San Clemente

Pierre Jodlowski

Play duration: 1 hour 10 minutes Tickets: 30 PLN

At the origin of this project there is an island...
... in the bay of Venice, an inaccessible island: San Clemente.
We can not really go today to San Clemente, besides we could not really go there before!
In 1873, on the architectural foundations of an old monastery, there was build an asylum.
Initially exclusively dedicated to women, San Clemente became one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Italy, where all sorts of treatments - even the most dubious - were delivered. At the end of the 60's, this hospital will be criticized and viewed as a symbol of the « psychiatric crisis » which upsets the country leading to a more general protest carried by Franco Basaglia among others. The crisis will lead to the gradual closure of these establishments, San Clemente will close in 1992.
In its last period, the asylum becomes a place where patients are left to their own, in a state of semi-freedom.
Raymond Depardon, french documentarist, will shoot there in 1980, one of his most important film, entitled San Clemente. Having no narrative character, this film is an immersion on this island. It reveals an abandoned community, living in miserable conditions, nevertheless very close to St. Mark's Square and its thousands of tourists.
Today, this island is fully occupied by a luxury hotel. The rates of this hotel make it, again, an inaccessible place, reserved for an elite. San Clemente continues to stay aside and it's a place where the past is malleable. In the history of the building that can be found on the brochures or website of the hotel, nothing is mentioned about 100 years of psychiatry. Here, they erase the memory of stones and corridors, as they erased that of men ...
The development of this project is based on this geographical and historical basis, also weaving a relationship with the poetry of Alda Merini, a dazzling personality of Italian literature. Merini, often compared to Antonin Artaud, composes a poetry in which life, a form of mysticism and the upheavals of a great mental fragility are tied together by prose texts or modern poetic forms.
These texts, spoken or sung, elaborate a counterpoint to the cinematographic and scenic actions that unfolds on the stage. The musical writing always starts from words, from this « dream-like language » which always bring us to the light. In the background, the film produced for this project and which is used as the main scenery, includes the presence of a dancer. Here the choreographic writing is directly based on the work of Raymond Depardon. From his film, we could extract some specific gestures of the patients which become the base of the movements for the dancer. Filmed in the streets of Venice, then in the corridors and rooms of the actual San Clemente hotel, the dance conveys the bits of memory we need to understand the incredible paradox of this space.
Finally, another documentary is born here, the one that tells the voluntary amnesia of the luxury industry! But, what the walls of the establishment have seen can not be totally dissolved ... Because it is here, during a century, that have been excluded from the world some weakened but dignified human beings. This project tries in a way to give them back this memory too…


  • Commissioned by : French Ministry of Culture
  • Coproduction : studio-éole
  • Concept, composition, lights, video : Pierre Jodlowski
  • Texts : Alda Merini
  • Choreography and dance (film) : Annabelle Chambon
  • Scenography : Claire Saint-Blancat
  • Soprano : Clara Meloni
  • Clarinet : Megumi Tabuchi
  • Accordion : Silke Lange
  • Keyboards : Malgorzata Walentynowicz
  • Live electronics : Pierre Jodlowski
  • Sound ingineer : Kamil Keska
  • Technical and artistical advisor : Matthieu Guillin
  • Scenography realization : Claire Daulion
  • First performance: 14th of May 2019 in Lux, National Theater in Valence - France
  • More information click here

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