Michel Houellebecq performed with electronic music at the Printemps de Bourges

The author presented his show “Existence at low altitude” at the Printemps de Bourges. A reading of his poems surrounded by three narrators and a DJ.

Hallucinated visions and hypnotic rhythm: the writer Michel Houellebecq recited his poems on Wednesday against a background of electronic music in a medieval palace, a UFO show of which the Printemps de Bourges has the secret.

Some 120 people flocked to the banquet hall of the Palais Jacques Coeur, a 15th-century building, for this performance of the show. existence at low altitude. The writer, probably the most influential of his generation, had surrounded himself with three fellow storytellers. He waited a good quarter of an hour, sitting in profile on a small stage, while his audience settled in, while the electro of DJ and producer Traumer intensified.

Then his accomplices began to take turns reciting the poems before the writer launched, his voice dull and monotonous: “My existence is in your hands / I’m not really human / I would like a turbulent existence / An existence like a pond” (from Show yourself, my friend, my double).

“Read by the Master”

The staging is minimalist. During the one-hour show, the novelist will get up, in front of the monumental fireplace, to approach a microphone on foot and deliver his texts when his turn comes. His deliciously awkward postures are there, like when he slightly tucks his head into her crooked shoulders or puts his index finger to his lower lip.

For the texts, we are in their place, between the morbid wandering, the decrepitude of the couple or the brackish tertiary. The music goes from floating electro to more martial rhythms to represent the movement of a train (poem “the TGV Atlantique slipped through the night with terrifying efficiency”).

The sound architect Traumer, at the back of the room, unfolds his soundtrack, punctuating the stanzas with melancholy strings or disturbing brass. The show has its fans:

“Je suis très émue, très touchée, sa poésie, ce sont mes livres de chevet, et là, lue par le maître lui-même, c’est assez extraordinaire”, confides to l’AFP Anne-Laure, 51 years old, inhabitant region of.

Others are more doubtful. “It was interesting, good in general, but the musical effects are quite repetitive,” says Xavier, 25, who came with friends from Paris. the author of the possibility of an island he had already performed in 2000 in Bourges with Bertrand Burgalat (renowned artist/producer) and his musicians, as an extension of a necessarily unusual beach tour.

“Pretty liturgical”

This time, it all started with a young fan, Victorien Bornéat, who became the creator and co-director of the show. In 2019, the latter created a podcast, asking his “friends to choose a Houellebecq poem” before recording them.

“It was a little thing in my room that didn’t mean to echo outside my circle of friends,” he told AFP. Then comes the idea of ​​”doing public readings in a nightclub, a place that echoes certain works by Michel Houellebecq, such as Expansion of the fighting field.

When he comments on it to the writer for rights issues, “the discussion begins and there he says that he wants to get back on stage.” Therefore, an early version of the show was presented last winter at the Rex Club in Paris:

“A lot of people told us at the Rex Club that it was quite liturgical, we tried to further support this dimension for the Palais Jacques Coeur banquet hall and its 15th century architecture,” adds the creator.

“The interesting thing about working with Houellebecq is his way of inviting people to read his poems: he doesn’t like it to be said with a lot of emphasis,” he says.

  • Add Your Comment