PLI is a project of acrobatic and poetic creation that blends the body and a raw material: paper. Combining circus arts and visual arts, PLI grew out of the meeting between circus artist Inbal Ben Haim and paper artist Alexis Merat. Artist and set designer Domitille Martin joined the project to work on designing circus equipment that is made entirely of paper and blends into the set.
Excerpt from the statement of intent
We were brought together by this material that has been with humans on a daily and very personal basis for more than 2000 years: newspapers and money, maps of the world and wrapping paper, the first notebook of a child learning to write, postcards, bills, shopping lists, love letters, identity papers (almost as important as toilet paper), a base for colors and words . . . A blank page can hold anything.
Born in Jerusalem (Israel) in 1990, Inbal Ben Haim studied visual arts, sports and the art of movement. She discovered aerial circus arts when she was 13, at the Free Dome Project then the Shabazi Circus, where she found a place for physical expression that touched her deeply. After she completed her civil service in Israel, where she developed a method for teaching circus arts to problem youth, Ben Haim moved to France, where she perfected her aerial work at circus schools (Piste d’Azur, Centre National des Arts du Cirque à Châlons-en-Champagne). In 2018 she co-created RACINE(S) with the Attraction Compagnie. Specializing in the vertical rope, Ben Haim weaves a unique relationship between body and material, always looking to create visual poetry. Her artistic language is a blend of circus and visual arts, the intimate and the flamboyant, and the here and there.
An engineer by training, Alexis Mérat has degrees in Systems Mechanics with digital simulation as a specialty, and Advanced Materials Technology and Mechanics (University of Troyes).
Fascinated with paperwork, he specializes in folding techniques (origami) and more specifically creasing, a more intuitive, holistic technique. His work is both artistic and scientific: he has exhibited works mostly in group exhibitions such as the TIM Future Centre in Venice, Biennale animalière de Châlons-en-Champagne, INART in the Netherlands, Centre d’Histoire de Saragosse, etc., and published several articles on the technical properties of creased paper.
Over the past several years, he has developed partnerships in the performing arts world, and more specifically with marionettists and circus artists. He is interested in stage sets as well as costumes and circus equipment, especially ropes made of paper, and puts his knowledge to work for the arts. In particular, he has worked with the Centre National des Arts du Cirque (CNAC), the Succursale 101 company, the Pseudonymo company during the Orbis Pictus festival in Reims, and the Lagoon Pirates collective for various editions of the Carnival in Venice. After doing joint research on paper at the CNAC in 2017, he worked with the circus artist Inbal Ben Haim in May 2019 to create Pli, which was shortlisted for Circusnext 2020 – 2021, a project co-financed by the European Union’s Creative Europe program.
Alexis Mérat has been a member of the Centre de Recherche International de Modélisation par le Pli (CRIMP) since 2008, and a member of the Mouvement Français des Plieurs de Papiers since 2005.
Domitille Martin graduated from the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, where she studied for five years, and spent seven months in the Parque Lage studios of the Visual Arts School in Rio de Janeiro. She is an artist who aspires to blend her visual arts work with set design. She has worked with artists from diverse fields on eclectic creations. For example, she helped the artist Janaina Mello set up her monumental work, Cyclotrama, at the Palais de Tokyo and a grant from the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation to support handcrafted work (“Le savoir-faire et la main”), for which she created a plant sculpture. Sculpting shapes inspired by nature, she moved from observing to manipulating and changing them. She is also the set designer for Anna Rodriguez’s choreographic work, in which the set provides essential creative support to the dancers. Most recently she worked on the circus creations La Chose, by the company Le jardin des délices, and Racine(s) by l’Attraction Cie.
Since 2015 she has been working on a joint project with aerial dancer Nina Harper. Together they are developing a unique writing method that blends the performing and visual arts. In 2017 she met dancer Kamma Rosenbeck, with whom she has taken a similar approach in connection with the CNRS in Marseille. Since 2018 she has been artist in residence at the “La Source” Association founded by Gérard Garouste, and in 2019 participated in the “Création en Cours” program on Reunion Island sponsored by the Ateliers Médicis and the Culture Ministry.
Conception and interpretation: Inbal Ben Haim
Engineering, Construction, paper handling , interpretation & writing collaboration: Alexis Mérat
Scenography, costumes, accessories, interpretation & writing collaboration: Domitille Martin
External gaze, body and movement: Sophie Lascombes
Lighting creation: Marie-Sol Kim
Sound creation: Max Bruckert
Additional original music: Caroline Chaspoul et Eduardo Henriquez (Nova Materia)
Technical and artistic collaboration : Sophie Lascombes
External views and dramaturgy: Eleonora Guimenez, Shahar Dor
Artistic advice : Inbal Yomtovian
Dramaturgy advice : Elodie Perrin
Assistant director : Kamma Rosenbeck
Costums: Clémentine Monsaingeon
General management : Yann Guénard
Les SUBS – lieu vivant d’expériences artistiques, Lyon
With the support of the Hermès Corporate Foundation as part of the New Settings program
Coproductions & résidences
Le CCN2 – Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble ; La Plateforme 2 Pôles Cirque en Normandie | La Brèche à Cherbourg – Cirque-Théâtre d’Elbeuf ; Le Théâtre de Rungis ; ARCHAOS – Pôle National Cirque Méditerranée, Marseille ; Les utoPistes, Lyon ; 6 mettre – Pôle de création dédié aux arts vivants, Fresnes ; Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde, Bagneux, CDN d’Orléans, Circusnext.
La DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes ; La Région Ile-de-France – FoRTE, Fonds Régional pour les Talents Émergents ; La SACD / Processus Cirque ; La Nationale des papeteries ; Gascogne Papier.
Lauréat circusnext 2020-2021, plateforme co-financée par le programme Europe Créative de l’Union européenne.
Inbal Ben Haim est artiste associée au CCN2 Grenoble en 2020-2022
Piste d’Azur – Centre Régional des Arts du Cirque, Le CNAC – Centre National des Arts du Cirque Châlons-en-Champagne, ICiMa – Chaire d’Innovation Cirque et Marionnette, ON – Center for Contemporary Circus Création – Israël, Orit Nevo, Lucie Bonnet