no, the ideas of surrealism are central for me, and i would even say that the basis of surrealism (not its today's understanding : bizarre, ackward) is still very strong : the truth to find in the dream activity, the denial of artistic hierarchy, the lack of career compromissions. I don't know what you mean by absurdism, though. Absurd is a very relative notion.
2). You also seem to be commenting on and trying to deconstruct musical, formal and academic traditions and to question what we know and how we know it, to subvert our understanding of history and knowledge. Is this the case and what inspired these ideas and questions?
Well, I would say that this is the case but not frontally. I certainly don't comment on and try to deconstruct musical, formal and academic traditions, since it seems quite a vain and academic idea. I don't tend to question knowledge, but it can happen, as result of the process. In other words, using the dream as source, the improvisation and the mix of media as means, not putting too much effort into the artistic side of it opens the door to deconstruction, because it is not the appearance or the respect of codes which is important, not even the aesthetics, but more the energy lying under the brutal encounters of elements, how they talk to me, how i can deal with them, whether these elements are found or constructed. These questions were inspired mainly by the refusal of the efficiency of the capitalistic world as i perceive it : utilitarian, rational, religious but not transcendental. They are rooted in dadaism, surrealism, without doubt.
2 bis) When and how did you first start thinking about and questioning human knowledge and how we acquire it?
i've studied musicoly, i even wrote a history of music. At the same time, i've always composed music ; so there is a collision between creation and knowledge for me since i'm able to realize it.
3). Can you explain some of the background of Professor Glaçon? Who is he, where did he come from and what is his ‘academic mission’?
it comes from this aphorism that Glaçon repeats all the time : "the only truth (truth in the sense of something one cannot contradict) lies in what is invented". and since encyclopedia in general pretend to tell the truth, isn't natural that Glaçon has a lot to say about everything ? the rest is history...
4). This is the first time that South Africans will be able to see and hear Telegrams from the Nose. Can you say a little bit about your collaboration and working process with William Kentridge?
originally i was supposed to make a transcription of shostakovich music. But it appeared quickly that what william wanted was far from what the socre could give him. So i made him several propositions, and he kept some : the use of texts by Daniil Harms, my performance of some of them, the unconventional instruments, and my musical compositions.
4 bis) From a musical point of view, Telegrams appears to be a collection of François Sarhan’s personal responses, memories and allusions to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich, rather than direct recitals of the composer’s work. Is this a fair description - is there more to it?
there is no connexion to Shostakovich music.
Is this a commentary on the classical music tradition of strict adherence and faithful recital of old written scores? What were you hoping to achieve with the Telegrams project?
5). Judging from your past experiences performing and exhibiting in South Africa, what have your impressions of South African audiences been? What are their responses like in comparison to those of your French audiences?
I don't know a lot of South African audience ! i would be presomptuous to give you a serious answer. What i can say is that french audiences are tired of the enormous market of shows running all the time. Just consider that in the field of contemporary music, there are about 25 active music bands, ensembles, groups, orchestras only in paris, and that every week there is an average of 10 concerts only in paris, only dedicated to contemporary written music (excluding commercial, pop, jazz, movie music). On one hand one can see that as a great richness, on the other it is a hard market for a limited and fierce audience...
6). Can you give a provide a brief peek at projects you have planned for the near future after the National Arts Festival?
First i'll take a few days of break ! then i'm going to make a series of performances of the glaçon lectures in france, play a show in Austria with music, text and video, at the end of july ; and prepare a large exhibition of the Encyclopedia in a beautiful medieval abbey in the center of France, then showing it in a festival in Germany called Donaueschingen Musik Tagen.