Sarah Bitter invited me, through writing, to experience the buildings she designed at 168, rue de Crimée, to imagine a text that would resonate with or close to them. This text should be able, in one way or another, to serve as material for the film that Sophie Comtet Kouyaté was making on this same architecture. Project already polyphonic, since this film involved dancers, a company of vertical dancers, a filmmaker and a philosopher. I like commissions, because they move me and make me discover unexpected worlds. And I liked the project. So I visited 168 rue de Crimée several times. I
did not have a precise idea of what I was going to write but, thinking of this cinematographic horizon, I immediately opted for the writing of fragments. I ask Sarah to count the windows for me. There are 180 plus 32 giving onto the inner courtyard. I think of Italian painted altarpieces. One of Piero della Francesca’s Annunciations. The small paintings along the bottom edge of a larger one, depicting episodes from a saint’s life. Brief scenes, miniatures, often quite striking.
Of course, I also had in mind «Life: a User’s Manual» by Georges Perec. An Attempt to inventory and exhaust the life of a building located at number 11 of the (imaginary) rue Simon-Crubellier, in the 11th district of Paris. I decided to create as many imaginary windows as the site has real windows. Windows from which I’ll observe, as if through a telescope, the site’s history and the long lives of its future inhabitants.
The 212 fragments I wrote correspond to the 212 windows of the buildings of 168 rue de Crimée. They are the fruits of my visits, conversations, strolls. Views on contemporary architecture and the dream life of its future inhabitants, as well as soundings in the past of a neighborhood.
Inventory, inventions.
Extracts from this text entitled «Villa Crimée» are present (read by me) in the
soundtrack of the fi lm directed by Sophie Comtet Kouyaté. And the text itself will be published by P.O.L in October 2018. P.O.L. is also the publisher of «Life: a User’s Manual».
There’s no such thing as coincidence.

  Célia Houdart is an author. She has written five novels A Whole Faraway World, P.O.L, 2017, Gil, P.O.L, 2015, Carrare, P.O.L, 2011, The Boss, P.O.L,
2009, The Wonders of the World, P.O.L, 2007 and an essay: Georges Aperghis. Opinion of Storm, Editions Intervalles, 2007. Her work includes texts for the theater as well as poems in prose for the dance.
Villa Crimée, written for the film will be published by P.O.L in October 2018.
 

 

Célia Houdart, writer