The show was designed for the 14th edition of the documenta, held in 2017 between the cities of Kassel, home of the contemporary art exhibition, and Athens. Based on the themes raised by the exhibition – the decentralization of art, the concepts of centre and periphery, the role of the artist in a world in conflict -, the French Phia Ménard reflects on the identity and problems of Europe today, drawing a parallel between two cities: the German Kassel, in the European “rich north”, and the Greek Athens, immersed in crises. Onstage, dressed as a futuristic Greek goddess, she begins to build a structure made entirely of cardboard, simple and fragile. It goes back to the Marshall Plan (which intended to rebuild post-war Europe), making repetitive and robotic gestures in this effort to create a home for the continent and its homeless, its refugees.
French Phia Ménard studied modern dance, mime, acting and juggling. In 1998, along with Le Grain, she founded the Non Nova group, which seeks a new way of juggling through the scenic and dramaturgical structure, and focuses on multidisciplinary works, with artists from different backgrounds. The project ICE. – Injonglabilité Complémentaire des Eléments, a research on the transformation, erosion and sublimation of materials, projected Ménard’s career in a new way, especially with P.P.P. (Position Parallèle au Plancher) staging, in 2008, in which she used ice as the element. The metamorphosis seen in the show became a symbol of her sexual transition, which occurred at the same time. After that, she toured with L’Après-Midi d’un Foehn and Vortex becoming an important voice on gender issues. In 2014, she received the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) from the French government and, in the following year, became an associate artist at the Théâtre Nouvelle GénéraYon – Centre DramaYque NaYonal Lyon and the Centre Chorégraphique NaYonal de Caen / Basse-Normandie. In 2017, Immoral Tales – Part 1: Mother House debuted in documenta 14. The project foresees two other parts, Temple Père (Father Temple) and La Rencontre Interdite (The Forbidden Encounter).
Phia Ménard’s whole brilliance, the architect of this work for the living body, is to keep distance from the spectacular without saving on the gesture. Casa Mãe is perhaps a crucial work in Ménard’s path, a militant and political act. A shout. Europe thus glorified in its rubble (re) turns into a possible horizon (…) Mother House is a modern tale.
PHILIPPE NOISETTE, Les Inrockuptibles
Fortunately, Phia Ménard’s sentences happen only in the presentation text, not in the play itself. Because all the beauty of this Mother House consists of seeing the artist in a queer warrior costume, miserable Athena, handling the set without knowing if she takes care of it or mistreats it (nor if the house protects or enclosures her): let images and time tell us. It leaves us completely free to decide whether these images evoke the construction-destruction of Europe, that of patriarchy or the way in which these two issues are linked.
ÈVE BEAUVALLET, Libération
DRAMATURGY AND STAGE DIRECTION: Phia Ménard e Jean-Luc Beaujault
PERFORMANCE AND SCENOGRAPHY: Phia Ménard
MUSIC AND SOUND SPACE: Ivan Roussel
STAGE MANAGERS: Jean-luc Beaujault, Pierre Blanchet e Rodolphe Thibaud
COSTUMES: Fabrice Ilia Leroy
TECHNICAL MANAGER: Olivier Gicquiaud
CO-DIRECTOR, PRODUCTION AND ADMINISTRATION: Claire Massonnet
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Clarisse Mérot
PUBLIC RELATIONS: Adrien Poulard
ASSISTANT TOURING COORDINATOR: Lara Cortesi
EXECUTIVE PRODUCTION: Compagnie Non Nova
COPRODUCTION: documenta 14 – Kassel and Le Carré, Scène naYonale et Centre d’Art contemporain of Château-GonYer
Non Nova is subsidised by the French Ministry of Culture and CommunicaYon – DRAC des Pays de la Loire, Nantes City Council, the Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire, the Conseil Départemental de Loire-AtlanYque, the InsYtut Français (France’s internaYonal cultural relaYons body) and the BNP Paribas FoundaYon.
The company is based in Nantes. The company Non Nova / Phia Ménard is currently associated arYst at Malraux scène naYonale Chambery Savoie, and the «TNB, Centre Européen Théâtral et Chorégraphique de Rennes ».
The project “Mother House” has received a special support from the InsYtut Français and the City of Nantes.