Anani Dodji Sanouvi

Quelle: Christiane Lopes da Cunha & Anani Dodji Sanouvi


In Éwé, ‘e’to’ means a concave receptacle, in which ingredients are pounded or ground. And ‘me’ gives it a sense of interior. When ‘e’to’ is complemented by ‘me’, ‘e’tome’, it refers to the inside of the concave space. During dance gatherings, participants invite others to enter the ‘e’tome’ - commonly known in western perspective as a dance circle. From the perspective of the animist ontology in which Éwé epistemology is anchored, e’tome indicates that neither the circle created by the participants nor the ground surface in which dance happens, is a flat surface. It means that dance performance creates and activates concave space, a curved dimension that connects ground and underground. The project E’TOME is dedicated to the investigation, inquiry, manifestation, and archive of the cyclical inter-externe relationship between worlds and the notion of aliveness/knowledge. Its focus is the creation of a dynamic bio-sonic and light structure in the form of a performance design, serving as a convergence point for Animist practitioners and associated artists. Within this framework, dance, living sculptures, music, image, socio-communicative manifestations and relationships are explored through the lens of Éwé epistemology. Here, animist ontologies and technicities are incorporated, dealing with elaborated interspecies communication skills, which are characterized by cyclical multi-relational, multi-dimensional, and multi-circular movement dynamics. The project embraces close encounters within invisible and visible poly-rhythmic, poly-centric, poly-decentric vibrations-pulses-movements, operating as a diplomatic structure. In E’TOME, this convergent space-time is perceived as an inclusive, fluid, hyperbolic, concave threshold. Éwé language is beautifully sophisticated and complex, with a flexibility that makes it very useful for negotiating. As a language, words are never fixed and one word can have multiple meanings. It’s the way they sound, the tone, that conveys meaning, not the words alone. It requires a fluid attitude, it does not follow a ‘straight line’. As a dance artist from a non anthropocentric background, I wish to raise here the issue of thinking, walking, moving “CURveward” as a response to the ongoing circular dimensions of unknown forces and territories. In this context dance performance operates as a "Flirting State" – a curved timeline for engaging in any type of relationship. A state where one tunes their thinking to ensure that any physical movement always happens ‘CURveward’ towards something else. The curve then becomes a technology of the threshold, used to leave chronological time and enter what I refer to as multidimensional time – a present time that appears like a sovereign time we 'own'. As a nomadic, performative space-time in the form of an ongoing concave abstract-cosmic surface E’TOME is a curved line that expands endogenous time while collapsing capitalism time structures. As a biodynamic, pre colonial-contemporary movement, constantly-moving circular scene-dispositif-threshold, its purpose is to mitigate colonial damages, to actualize, update and translate ancient knowledge for life in the present.

Anani Sanouvi is a transmedia artist, dancer, researcher, and educator who works at the intersection of dance performance, sound, and visual arts. Born in Togo, he grew up in Gabon, lived in Senegal, Belgium, Holland, Brazil, and currently resides in Portugal. He has received international recognition as a laureate of UNESCO, the Africa Center, the Sacatar Institute and the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Award. Anani's work has been featured in theaters, festivals, museums, and cultural centers worldwide. He has also collaborated with renowned artists like Peter Sellars and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. With "Agama Fo," a pedagogy aimed at creating and questioning contemporary dance and performance, rooted in Éwé epistemology and animist knowledge, he has conducted lectures and workshops at various institutions, dance, and theater companies in multiple countries. In partnership with Brazilian scholar and transmedia artist Christiane da Cunha, he is co-founder and artist in the Kawin collective.