving, his rib cage made visible under a thin layer of skin. This sculptural installation is also portraying an internal space, a fall within oneself where the struggles are felt and fought, anchored in a body that glitches and becomes heavy - a trap from which one aspires to escape."

Mathilde Heu

 © Mathilde Heu
Art Director Kennedy Muntanga (KMDT) improvising on the soundscape for Greater than Lion, London (UK), 2020.
"Greater than Lion, stage set visualisations, 3D model by Mick Geerits, 2020.

"In a Nutshell, (Que faire?)", pencil on paper, 5 m x 1.50 m, 2019.

En: Forms appear, she writes of the process of drawing the palms: wings, leaves, flints. The same might be said of "Que faire? [In a Nutshell]". Using a laser scanner, Heu produced a 3D rendering of a walnut, and then translated this scan into a drawing five metres across. Forms appear, yes, but as quickly disappear, and to commit these to words—to say this palm looks like a wing, this nutshell like a rock face, a churning sea—feels banal, like reciting a dream upon waking. Which seems the point: Heu is less interested in analogy, in drawing equivalences, than in those moments when we lose the sense of what we’re looking at, when we’re overwhelmed by what things could be.

Kit Webb

Fr: In a Nutshell (Que faire?) (2018) est un dessin au crayon de cinq mètres sur un mètre cinquante, qui fait suite à une série de reflexions autour des notions de micro-mondes et infra-mondes forgées par Mathilde Heu. S’inspirant de la célèbre citation de Shakespeare “ The world is your Oyster ”, qui répond directement à la question posée dans le titre français Que faire?, In a nutshell cherche à créer un espace de possibiltés infinies à partir d’une coque de noix, minuscule, et confirme ainsi une autre citation de Shakespeare: “ O God. I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a King of infinite space. ” Traduction : ” Ô Dieu ! je pourrais être enfermé dans une coquille de noix, et me regarder comme le roi d’un espace infini, si je n’avais pas de mauvais rêves.”

“Utilisant un scanner laser, Heu produit un model 3D d’une coque de noix, et le traduit par le biais du dessin, en un panorama s’étendant sur cinq mètres. Des formes apparaissent, oui, mais pour disparaître, aussi rapidement. Dire que cette coquille  ressemble à une paroi rocheuse, une mer agitée — semble banal, comme réciter un rêve au réveil. Ce qui semble être le point : Heu s’intéresse moins à l’analogie, à l’établissement d’équivalences, qu’à ces moments où nous perdons le sens de ce que nous regardons, quand nous sommes dépassés par ce que les choses pourraient être.”*

*Kit Webb

"A dance of Scale", at the Assembly Point, London (UK), 2019.
Making of "In a Nutshell" (que faire?)", Studio, 2019.
"In a Nutshell (Que faire?), pencil on paper, 5 m x 1.50 m, 2019.

"Parcae", flexible led loop, silicone tube, variable size, 2019.

En:

"Drawing has often been defined by critics as always preliminary, always provisional. Jean-Luc Nancy begins The Pleasure of Drawing by describing it as ‘the opening of form’—that is, the beginning of form, the point from which we depart, as well as its breaking apart, its dehiscence. (1) Drawing doesn’t close, doesn’t contain; it ‘records the unfolding of an event, not the fixed reality of an object’. (2) This seems an apt description of Heu’s practice, one which is transitive, relational, always moving-toward- or coming-into-presence, even when sculptural. Take the breathing, illuminated line drawn through three dimensions that is Parcae. Named after the goddesses who spin, measure, and cut our fates, it sketches, in one long stroke, a life’s unspooling."

1. Jean-Luc Nancy, The Pleasure in Drawing [2009], trans. Philip Armstrong (Fordham University Press, 2013): 1.
2. Brian Dillon, ‘On the Elements of Drawing’, in The end of the line: attitudes in drawing (Hayward Publishing, 2009): 9.

Kit Webb

"A dance of Scale", at the Assembly Point, London (UK), 2019.

Epicentre, interactive sound installation, mild steel and bone transducers, 3m x 3m x 3m, 2018

En: I’m not sure how best to approach it, though I’m instructed, Kneel, and raise your elbows, position them on the coin-shaped recesses of the cube you’ve fallen before, press your palms against your ears. It’s a commonplace to vaunt art’s power to prostrate us; rarer, in my experience, for an installation to bring us to our knees. Cubes in the gallery—arranged as mirrors, or cast in hot-rolled steel, six foot by six foot—were used by mid-century minimalists (Robert Morris, Tony Smith) to play our bodies back to us, whether glanced in glass, or figured in the dimensions of oiled metal.

This feels different; not only because I can almost rest my cheek on steel, not only because I am urged to touch. The cube is tilted, sliced away so as to seem part-sunk into the floor; lanced through with harpoon-axes (marking x , y , z ). Leaning forward in this elbow-embrace, with the room’s sounds muffled, my body is made conduit, a message channelled through my bones.

