Sabine Lalande, ceramist, director, Interviewed by Pascale Nobécourt in 2002

“Colloque entre Plures et Una”


You are a ceramic artist and have been working with clay for nearly 15 years. How and when did you start “eating” it?

At the end of 1994. I was in my workshop. When a piece of work is not going well, I put the clay in a washing tub. At one time, I ruined a lot of pieces; there was more and more clay in the tub. I added a bit of water to keep it soft and then …I tasted it.

Do you think that merging with the clay in such a way is a bit like making love to it?


Yes, exactly.



When did the idea of filming come to you and why?

Instantly. I felt that I had touched something profound. It was the evening, I emptied the tub on a board, I covered it with a damp cloth and I managed to find a camera and someone to film the next day. It happened without forethought.


Why did you decide on this?

Because coming into direct contact with clay, this is what we all do, this is what we all say. I only didn’t only do it for ceramists, I think that everyone can understand this, it’s primordial, like a child taking the breast, an act of love. It is something violent but at the same time essential, I don’t know how to explain it with words. I wanted to share it. Clay is a substance that means a lot to me, it is important to speak to others of this in this way.


 How did this performance happen?

I quickly entered into a second state from which I did not emerge until there was no more clay left. This last eight hours: I did not feel the time go by and I wasn’t tired. I tried to push the clay as far as possible into my mouth. Nonetheless, as opposed to the person filming me, at no time did I feel the urge to vomit, at no time did I feel disgusted. From time to time I placed “mouthfuls” on the ground, and a drawing was created: it was like signs, an automatic writing. Then, all the pieces were cooked. I have several boxes full! They can be part of an exhibition. It is the gesture itself that became a sculpture.


 The public, even though essentially made up of ceramists, reacted violently. Some booed, some left. What did you think of this?

I somewhat expected this. It is doubtless why my film was placed out-of-competition, because it upset people … but that is part of an artist’s work: provoking reactions. If all you do is show something that already been done 10,000 times, there is no point. There were enthusiastic people who came to see me afterwards to tell me that what I did revived emotions that were deeply hidden in them. I also heard someone say that it was “something” too intimate, that should not be seen. When we work, we breathe deeply, we make collages with our saliva: it is all very sensual.


To see what I was doing, to understand, to feel better; like when you love someone, you want to touch them, taste them.


Was it good?

Neither good nor bad. In any case, it wasn’t too strange tasting. While working, you are obliged to taste, it goes a little bit everywhere, in your hair, your dirty hand touches your face. It’s like a child painting.




 Did you enjoy the festival?

I like the variety that covered the range from companies to craftspeople, we learn a lot. Schools should be taking part because it is a good way of discovering ceramics.



Extract from the magazine ‘Ateliers d’art’ July/August 2002