Sweet Idol, performance, 10 min, 2019
Production Palais de Tokyo
Invited by the Palais de Tokyo on the occasion of a banquet, where performances are presented as appetizers, Violaine Lochu makes fun of the situation by taking the expression at face value. Scheduled for desert, she becomes an enjoyable sweet, her face covered in pomegranate seeds, dressed like a wedding cake with a special device hidden up her sleeve that allows her to distribute whipped cream at will.
Her hybrid, jester-like figure is a Clown, a Cyborg and a Drag Queen all at once, such as one may find among the characters of Fellini and Rabelais, playing on the ambiguity between what is appetizing and what is disturbing.
Dressed in a tight pair of shorts and perched on frightfully high heels, Sweet Idol is a decadent spouse, a birthday strip-teaser, a monster with a shaven head and red-scaled skin.
She strolls about amidst the guests, uttering sounds between Italian operatic lyric singing and animal sounds. She throws grenades (either weapons or fruit, difficult to tell) that explode among the guests, and she covers the faces of several spectators with whipped cream, in a gesture that is quite similar to pie attacks. This spectacular performance seems to float constantly between entertainment – the roar laughter of people joining in, expressing acceptance, embarrassment, mockery and unease – and the satirical, derisory attack. The weapons are inoffensive here, like jokes and hoaxes.
Inoffensive? That remains to be seen, because satire always represents danger for the court jester. Sweet Idol questions the ambiguous complexity of this type of context and situation for artists: their fear of being reduced to entertaining objects may degenerate into anger, or rejection of the institution they depend on, nevertheless, symbolically and economically. Sweet Idol questions the relationships of power between artists, curators and the public. By pieing the faces of the guests and throwing grenades, Sweet Idol enacts a hierarchal shift, and, behind the game of appearances, poses a political question: who dominates whom?