La musique des mémoires

The music of memories


Claire Renard


One singular work, a totally new form

“A freely and multiply accessible work ... «


Pierre Gervasoni / Le Monde



With support from European Commission





45 Avenue Marceau

75116 Paris

tel & fax OO 33 1 47 20 24 49

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“Notions of space and perception are at the heart of composer claire renard’s research (…). … the impressive aural material establishes itself with natural ease. it is the uncontested star of this virtual show, and perfectly reflected by the diaphanous lighting, carefully created by designer esa vesmanen (…).this attention to reality, which is passed on by personal listening, becomes a formidable subject for meditation on “the experience of time”.

                                                                                              Franck Mallet / Art press / 2002

“I’d say surrealism more than realism. There’s a resonant surrealism in La musique des mémoires which turns the ear into an eye, and that’s fascinating. It’s also disturbing because you know longer know what’s inside or outside, what’s imaginary and what’s real…”

Omer Corlaix  / France Culture / 2001  

“ it’s an extremely original work, which, in particular, questions us on the place of musical art in our lives (…. ). this exposition reveals something of our place as listeners in our visual environment, and it’s very important, because, in a concert, you don’t question it(…) this is an historical moment in music…”

                                                                                                              David Jisse / France Culture /2001

" In an atmosphere lending itself perfectly to contemplation, visitors enter Claire Renard’s imaginative world with their eyes closed. There they see a flow of poetical vignettes pass by them to a stream of sound placed, in the broad field of concrete music, mid-way between Pierre Schaeffer’s Études and Luc Ferrari’s Presque rien. Launched upon the polymorphous trail of an unintelligible language, the ear learns with La musique des mémoires to play hooky in a soundscape specific to each town: plastic for Athens, mellifluous for Lisbon, and volatile for Helsinki."

Pierre Gervasoni - Le Monde / 2000

"Esa Wesmanen’s beautiful and sober set creates an intermediate climate, where neither shadow nor light comes to disturb the spectator’s privacy."

Omer Corlaix - Musica Falsa / 1999


" In a letter to Kandisky, Robert Delaunay declared, in 1912: "The laws I came up with are based on a quest for color transparency, comparable to music notes, which compelled me to find out about the movement of colors".

The composer Claire Renard pursues a similar search for a musical approach merging with light and plastic arts. In her musical performances, her sound exhibitions, as well as in her compositions, she probes the hidden recesses of the possible fusion between various art fields, so the eye can listen and the ear can feel".

Dominique Bérody / Chroniques de l'AFAA








La Musique des Mémoires / The Music of Memories

A plastic experience of sound and memory ...

It all started with the ambition to capture the sound identity of a place, a city — in the present case, three capitals located at the extreme boundaries of Europe (Athens, Helsinki and Lisbon) —, and its specificity in the memory of those who live in it. There was my desire, as a foreigner, to immerse myself in the sonorities and languages of these three paradoxical cities.

Then, as days, streets, encounters and voices went by, this exploration of the other has grown into a personal experience and memory.

After walking, over and over again, always listening to more and more noises, sounds, spaces, musics and especially these foreign languages, these Greek, Finnish and Portuguese words, after accumulating within myself all these sensations hovering between sound and feeling, a memory gradually developped in me at the same time as an awareness of the ongoing process.

At that point, the creation of La musique des mémoires became possible, a musical and plastic triptych that would convey the plastic quality of sound and time through the transmutational process —in a musical form— of voices and environments, of their different resonances, captured by the tape recorder, listened to by the body, and matured through memory.




...a musical form bordering between space and time...

A musical composition on tape gathering multiples life fragments, La musique des mémoires is an original creation made up of short sequences, where the sound materials recorded in real-life situations are used like instruments, playing on the plastic quality of voices, volumes, grains, sound perspectives (des plans sonores), and spaces.

Each sequence presented in the excursion/exhibition is characteristic of its place of origin, as much through the language it is permeated with as through the musical specificity it bears in itself: repetitivity, breaks, suspension(silence/pause), accumulation, ostinato, contrasts, density...

Each composition conveys a way of experiencing time. Thus, the visitor can move from present to past through Finland's stretched-out time, proceed at the pace of elements through Lisbon's labyrinthine time, or even go from the frenzy to the eternity of Greece's present time.

Three compositions —themselves divided in several sequences— punctuate the sound installation:

- Thimamai / Athens / Maintenant , Ici , Encore , Toujours and Figures de l'Agora

- Lembro-me / Lisbonn / Eau , Terre , Air , Feu , Les voix de Lisbonne and Portraits

- Muistan / Helsinki / La ville brute, La ville imaginaire, La ville mémoire.

To complement these specific compositions, Le Triangle de l'Europe gathers within a single representation the elements that all three cities share in their culture.


La Musique des Mémoires / The Music of Memories

... in a visual environnement...

Three bandstands – one per capital city – delimit the European triangle. Each one of these bandstands is characterized by a specific shape relating to the musical composition: the circle of time for Helsinki, a labyrinth for Lisbon and a square for Athens.

In addition to the bandstands is a place specifically meant to host the cultural elements that all three cities have in common : Le Triangle de l'Europe (The European Triangle).

Simple and nearly immaterial, the plastic environment is essentially a play on light and space staging without being illustrative. It creates listening paths which invite the visitor into a comparative journey.




dedicated to listening ...

The sound playback system — mainly through headphones —drives visitors into a situation of "intimiate listening", which contrasts with the sensation of walking through space, and offers them the opportunity to indulge in the images aroused by the power of sound.





meant for a broad audience

This sound installation is meant for a broad audience. Both in its form and contents, it is accessible to all:

- in its form, because the playback of all sequences in a loop through headphones allows everyone to proceed at their own pace;

- in its contents, because all fragments are composed of memories collected from inhabitants of various ages and backgrounds, of noises and sound atmospheres that are characteristic of the corresponding country, of musical excerpts suggested by people's memories, and therefore each visitor may find in this listening experience an echo of himself and the reawakening of personal sensations.




Musical composition and original idea: CLAIRE RENARD


Scenography: Esa VESMANEN

Musical assistants: Laurent SELLIER for Lembro-me, Muistan and Simame, and Pekka LAPPI for La ville mémoire /Muistan .

Scenography assistant : Timo PITKANEN


Interpretation and translation: Léa de Chalvron , Anna Hupli , Mari Vaïnika / Finland

Teresa Tamen , Anne Marie Liberio, Natalie Pereira / Portugal

Alexandra Fakalou / Bonita Papastathi , Michael Papachronis / Greece

Studios : La Muse en Circuit / Alforville /France

              PIMC / Paris/ France

              Radioateljee  et Sibelius Akatemia /Helsinki /Finland /


with support from:


The European Community / Programme Raphaël

La Muse en circuit, SACEM, French Ministry for the Arts , AFAA /French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Helsinki 2000 , Ateneum/The Finnish National Gallery , Cultural Affairs/ City of Helsinki , Radio Ateljee / YLE

University of Arts and Design, Sibelius Akatemia, Finnish Institute in  Paris and French Embassy in Finland.

Cultural Affairs/ City of Lisbon, Centro Nacional de Cultura / Lisbon /Portugal , Camoes Institute in Paris and Institut Franco-Portuguais /French Embassy in Portugal;

Fournos Arts Center and Institut Français d’Athènes /French Embassy in Greece




PIMC 45 avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris / France and Planet Design Ltd  / Helsinki / Finland.