Zon-mai is a gigantic multi-media installation by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Gilles Delmas. At the crossroads between architecture, 3 D art, and dance, this astounding piece mixes media and disciplines to tackle issues such as otherness, identity, territory and borders...

Expressing “home”

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Gilles Delmas accost 21 artists from different countries with the question of “home”. All the dancers gathered here have been confronted, at one time in their life, with the question of migration and displacement. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui questions them on what “home” means, and on the desire to build a home somewhere within the community of men. He does so by filming them in the privacy of their homes.

The building housing and welcoming this reflection is a parabola: the Zon-Mai is a house, but inside out. A house with no doors nor windows; a house whose walls and roof become screens showing films – films that introduce the viewer to the private worlds of its “inhabitants’”. The viewer is invited to look at the people, the dancers, inside their house, from outside the Zon-mai, without entering the house.

Showing human diversity

The performers dance (in Paris, London and in a dozen other European cities) in their bedrooms, their kitchens, their bathrooms or their living rooms. The videos are a succession of moments, of simple movements that capture fragments of dance and represent everyday life situations … They are broken down in sequences which constitute open windows into the private world of each participant.

Hence, not only does the audience see people at home, but it witnesses a “state of mind” embodied in the diversity of all those people living in the house. Each dancer chosen by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Gilles Delmas bears a life experience and influences. They all express a message through their body. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s choreography orchestrates these different visions of the world and conveys the artists’ message: to show human plurality through the diversity of choreographic writings; to unveil the links, the existing bridges. “La Zon-mai embodies a certain reflection on the world.” (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui)

An installation in motion

Nomadic, the Zon-mai moves from place to place, functioning, in a way, as the ambassador of the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration, the institution that commissionned the work. The Zon-mai was inaugurated at the Condition publique, in Roubaix, where it started its journey.

The Zon-mai at the Condition Publique

Roubaix © Awatef Chengal

Video - Making-of the Zon-Mai

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avril 2007 // ROUBAIX © Marc Boyer LARDUX FILMS