Les subsistances

Creative research laboratory - Lyon
Theater / Dance / Circus / Music

Les subsistances

Laboratoire international
de création artistique – Lyon

Archives - Saison 2013 - 2014


Steven Cohen

Saturday 29 March


Live art

For the ten year birthday at Les-Subsistances in Lyon I was invited to do CHANDELIER again, after at least fifty times in twenty countries – but what a shock for me and for the audience. As it frenchly says below, ‘unique and unforgettable’. I entered the verriere on the cobblestones and fell. And stood up and fell. And fell again. With bleeding knees, I asked for help from the audience. Two people supported me as I walked to the stage. I climbed up the steps onto the stage and fell, breaking the chandelier. Crystals on the floor like shed tears, pieces of me. I asked the audience for help again saying (in my ghastly french), ‘this is not part of the performance, it is part of my life’. People helped me to the winch. I was suspended into the heights of darkness for the jewish prayer for light. I descended, reluctantly let go of the winch, and collapsed once more. My life is so shattered at the moment I have no equilibrium. I crawled in the wounded chandelier to where the wreckage of broken crystals were on the stage and sat, and together with the audience, watched the video CHANDELIER. It was as ever powerful, even more so for me as I sat in the debris of my life and art. Then, impromptu, involuntarily in tears and snot but with as much dignity as I could, I explained to the audience that something in me could not do it anymore. That something in me had broken, had died, was refusing, that I had reached my limit. I was shamelessly honest. The audience was sublime. They gave me a standing ovation as I was (literally) helped out. It was totally unplanned and practically unbearable, really performance art, not theatre at all. It was awkward. It was sad. It was a failure. It was beautiful. It was what it was … and it was what it wasn’t.

Steven Cohen


“This performance is dedicated to the memory of Alain Buffard whose brilliance is now lighting up other places and who has generously left us his legacy of art – and love”
Steven Cohen

This artist has been creating visual works for more than ten years while developing artistic performances that borrow from film, dance, and cross-dressing. He unexpectedly takes to the streets or the most unusual places, such as taxi stands, racecourses, shopping centers, etc.

Chandelier is a video performance that premiered in a Johannesburg squatter camp. As people watch city employees destroy it, Cohen walks around on very high heels, dressed as a chandelier living as if hanging from the sky.

Through performance art, dance and film, Chandelier reveals the contradictions between Europe and Africa, blacks and whites, rich and poor, shadow and light, private and public, the powerful and the oppressed, safety and danger.

Chandelier was presented during the Week_End de réouverture at Les Subsistances in 2004.


Direction: Steven Cohen
: Steven Cohen


Steven Cohen has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. For 10 years he created visual works in Johannesburg that have been the subject of numerous international exhibitions.

In his work as a performer, Cohen performs not only on stage and in art galleries, but also, uninvited, in public places. White, homosexual and Jewish, he uses his body to create a “living art” reminiscent of sculpture, contemporary dance, cross-dressing and performance art.

With his partner, the dancer-choreographer Elu, he has produced a series of short pieces, Crawling, flying (1998), Kudu dance (2000), and Chandelier (2002), that pierce the contradictions of post-apartheid South Africa. In their interventions, the pair walk a tightrope on the limits of race relations and gender.

In 2009 Cohen set up shop in Lille and created The Cradle of Humankind at the Anticodes festival in Brest in 2011. He then presented it at the 2012 Avignon Festival, where he also presented, under the stage in the Cour d’honneur of the Palais des Papes, Title Withheld. For Legal and Ethical Reasons.

By staying in Europe, the site of the Holocaust, Cohen has connected with his Jewish roots. While in residence at Les Subsistances in Lyon in April 2004, he learned about Klaus Barbie, French collaboration and the resistance movement, and created the deeply moving solo Dancing inside out. He also took part in the Collectif strip-tease, with Maid in South-Africa during the Week_End Ça Chauffe! in January 2005.





Dates & horaires

Sat 29 March 2014 / 22:30


Feuille de salle

Quand était-il venu aux Subs ?

> Week_End de réouverture – janvier 2004
> Week_End Ça Chauffe !
– janvier 2005
> Week_End Ça Trace ! – octobre 2009