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Manimal planet: This artist is a beast • Brooklyn Paper

Manimal planet: This artist is a beast

Manimal: Cyril Casmeze and Jade Duviquet are turning evolution on its head, exploring man as an animal in a performance this month in Brooklyn.
Courtesy of Villa Gillet

Some men are pigs — but this guy is a also a dog, lion, and bear.

Cyril Casmeze, a French performance artist and actor who specializes in “becoming” animals is coming to Brooklyn as part of Walls and Bridges, an arts festival sponsored by a grant from the French Ministry of Culture — but don’t expect any European high-society on stage.

“I am an actor, and not an animal imitator,” said Casmeze, through a translator. “More than mimicking animals, I actually try to be them.”

Casmeze says he specializes in becoming a dog, lion or lioness, wild boar, or bear, complete with animal-like sounds, and while he acknowledge that his art is analogous what for many is child’s play, it has deeper layers behind it.

“After these millions of years of evolution, acting like an animal — which is a game, let’s make that clear — allows us to revisit the history of our own bodies, and to explore some form of otherness,” he said.

Casmeze’s piece will include artist Jade Duviquet and the event, called “A portrait of the man as an animal,” will also have a scientific discussion between two paleoanthropologists, Ian Tattersall and Pascal Picq, about the differences between the species, as well as a musical performance that will blend human and non-human sounds.

If this all seems strange, it’s what the Walls and Bridges season is all about. It’s organized by a French cultural group Villa-Gillet that hails from Lyon and emphasizes interdisciplinary performances of philosophy, art, and music that break new ground and make new connections.

The festival takes place in locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but it’s all part of a cultural exchange that seems to be increasingly strong between France and the creative community in our borough — which wasn’t always the case.

“Nowadays, we’re increasingly aware that Brooklyn is the new center of New York’s creative scene,” said Guy Walter, the director of Walls and Bridges, through a translator.

“Ten years ago, our participants would likely have been fearful of coming to Brooklyn — now many prefer it to Manhattan.”

“Portrait of the man as an animal,” at Roulette [509 Atlantic Ave. at Third Avenue in Downtown, (212) 219-8242 www.roulette.org]. Oct. 21 at 6:30 pm, free with RSVP to roulette@roulette.org.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.r
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