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How to be Popular & Useless : Artist training at Jacques Lecoq

I returned home a few weeks ago.

I opened the door to my “art” room. Boxes of books in the centre. Paint stains on the white tiled floor. Canvases. Four enormous used canvases…my plan was to paint over them.

I said, “Right.” No one was there. I just needed to hear it.

I put all the books and the photos together. Looked for things and then realised I had already thrown them away. Grabbed the canvases – “I cant even afford the paint!”- dragged them downstairs (I am going to try and sell them on Gumtree for $5 each.) I spent an entire day re-ordering my past. I discovered a folder with “Jacques Lecoq” written on it. I pulled the leafs of the folder apart and found a short critique glued on the inside: “The Means Of Correct Training”…

“Foucault describes the way individuals are created and shaped as a result of living disciplinary mechanisms. Discipline used in these mechanisms is derived from the use of: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgement and examination processes (Foucault 1984:188)”

....Jacques Lecoq, standing in the Grand Salle as my peers pulled out benches from the side of the hall. Nervous chatter. Friday afternoon. Autocours. Glimpses of the professors through the paravons and railings up above as they make their way down the stairs. My shoulders – I could never tell if they were tense or where they were meant to be….

“Hierarchical observation relates to an apparatus in the training that allows certain eyes to see without being seen (Foucault 1984:189).”

Did I know I was going to have a crisis at Lecoq? I knew, I knew what I was getting myself into…

“Every institution has it’s own laws, specific offences and it’s particular judgements. These often refer to the “micropenality of time, of activity, of speech, of behaviour, of the body and of sexuality…where the indefinite domain of nonconforming is punishable” (Foucault 1984:194)

I stared at my lecturer’s feedback:

“Excellent critique and very thoughtful reflection.”

I wrote the critique whilst I was studying at Theatre Nepean. I was wary of letting an institution affect me. I was more of a "practising" Muslim. I was more accepting of my “Australiness” and ashamed of being too "Lebanese". I started drinking...but I stuck to my guns more.

A friend recorded me after I finished an examination at Lecoq. The professors were giving me feedback – I was just nodding....and nodding.....and nodding. Every other time in my life I have fought to have the freedom to disagree. There I gave over, I forgot I even had a choice.

Unlike any other time in my life, on a social level, I actually “FIT IN”.....I fit in. It had nothing to do with the work I did, the things I organised. I was popular or so people told me. My assumptions about "popularity" were true – it’s fleeting and it's has no importance to me.

For the first time in my life, I felt that I failed. I conformed. I hid behind the curtains, the general consensus, the professor’s feedback: unquestioning, unmoving, unseen. I said little that needed to be said.

Before I get too comfortable at home, I will leave again...

The search continues....

Every institution has it's own agenda…and as an artist, I have mine.


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