Salon Enchanting Scores


With Isabelle Stengers, Arnaud Halloy & Julien Bruneau
Kaaistudio's, 18 November 2013 at 19.00 (!). EN - duration ca. 3 hours.
Free entrance - reservation required.

In the framework of a workshop around Enchanting Scores the workplace Sarma organizes one of its salons on new practices and discourses in the arts and in the world at large. Choreographer and visual artist Julien Bruneau, anthropologist Arnaud Halloy and philosopher Isabelle Stengers set up a conversation on trance and relational practices between magic, science and the arts. Afterwards the audience will be invited to work with these ideas and perspectives in a scored collective thinking process. Since modern times we are distant observers of our environment, in which we at once carelessly intervene. Can 'enchanting scores' create the condition for alternative forms of relationality and agency to emerge?

Extensive documentation of Enchanting Scores is available here.

An interview by Julien Bruneau with philosopher Isabelle Stengers on their respective collective thinking practices is avalaible on the page Désamalgamer la pensée (in French).

Trance practices

What can be the critical potential of trance practices in today’s art and society? Since modern times we are distant observers of our environment, in which we at once carelessly intervene. How can we decolonize our modes of thinking that are imbued with the enlightened pride of a science based on progress, rationality and universality? How can we move beyond a triumphant modernism in the arts? To make a start with allowing experiences to transform ourselves, we first need to acknowledge the situated character of our knowledge and practices.

In the essay 'Reclaiming Animism', Isabelle Stengers pleads for an experimental, adventurous and plural approach of entangled relations. "An experimental achievement may be characterized as the creation of a situation enabling what the scientists question to put their questions at risk, to make the difference between relevant questions and unilaterally imposed ones." Invoking a broad panoply of practices and the names we give them -- such as "trance", "animism", "magic", "neo-pagan witchery", "hypnosis", "shamanism" -- the different milieus in which these can thrive come into relief and demand that also we situate ourselves. Not only would we then reflect upon our own practices and knowledge, we might also discover our own relationality, our being situated in larger assemblages that surpass our grasp.

Trance practices could then be understood in relation to a process of "recovering the capacity to honor experience, any experience we care for, as 'not ours' but rather as 'animating' us, making us witness to what is not us." Trance is not interesting in and of itself, it creates connections and forms its practitioners, which can only ever happen in "assemblages that generate metamorphic transformation in our capacity to affect and be affected -- and also to feel, think, and imagine."

Enchanting devices and scores

In his study of the Xangô cult, which is part of the Afro-Brazilian Candomble, Arnaud Halloy investigates rituals of possession, as well as inititiation, oracle devices and the role of cultic artifacts in spiritual experience. He approaches religion not primarily as a belief but as a set of practices. How is the divine being produced? How does it manifest itself in the bodies and communities of worshippers? Asking pragmatical questions allows Halloy to consider the cognitive, emotional and interpersonal components in enacting relations with the gods. Rituals are analysed as "enchanting devices" (dispositifs d’enchantements), that is as "social and material environments that support spiritual encounters with real or imagine intentional entities." The promise of surprise opens up a liminal space where one is no longer and not yet oneself.

In a variation on "enchanting devices", the the notion "score" pushes our concerns more explicitly into the field of the arts. For several years, Julien Bruneau’s work has been experimenting with scores articulating dance, drawing and verbal thinking. Designing scores means to set up rules of action and composition. Bruneau’s interest relies on the desire to structure a process that has its own logic and purpose, to a certain extent autonomous from the people enacting it. Practitioners of these scores find themselves in a complex web of bodily sensations, imagination, thinking and emotions that requires them to negotiate a paradoxical place between action and passivity, interiority and collectivity. Exploring "contemporary mythologies" at work in gestures, images and speech, the work currently operates on the intersection of intimate states and socio-cultural concerns. "Trance is a mode of problematising our relation to ourselves, to our culture and to our environment."

Experimenting with practice

Can 'enchanting scores' create the condition for alternative forms of relationality and agency to emerge? In the salon, after a conversation, everyone will be invited to participate in a collective thinking score devised by Julien Bruneau. This score involves the exegesis of drawings according to a particular conversation protocol within smaller groups in order to construct a collective space of thought. All this happens in relation to the question of trance practices and how they affect us. In the third part of the evening, the different groups will share some of the ideas they've developed throughout practising the score.

Concept: Julien Bruneau and Jeroen Peeters
Guests: Julien Bruneau, Arnaud Halloy and Isabelle Stengers
Production: Sarma
Thanks to Kaaitheater

Julien Bruneau is a choreographer and visual artist based in Brussels. Since 2010, he develops the research phréatiques (aquifers), with the collaboration of A. Llaurens, S. Si Ahmed, L. Myers, M. Dalinsky and J. Peeters. This project leads to performances as well as exhibitions. Currently J. Bruneau is working on an on-line publication on and develops the project “some crosscuts of some of our improbable bodies” in the frame of a MA at the Amsterdam Master of Choreography (Theaterschool.) His work is/has been supported by a.o. Sarma, Bains Connective, Netwerk, workspacebrussels, Vooruit and Les Halles.

Arnaud Halloy is a Belgian anthropologist, assistant professor at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis (France) since 2007. He traveled to Brazil where he conducted extensive fieldwork in the Afro-Brazilian Xangô Possession Cult of Recife, in the North-East Region of Brazil. Arnaud Halloy’s main interest goes to the mutual influence between contextual and cognitive dimensions of religious transmission, exploring the tight links between cognition, emotion, perception and cultural environments. He is now focusing his research on emotions and the senses, and their specific role in possession learning process, oracular systems, “empowerment” of artifacts and “traditional” transmission.

Isabelle Stengers