Parler de loin ou bien se taire
(At distance speak, or hold your tongue)

text by Éva Prouteau

Le Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire

Feb 2 – April 21, 2019 

Share on:

As soon as man uses language to establish a living relationship with himself or with his peers, language is no longer an instrument, no longer a means; it is a manifestation, a revelation of our most intimate essence, and of the psychological link that binds us to ourselves and to our peers.

Walter Benjamin

Anne Le Troter's exhibitions appear as sonic investigations, dedicated to projecting oral forms. The collected vocal material that she sculpts or reinterprets often turns out to be surprising; within it, the body is omnipresent, caught up in the semantic prism of different professional fields as if crystallising a zone of resistance to be said.

The artist collects sociolects, the dialects specific to a social class or a professional group: jargons that are sometimes useful for a sense of identity, but may also be used as a way to exclude. Managerial and corporate language, medical or paramedical terminology, the standardised voices of telephone researchers: all so many technical languages that give Anne Le Troter an opportunity to address the body in its material dimension, and to measure the authoritarian hold of a language over its object.


The artist is also interested in idiolects, language-use peculiar to a given individual or a very small group, like the idioglossia that she created with her sisters as a self- sufficient speech cementing their complicity. Through these different sources, Anne Le Troter seems to ask herself questions about a notion that is both poetic and political: how, in the crucible of language, could the contemporary body express itself without becoming either collectivised or instrumentalised?

To give a form to her sound pieces, the artist collects, cuts up, and assembles in a highly elaborate compositional process. According to different procedures, she also includes recordings of her own voice, or speech actors. Anne Le Troter highlights the intensity of the presence of particular elements in a composed block of speech:she avoids the superfluous, prunes the links of syntax, captures variations within repetition, reveals the structural mechanism of language. She is also very attentive towards inter-subjectivity in language and to linguistic sociability, and she willingly includes the symptoms of the speaker's emotions:

In this sense, she follows in the wake of pragmatic linguists like Benveniste or Goffman, who have intensely studied the appropriation by the speaker of the formal apparatus of language. The linguistic dimension that exists in the work of Anne Le Troter (interlocution, exchange between transmitter and receiver, sender/recipient, encoder/decoder) should not however overshadow the considerable musical quality of her compositions: in them, the plurality of voices of a single individual and the plurality of voices of a group are conveyed with a good deal of polyphonic delicacy, combined with a distribution of sound in space that reinforces the subtle effects of movement in the interactional murmuring, becoming combined melodies, rhythmic ensembles of individual vocal trajectories.

Anne Le Troter sets up simple listening structures to transmit the sound material, dividing the space, sometimes improving the acoustics, and making the spectators physically welcome. Carpet and seating is adapted to the specificity of the spaces occupied, so as to offer an experience at once open and focussed. Similarly, within her exhibitions the artist punctuates the thought processes at work in the sound piece with video sequences, without overwhelming the sound being diffused. The language is given some air by a number of filmed percussive parts (the rhythm of a drum kit, the sound of the keys of an electric piano).

Courtesy the artist and Le Grand Café – Centre d’art Contemporain, Saint-Nazaire
Photo by Marc Domage

LAYR, Vienna
High Art, Paris
Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand
Der Tank of the Art Institute, Basel
Lafayette Anticipations, Paris
Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon
JTT, New York
Édouard Montassut, Paris