Jean-Jacques Delfour

In the Jardin de l'Evêché, in the "19 heures" programme, we have seen Olga de Soto in a solo, "Murmurs". Lying down first on the grass, she slowly enters on stage. Then begins the rustle of the oboe, intermittently, dissociated in loud orangey slices. The dancer is barefooted, dressed in a full and simple dress, without belt or clasps. Her gestures are slow, sometimes almost stiff; at times she is tight as an arc, with a finger obliquely stretched towards the sky. All this would be banal if there were not a sharp intensity, which is not only due to the tense indolence of the dancer and the arrogance of the oboe. Where does it come from? From what the body murmurs. Olga de Soto, under or in her dress, seems naked. And what there is to "see" is the babbling of her naked body, the whispering of her nudity, the mumbling of her skin and her muscles. One will object that the dancer is dressed. No doubt, if one wants to believe that nudity is only a visible physical state of a body lacking clothes. But nudity in art is something else, an attitude, an atmosphere, a suggestion, an artistic fact created by aesthetic means.

That is what happens here, where the body of the dancer draws itself obscurely under the dress whose fullness hides the precise movements, underlining only moments where the skin and the cloth brush. Thus, we are led to follow flesh and body through the material's screen. This nakedness, then, is choreographic, aesthetic, without a direct visual basis. Olga de Soto, commenting on this solo, is clear: "I cannot be more naked!" More naked, this would be the intimate nakedness of love. Here, the nudity is suggested, not only through the pleats of the dress, of which Clérambault, Lacan's teacher, underlined the eroticism, but especially through the slow gestures by which the muscles flex; it is not just the covering that suggests nudity, but the concentrated slowness, the effort, the application put on each gesture, on each extension, as if something of capital importance depended on it.

This evocation is all the more suggestive since the mind is shared between the imagination of the naked body under the clothes and the de-erotisation of the performance, which is the combined effect of the music and the conscience of the representation. The eros is not absent; it becomes platonic. The love of beautiful bodies becomes love of beauty, the flesh is aestheticised in this impenetrable ritual.

Jean-Jacques Delfour, Vêtue de nu, CASSANDRE: Culture(s), Politique(s) et Société(s) No. 18 (FR), September-October 1997