A tribute to Balthus and Artaud



Josef Nadj



Lionel About, Jean Babilée, Guillaume Bertrand, Damien Fournier, Jing Li, Yoshi Oïda and then Josef Nadj, Ali Tahbet


Choregraphy assistant

Mariko Aoyama


Sound design

Alain Mahé



Rémi Nicolas



Michel Tardif



Christophe Mureau, Tirésias Mercier



Esther Zeller



Jacqueline Bosson



Catherine Poulain, Michel Racoillet



Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne E.T.E., Théâtre de la Ville – Paris, Berliner Festwochen



Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne E.T.E., may 2003

In the fall of 2000, I had the opportunity, with my friend the poet Otto Tolnaï, to visit Balthus in his chalet in Switzerland. We spent a while in his workshop, where I was able to take a few pictures of him. Otto Tolnaï kept asking questions about Rilke and René Char, but I wanted to ask him about Artaud. And as if he’d foreseen my question, rolling his eyes upwards and smiling, he started speaking about his dear friend: “Very few people know that he fell violently down the stairs and hit his head very hard, and that his manifesto on the Theatre of Cruelty was written shortly after that.”


A few months later, shortly before he died, I went to see him again, with Michel Archimbaud. I wanted to take a few pictures of him and his cat, but he was already very tired at this point, and after lunch he retired to his room. But as he was leaving, he turned towards me and said: “Josef, don’t forget my friend Artaud, very important…”

Coming out of his house, I started taking pictures of the house’s facade when I saw, on the doormat in front of the entrance, a horse’s head. I took a picture of it.

When I came back to France, I bought Artaud’s complete works and embarked upon reading them, starting with the 26th and final volume. On page 23, I came across this sentence: “So that I, Artaud, feel that I am a horse and not a man.” From this moment on, like a taut line between Balthus’ painting and Artaud’s poetry, I revisit Rilke, Tsoeing Tseu, Japan, Italy, Ireland … I connect those spaces like a spider, weaving a maze within which the performance is born.

History :


19 octobre – 21 novembre 2004

New Vision Arts Festival

Hong Kong


27 janvier 2004

Salle Louis Guiloux de la Passerelle

Saint-Brieuc (FR)


4 décembre 2003

Théâtre de Bourg-en-Bresse

Bourg-en-Bresse (FR)


6 décembre 2003

Comédie de Valence

Valence (FR)


4-15 novembre 2003

Théâtre de la Ville

Paris (FR)


9-11 octobre 2003

Théâtre national de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées

Toulouse (FR)