Purple Art

[July 13 2016]

An interview with Loris Gréaud on his first feature film “Sculpt” starring Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Rampling, and Abel Ferrara

August 16th will see the first screenings of the  science fiction film Sculpt, the first feature by French artist Loris Gréaud. For the screenings LACMA’s Bing Theater will be reconfigured for only one audience member at a time.  In this immersive and unique environment, the viewer watches a man, about whom we know very little, who seems to be constantly developing the concept of what experiencing beauty, thought, or obsession can be. Purple spoke with Gréaud to discover more about his dystopian universe, his cast featuring Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Rampling, and Abel Ferrara, as well as his work with the late architect Claude Parent to map a mental architecture and his love of The Residents with whom he collaborated with to create the original soundtrack.

PurpleYvon Lambert states at the beginning of the Making Of that from one week to the other you are in a different location. So, where are you now?

Loris Gréaud — Even though I recently restarted traveling, I’m currently in a studio in a Parisian suburb working on the Sculpt post-production which in itself is a real adventure. There are few subtle nuances that make this adventure like color correcting to the precise color of the blood moon phenomenon recorded in the studio on September 28 , 2015.

PurpleThe film synopsis for Sculpt is very ambiguous. Can you describe in your own words the story of Sculpt?

Loris Gréaud — If the global story is complex, the film synopsis is simple. In Sculpt, we follow the thoughts of a man trying to make his path in a new world where obsessions are commercialized, produced, and collected. He is convinced he could enact the rules of this new order. Soon he discovers the violent and dystopian counterpoint and experiences the porosity of this market, that being the inner space, the economy as one single object and moment.

PurpleWhat is essential about Sculpt is that there is no ‘center’ but a constant periphery.

Loris Gréaud — It’s not the film, not the fiction inside the film, not the story in our reality, not the LACMA, not the distribution, not its destination and / or its mutation; it is actually all of it.

One of the first things you learn about art is ‘when you can turn around, it’s a sculpture’ but what about a story you could turn around and that could turn around you?

PurpleHow did the film Sculpt evolve from beginning to now?

Loris Gréaud — We started more than 3 years ago with an important film producer and major distributor to work today with hackers. The opposite would have been a great failure.

PurpleYour previous film The Snorks, starring Charlotte Rampling and David Lynch, took thirty-six months to make. How long did it take for you to make the film Sculpt.

Loris Gréaud — We filmed for 30 months. It was quite a journey.

PurpleCollaboration seems to a key element to your films. Sculpt stars Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Lonsdale, The Residents, Pascal Greggory, Abel Ferrara, Claude Parent, and Betty Catroux. It’s a brilliant eclectic mix of artists and actors. Can you tell us more about what you were looking for when you were casting this film and why you choose these individuals in particular?

Loris Gréaud — I never talk in terms of collaboration but more in spaces of discussions. It is always a specific discussion that will produce an image, an object, or a situation. They were each and all answering a precise question about the architecture of the project and the film itself. Also, they all have in common the ability to transcend their status of artist, filmmaker, architect, actor, musician, into real icons. This is an important statement.

PurpleThe film also stars Voodoo Queen Priestess Miriam Chamani, co-founder of the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple. What was your experience working with her?

Loris Gréaud — Working with Priestess Miriam Chamani is really intense; the Priestess has carefully followed whole project and its intentions. We had a long correspondence and many meetings before she gave her blessing. When she finally accepted, she was the only great keeper of the film’s master copy. We were all very grateful.

PurpleNeuroimaging Researchers were used for Sculpt. What were you looking for exactly and how did their findings affect your film?

Loris Gréaud — I “commissioned” my mentor, the great and legendary architect, Claude Parent (1923-2016) to design a ‘mental architecture’ with the idea of being able to visit this space in a semi-conscious state.

I had the Professor Mathieu Santin and Professor Cécile Galléa, neuroimaging researchers at ICM, scanning my brain in a powerful MRI machine to discover its activity and the electrical production while I was under influence. I had only the sound of the voice interpreting Claude Parent’s mental architecture for approximately 2 hours. Inside the film and the fiction, this very same work is commissioned and produced.

PurpleHow did you come to collaborate with The Residents on the soundtrack? They seem like such a fitting choice for the obscurity of Sculpt.

Loris Gréaud — I’ve always looked and listened to The Residents. Some ideas and concepts they’ve invented have been an important influence to me. One day as I had an aesthetic question to resolve. I went to Cryptic Corporation website (the business manager of the band) to find a contact, and eventually I read: “don’t call us, we’ll call you…”

When the first meeting occurred, it was an appointment in the backroom of a concert hall with a certain Mr. Rose. It all started there. We had very serious discussions on the project, but the most important and most obvious, which was that he was wearing a mask and a skeleton outfit. It ended up being Randy Rose, the lead singer. I never saw his face until than. Discussing seriously and professionally with a ‘fictional’ character has been determinant for the project but also more globally on the idea of resistance and pushing boundaries. Don’t forget, they started their works more than 45 years ago and kept the masks on. We’re not talking about Daft Punk here!

PurpleSculpt will be screened at LACMA who are also producers of the film. Will the film be somewhat permanently installed there?

Loris Gréaud — I’ve worked carefully to be certain nothing will be permanent with Sculpt. Nothing is for sale. Nothing is collectible. I’m under contract of producing a loosing machine, miming a Hollywood machine, transposing the globalized art market into something free that only and constantly looses money and can’t be bought.

It’s not a critique of the film industry neither the art market, but a gesture, something that has to be done, to make sense, only sense.

PurpleThe film will eventually be put on the black market with illegal screenings of the film worldwide. Why?

Loris Gréaud — The main goal has always been to try to make the film to mutate in our reality as one of the objects it was describing in its own fiction. I’m trying to orchestrate an auto-organization of its distribution, such as a rumor, to make it rare and available to everybody at the same.

PurpleWhat’s your relationship to the dark web?

Loris Gréaud — I didn’t know anything about the darknet when I started the project. I’ve only been told that the Internet had a hidden and invisible space and that it was absolutely untraceable. That it was a total free space that allows in the same movement the worst traffic and globalized exchange you could imagine. I thought this paradox was the best medium to administrate and broadcast part of the project.

PurpleYou are synonymous with constructing unique environments. Can you describe how the film will be installed at LACMA’s Bing Theatre? What do you want the viewer to experience?

Loris Gréaud — As the online trailer of the film is approaching the 700 000 views, LACMA has announced that the film will only be distributed in one theater (few kilometers from Hollywood studios) with only one seat. It’s a funnel dynamic.

For LACMA, the film and the reconfigured theater are becoming a strange ‘tête-à-tête’ (a conversation between two people). I like the idea of having a meeting with the project, and also that the film could somehow look at you.


Click here to watch The Making of Sculpt by Loris Gréaud

Film stills from Sculpt

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