The Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection presents a brand-new performance, a production that brings together French artists Low Jack, composer and director of the project, and Lala &ce, composer and rapper, with Argentinean choreographer Cecilia Bengolea. Baiser Mortel, or “The Kiss of Death”, is an original work that blends ballet, urban folklore, and sound art, taking its cues from musicals, theatrical dance, and soap operas.
Mitchell Leisen’s 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday, in which Death decides to spend three days among the living, served as inspiration for the writing of the show Baiser Mortel. Rapper Lala &ce plays the main role of Death, whom the audience follows on her spiritual and romantic quests, somewhere between adventure, rivalries, desire, and rejection. Lala &ce is joined on stage by Jäde, Rad Cartier, BabySolo33, and Le Diouck, along with the dancers Craig Black Eagle, Katrin Wow, and Elodie Chan. Stylist Marine Serre created the costumes for all the dancers and rappers in this musical.
Recorded at the recording studios at La Place – Centre Culturel Hip Hop in Paris, the original soundtrack for Baiser Mortel will be released by Berlin music label PAN in 2022.
“Lala &ce and I initially envisioned a sound fiction in 2019. But then, the project underwent its first genetic mutation in 2020 when Cyrus Goberville introduced me to Cecilia Bengolea. All three of us worked towards a show that would combine music, theatre, and dance. Baiser Mortel deals with the theme of Death and its representation, but in way that consciously diverges from Western representations of this subject. This project expresses my attraction to an artistic practice that stretches across various disciplines, and it is the fruit of my ongoing research into acculturation and identity – how it is defined, sought, and understood, and what is also tragicomic about it. Over a good many years now, I have also become somewhat obsessed with movie musicals. I am fascinated by the false triviality they express.”
“When people ask me what it’s like to play death, I would say that it makes me want to live. Most of all, Baiser Mortel asks us to consider that particular moment when we realize how much we care about someone at the very same time that we understand that we have to let go of them”.
“For this musical, loosely inspired by Death Takes a Holiday, I invited dancehall dancers Craig Black Eagle and Katrin Wow and the contortionist Elodie Chan to play the rappers’ lovers and states of mind. Baiser Mortel has moments that are deep and heavy, and others that are lighter. There are varying degrees of closeness in the relationship between rappers and dancers; sometimes they simply reflect their shadows, but at others, they occupy more space in the story”.
“It is a collaborative project initiated by my friend Cyrus. It was essential for me to go deep in understanding all the artists that are part of this project – Low Jack, Cecilia, Lala and so forth. Through the garments, I tried to empower both the person and the character to remain truthful to their vision”.
“When death comes down to earth, what does the sky have left to fear?”
With this couplet in Baiser Mortel, Lala &ce’s utterance announces the intrigue of this performance, hybrid both in its form and content. She plays death who has come “for a taste of life”. Beneath this reinterpretation of a danse macabre lies a sensual carnival in which the chilling allegory of death is contaminated by the humanity and wealth of its sentiments.
In a limbolike space, smoke has poured into the museum basement and glows of colour reveal spectral figures. Their dance tells us that we have left the realm of the vernacular. The barriers between the disciplines have been breached, the language is cryptic, and the music is continuous, consisting of echoes and sounds that remain far off and crude—or have they been distorted? The characters “are all looking for something”, but they ultimately remain satellites revolving around death, who evolves as she comes into contact with them. Death does not impart its kiss; instead, it receives it.
Philippe Hallais is a French composer of electronic musique born in 1985 in Tegucigalpa in Honduras and living in Paris. Since 2014, he has been co-directing Editions Gravats / Les Disques De La Bretagne with Jean Carval. His music plays on the use of sound clichés, media folklores, and is inspired by the multiplicity of musi-cal languages associated with underground subcultures. He has made six albums, five of which are under the pseudonym Low Jack Garifuna Variations (L.I.E.S., 2014); Sewing Machine (In Paradisum, 2015); Lighthouse Stories (Modern Love, 2016); Riddims du Lieu-dit (Editions Gravats, 2018); Jingles du Lieu-dit (Editions Gravats, 2019) and another under his real name An American Hero (Modern Love, 2017). He has in par-ticular received commissions from the Ina GRM, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Fondation Ricard in Paris and the Société des Arts in Geneva.
Born in 1994 in France, before moving to London in 2017, Lala &ce produced her first solo project, Le son d’après, in July 2019. As an avant-gardist, LGBT icon and figure of female empower-ment in the French rap milieu, her nonchalant phrasing accompanies immaculate productions. Her first album, Everything Tasteful, which came out this year, navigates between cloud rap, R’n’B, trap and afrobeat.
Cecilia Bengolea (born in 1979 in Argentina) is the choreographer of Kiss of Death. She is also responsible for the stage direction of the musi-cal, in collaboration with Low Jack. Cécilia Bengolea trained in urban dance, continued her studies of anthropological dance, then took a course at the Centre Chorégra-phique of Montpellier in 2004, where she honed her contemporary dance practice. She sees dance as “ani-mated sculptures” and has often worked with contemporary artists.
Marine Serre’s critically acclaimed collections have garnered a cult following. A completely new, radically independent brand has emerged with a hybrid mixture of classic French couture shapes, sportswear references and fabrics. Driven by a critical Ecofuturist approach, the brand pioneers new garments production based on end-of-life materials, a prac-tice labeled as Regenerated that since Marine Serre’s debut collection in 2016 has been fundamental to her ethos. The Regenerating practice marks a radical commitment to cir-cularity in the fashion industry’s networks, encompassing the sour-cing of fabrics, the design process, and the production of the collections. This all to the background of a colli-ding mix of cultural and epochal references, promoting and experi-menting with the invention of new cultures, a new mode, a new way to be.
An original work by Low Jack, Lala &ce, and Cecilia Bengolea
with Le Diouck, Jäde, BabySolo33, and Rad Cartier
Accompanied by Craig Black Eagle, Katrin Wow, and Elodie Chan
Costumes by Marine Serre
Based on a proposal by Cyrus Goberville
Artistic Direction by Bill Kouligas and Oriana Bekka
Mixing by Rodolphe Malo
Photography by Sam Clarke
Text by Timothée Peignier