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Travel and frontiers: Theory and practice of creative writing


Mudam Studio
Masterclass by

Jean Portante (poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, translator)

Within the framework of the exhibition

Freigeister. Fragments of an art scene in Luxembourg


For all aged 17+


(participants may write in LU/EN/DE/IT/FR)


30€ / participant
Free of charge for students


Fully booked!


The museum welcomes you in compliance with CovidCheck

As a rule, every poet is self-taught. This does not mean that writing, like all things, cannot be learned. It has its techniques which, if they never replace the desire or the need to express oneself, nor the imagination, nor the freedom of creation, nor a possible gift, allow one to delve into the depth of words and the subtle links between them.

With a keen eye on the visual arts (and, at times, sound art), the aim of this masterclass will be to create the conditions for an outpouring of originality; to explore words and to make them express what they seek to keep silent; and to create a dictionary, specific to each individual, from which unique connections can be woven to produce text. It is worth remembering, after all, that if one goes back to the Latin source, the words ‘text’ and ‘weaving’ mean exactly the same thing. Text is a tapestry of words.

As we know, writing forged a connection with music and, in the beginning, as the trouvères and troubadours remind us, it was not a separate discipline. Poetry also built a bridge with the visual arts. In France, the first major poetic work of the early 20th century was an avant-garde collaboration – a simultanism – between the poet Blaise Cendrars and the visual artist Sonia Delaunay: La Prose du transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France [Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France], created in 1913 – this was a crucial year for the avant-garde, just ahead of the barbarity of the coming war. All the great figures of painting and poetry, from Pablo Picasso to Guillaume Apollinaire, from Marc Chagall to Max Jacob, followed their lead. It represented, among other things, the birth of the ‘book object’.

In order to weave, many threads are needed and, when intertwined, create fabric, textiles – text. This is where writing techniques come into play, techniques drawn from the baggage of the avant-garde of Europe and further afield who at the dawn of the 20th century forged these bonds with writing. This masterclass will draw on the contributions made by the poet Comte de Lautréamont, on the Dadaism of Tristan Tzara and Hugo Ball, the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, the Futurism of Filippo Marinetti and Carlo Carrà, the Surrealism of André Breton and Salvador Dalí, on the experimentation of Kurt Schwitters and John Cage, on the experimental writing of the Oulipians – who, with Raymond Queneau and Georges Perec, opened literature up to mathematics and its constraints and to taking a playful approach to writing and its extraordinary possibilities – it will draw, too, on the Fluxus art community of the 1960s and 1970s and the CoBrA movement of the late 1940s, on the Italian Novissimi movement, and others. Sound and visual poetry, with its happenings and installation-related performances, will never be far away.

Writing will remain at the heart of this masterclass. Each participant will be encouraged to produce a number of pieces, to be presented at a public happening-performance. These will also be brought together to create a permanent record in a virtual or physical format, such as video or a small publication.

Jean Portante
© Photo : Mudam Luxembourg