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Cezanne, rocks view


This is the second part of an extraordinary conversation I had with Antoine Le Menestrel about the art of rock climbing:

Ivo: Adventure is intimately linked to exploration. With your artistic company Lézards Bleus, you are exploring the artistic and poetic side of climbing.

Antoine: I like the explorer term. Just like in rock climbing, I tried to open new routes, in spectacles, I'm opening poetic routes on urban facades. I dance on incongruous structures such as cartons, using the gutters, the screws in the wall. Someone can close the windows on my fingers, a dog can arrive on the balcony. I'm like in a wild world. I open dreams among spectators.

Ivo: Your dance on the walls of the buildings seem to be an exploring activity, you're exploring the architecture with fresh eyes.
Antoine: My adventure is experienced in situ in front of the public, I climb and I tell my story. There are not two steps: the adventure and then, the descent into the valley to tell the story with a book or a movie. I design artistic expeditions in which the show becomes the top of the mountain. I do not change, the world is changing my outlook on the world. I love the freshness of the first glance. I am what I do.

Ivo: Are you also exploring the human condition?
Antoine: I explore the mythology of height. The vertical is constitutive of our civilization, the language, religion, social hierarchy ... Many of our heroes and superheroes are from the heights. Our civilization is built on a vertical axis. It associate : summit and good, ground and bad. The progress, the growth and the powerful is associated with good and this mythology give power to justify our inhumane acts. We acquired a consciousness when we get down of the tree. the ascent is time of effort, to come back down is the time of consciousness. Every climber know that the summit is inhuman, unlivable. We can climb and we must come down. If not we will fall..

Ivo: The danger is sometimes fascinating. Your urban adventures sometimes become dangerous?

Antoine: An adventure is sometimes dangerous, risky. I take risks to achieve my dreams. My climbing career and dancer is related to risk. Initially, while climbing for shows, I took risks, sometimes reckless, just to satisfy my ego. Today, I accept the risk if it is not indecent to my life. I want to reveal the fragility of life. I campaigned to be responsible of my own risk without releasing it on others. I'm also the drunk of the heights, I'm falling in the hight.

Ivo: What is the relationship between your shows and the environment, architecture, the public?
Antoine: Sometimes I choose the facade, sometimes is the facade who chooses me, sometimes the organizer chooses for me.
Each show is a new creation. The choice of the facade is based on the theme of the event, the financial conditions and my imagination. I have several shows in the repertoire of company Blues Lizards.
The show "Service to every floors": this show is thought for monuments and inaugurations, is highly symbolic. My eyes on the audience are global.
The show "The Magnet": interact with the inhabitants of the buildings by the staging of private space windows and balconies. My eyes are intimate and accomplice with the audience.
The show "Your Money or Your Life": narrate about heroes of the heights, like spiderman, christ, statue of liberty, my eyes are interrogative or they are blind.
For sure, I still have unfulfilled dreams of facades like the Cathedral of Trieste, the Opera Comique in Paris, the Romeo and Juliet balcony in Verona, the theater Monaie Brussels to play on the opera La Muette, to connect a bell tower and a minaret ...

Ivo: Architecture is my profession and I am convinced that this practice has profoundly influenced my way of climbing. It made me realize how important it is to interact with the environment without damaging it, how you can be creative even in things that now seem predetermined. But it is also true that, in architecture I brought the adventurous approach of climbing. So when I talk about climbing in fact sometimes I talk about architecture, and when I'm talking about architecture actually I'm talking about climbing. I am sure that your dance has influenced the way you approach the rock, that art has profoundly changed your climbing.

Antoine: On urban facades I find a sense of virginity and wild universe, that human beings have not touched for decades. I love traveling as a little prince who does not live in these places. Art has deeply influenced my climbing because my movement is no longer just longing for a success, suffering or efficiency but for poetic images. I'm looking for a human scale. I've need 20 years to go from a climber to an artist. Today I can climb in shows and dance in climbing. Ivo thank you, I do not know you yet, but when I read your texts they give me energy to write these words for this manifest of poetic climbing so that each climber can have its unique signature in rock climbing.