Conference of 7 Perfumes: Ancestors from Beyond the Sea
If his spirit is still in his body
Pronounce now his name
And I, by the spell of this herb,
I shall bring him forth by pronouncing secret words
And his spirit will lift free from his body
And will appear before you.
Adam Mickiewicz, Forefathers’ Eve, Part III, Act 1, Scene IX, v. 155–160
The Conference of 7 Perfumes is a work in progress in which Pierre Guicheney revisits – via his films, written narratives and onstage presence – a lifelong worldwide journey through the rites dedicated to deified ancestors and their inherited powers. The opus to be presented for one evening in Wrocław is called Ancestors from Beyond the Sea. Its focus will be on the ceremonies and festivals filmed by Guicheney and Malika Lasfar during special expeditions organised by the Grotowski Institute in 2015 in Belarus, Haiti, Brazil and Nigeria.
Ancestors from Beyond the Sea will feature archival film clips shot by the author and a raw, unedited selection of footage from 2015. Starting from an evocation of Grotowski’s Theatre of Sources, of which the author was a member, we flow backwards, on a sensual journey, borne upon the universal stream of the river of life and death. Through possession dances and rites celebrated for ancestors in the Caribbean, Morocco, Brazil and Nigeria, we reach the masquerades of the Egungun (‘ancestors’) in Oyo, Nigeria. In the course of the journey, we will meet exceptional human beings: Grotowski, priests of various religions, clairvoyants, artists, simple believers and masters of secret cults, who will prove to us with their cheeky humour, dances and vital volubility that the cult of the dead is in its essence the worship of life.