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Interview with Koyo Kouoh

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Photo Christa Holka

Koyo tells us a little about the artist and his work

What is behind the meaning behind title ‘From the Ethics of Acting to the Empire Without Signs

The title refers to an Agit’Art manifesto on acting produced by Issa Samb and Agit’Art founding member and playwright, the late Youssoupha Dione. It borrowed from the Buddhist body of teachings called Mahamudra and included guide lines on radical acting which concentrated on the gesture and the body and eliminated speech. According to Samb, Agit’Art experimented with the concept through various plays and performances such as Senghor’s Chaka Zulu and Cesaires’s La Tempête in the early years of 1980s. The manifesto also served as a training manual for young actors in Agit’Art’s experimental drama school in 1980s.

When did you first become aware of Issa Samb and his work?

In 1995 barely two hours after landing in Dakar.

Laboitoire Agit’Art was founded in 1974. Can you briefly explain the importance of the group’s work?

The group was the first to develop African traditional aspects of collaborative creative work into modern aesthetics of artistic political expression.

What is the nature of the artistic relationship between French theatre director Jean Michel Bruyère and Issa Samb?

Jean Michel Bruyère has been collaborating with Issa Samb for over twenty years now. Issa Samb considers himself as an enabler, a mediator of creative processes. It is in this sense that he puts himself at the service (dixit) of progressive artistic ideas such those of Bruyère in theatre and installation.

What makes Issa Samb’s work and practice so unique?

His unflinching radical stand opposed to mainstream and utter resilience throughout time.