Between my palms, through my skull, icebergs scrape the ocean floor, volcanoes burble underwater; another world, alien, inscrutable, sounds closed within this frame. An epicentre is not the focus or fulcrum of activity, but above it; the point on the earth’s surface under which the ground shivers. ‘Epicentre’ decentres us: it makes the origin, the zero-point—where x , y , z meet at O — unreachable, unknowable; the cube’s slant sets us and our world off-kilter. We are held outside, fixed to an edge; the work asks us to lean, to fall, so it might enter us instead.

Kit Webb

Fr: Epicentre (2018) est une installation sonore composée d’acier, de transducteurs osseux et de sons inexpliqués, issus d’une collection appartenant au NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

“Je ne suis pas sûr de la meilleure façon de l’approcher, bien qu’on me l’ait dit: agenouille-toi, et lève les coudes, positionne-les sur les cavités en forme de pièce du cube devant lequel tu es tombé, appuie tes paumes contre tes oreilles. C’est un lieu commun de vanter le pouvoir de l’art de nous prosterner; plus rare, d’après mon expérience, qu’une installation nous mette à genoux. Je peux presque reposer ma joue sur l’acier. Le cube est incliné, tranché de façon à paraître enfoncé dans le sol; traversé d’axes qui le harponnent (marquant  x , y , z). Dans cette étreinte, penché vers l’avant, mon corps est fait conduit  ; le son, canalisé à travers mes os. Entre mes mains, mon crâne, les icebergs râclent le fond marin. Un autre monde, alien, insondable, est contenu au sein de cette boîte noire (black box). Un épicentre n’est pas le foyer ou le pivot de l’activité, mais au-dessus, le point à la surface de la terre sous lequel le sol tremble. « Epicentre » nous décentre : il rend l’origine, le point zéro — où x , y , z se rencontrent à O — inaccessible, inconnaissable ; l’inclinaison du cube nous met, nous et notre monde, hors-jeu. Nous sommes tenus au dehors, fixés au bord ; l’œuvre nous demande de nous pencher, de tomber, pour qu’elle puisse à son tour entrer en nous.”

Kit Webb

Research around "Epicentre"

Postcard/instruction, Epicentre, digital drawing, 2018

Black Boxes, Series of three pencil drawings, A3 (each), 2017
Black Box, etching, A3, 2017
Micro-Worlds, etching and aquatinte, A3, 2017



Special thanks to Ian Whittaker for the welding!

Intervalle Arrêté, charcoal on paper, 10m x 1.50m, 2016

Inspired from the mathematical notion interval, Intervalle Arrêté is an attempt to witness the time of drawing within a given frame.

Intervalle Arrêté, detail, 2016
Intervalle Arrêté, process  2016

Shirt of Serendipity, charcoal imprint, on paper, 2.10 m x 2.60 m, 2015

Detail, 2015.
Research, moment of serendipity at the studio, charcoal rubbing on paper, 2015.
Pattern making, 2015.
Rubbing reveal, 2015.

Imago, Installation, charcoal on paper, 1.74 m x 2.7 m each, 2014

Pareidolia, Installation, charcoal on paper, 17.50 m x 2.60 m, 2014

“Pareidolia” is a 17 meter long installation of charcoal drawings which explore the notion of pareidolia which the tendency for the incorrect interpretation of a stimulus as an object or pattern known to the observer (such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in nature or abstract patterns).

Pareidolia, Installation, charcoal on paper, 17.50 m x 2.60 m, 2014
Exhibition in Halles USEGO, Sierre (CH), 2014.
D'un monde à l'autre, Halles de Porrentruy, 2015.

Root I, Installation, pencil drawing, A4, 2014

Root II, pencil drawing, A4, 2014

Leaves, pencil drawing, A4, 2014

Paumes,  pencil drawings, A4, 2014

Facing Mathilde Heu’s series of drawn palms—slivers of her right hand; her fingers, wrist, the ball of her thumb cropped by the white of the page—figured from one angle and then another and another,I try to think about what’s revealed in this reiteration. Heu isn’t, I think, looking to them for meaning(not that they’d yield it), isn’t searching for something in them, isn’t “digging” towards some profundity.Instead—and this seems to me a common move in her practice—she trains in on the small, the close at hand, and then returns to it, aware of each approach’s contingency, its glancing of significance. Her interest is as much in the texture of these surfaces as it is in the affects of attention—what happens,what’s felt, when you return and repeat, through the hours spent in detail?

Forms appear, she writes of the process of drawing the palms: wings, leaves, flints.

Kit Webb

Palms, pencil drawing, A4, 2014.
Palms, exhibition "A Dance of Scale", London (UK), 2019.
Paumes,  ceramics, 2014.

Girls just wanna, Sound Installation, apples piezzos and amplifier, 2015

Girls Just Wanna is a sound installation where a number of apples connected to an amplifier produce a discrete sound of female voices chatting, singing or murmuring. Each apple contains a piezo through which the sound is heard. Passers by are invited to kneel and listen to stories relating the desire to devour and be devoured by the loved one.    

In collaboration with Sofia Kouloukouri / Julie Magnenat and Amandine Vaccaielli.

Photos: Rudy Decelière

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