How can one know in such darkness?
Myriam Lefkowitz

Objects, textures and materials guide the path for a collective slumber. In the dark, it is the sheer materiality of life that emerges — porous, formless, boundless. Vision is cast aside as the privileged mode of knowledge apprehension in the West, awakening the whole body as an instrument, a channel, an antenna. Recalling us of the materiality of life How can one know in such darkness? bridges the artificial and dominant opposition between body and mind, outside and inside. In slumber, the outside becomes inside, the inside, out, the body, the mind and the skin, our eyes. Unschooling the body-mind, Myriam Lefkowitz’s practice is a radical statement on the animate reality of the world that surround us or in the words of Brazilian psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik an awakening of ‘the body that knows’. Her sensorial practice is presented here through accounts shared by users of How can one know in such darkness?. The transformation of these accounts into moving images holds onto the materiality and embodiment that characterises her practice, here made words, memories, traces, lines — life lines towards a living cinema without stable subjects nor authors, a body cinema.

Ana Vaz

“How can one know in such darkness?”
a sensorial practice created in 2015 (Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers), active ever since

In collaboration with the artists, performers Jean Philippe Derail, Ghyslaine Gau, Thierry Grapotte, Catalina Insignares, Julie Laporte, Florian Richaud, Yasmine Youcef.

One person is welcomed by one performer. She is invited to lie down on a mattress placed at the centre of a theatre stage. Around the mattress, on the floor, one can see several blankets, pillows, different kinds of cloth, a table, on the table a stone – objects of different volumes, weight, temperature… Once the person has laid down, the performer switches off the light.

During the 45 minutes that the experience lasts, the performer will activate the present objects and materials which will come in contact (through sound or touch) with the lying body. The person will hardly notice the performer’s presence; nor will s/he fully recognise his/her gestures, his/her movements. Only the ‘inanimate’ elements in space will be experienced as being animate. A blurriness seeps into the mind around what one feels, imagines, recalls, thinks: a strange mixture of sleep and wakefulness where a different regime of images appears.

image credits: Jean Philippe Derail, 2018, La Galerie, Noisy-le-Sec

“How can one know in such darkness?  – a notebook-2018”

Following the experience, a few hundred people have reported on what they had sensed, heard, felt, thought, remembered, imagined. Fictions of bodies and spaces appeared. Those reports have been collected and edited together into one single narrative: one line or a minimal motif associated with a short sentence. The aim was to extract the dynamic which characterised those reports. The furtive movement of a sensation, of an image, of a thought. A continuous and quick flow which doesn’t seem to have the time to fix itself.
This aspect of the practice consists in sharing the fairy tale that recomposes itself collectively through the solitary experience of this particular modality of attention. This video proposes a way to question the imaginary activity when it’s being produced by increased sensorial stimulations :could imagining and perceiving become one single activity ?

drawings/writings: Myriam Lefkowitz
video : Simon Ripoll Hurier

Myriam Lefkowitz is a performance artist, born in 1980 , based in Paris. Since 2010, her research is focused on questions of attention and perception. Research which she is developing through different immersive devices involving a direct encounter between spectators and performers. Her work has been presented at, The Venice Biennale (Lithuanien and Cyprus Pavillon), the MOT (Tokyo), De Apple (Amsterdam), Le Nouveau Festival (Centre Pompidou), The Bergen Triennal, La Ferme du Buisson, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, The Kadist Foundation… In 2011, she took part in the master of experimentation in Art and Politics (SPEAP, Science Po Paris) founded by Bruno Latour. She becomes a tutor in the program in 2013. In 2018 she was invited by If I Can’t Cance I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution (Amsterdam). She is currently working on a film in collaboration with the artist Simon Ripoll Hurier, teaching at Talm Angers (a school of art and design) and is pursuing her research in the context of  la facultad, a long term project conceived with the performing artist Catalina Insignares in collaboration with the performer and dancer Julie Laporte – a project taking place in the Chum (an Emmaus shelter in Ivry for people in situation of exil and migration) supporter by the art center Bétonsalon.