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I encountered this video last winter and I fell in love with it- the enormous, life-like marionettes; the red-costumed puppeteers propelling down ropes and operating the strings; the fantasy story being told by the Royal de Luxe theatre company through the streets of London; the soft, electronic music and vocals.

This video and phenomenon has so many layers.

I downloaded the song “Décollage” by Les Balayeurs Du Désert because I think it’s gorgeous and calming. I wanted to understand it more and I searched for the lyrics. I was moved to discover a definition of “décollage.” The website the-artists.org says, “Found objects, ripped posters, radical collages: as part of the New Realism movement of the early 1960s. Décollage is the opposite of collage; instead of an image being built up of all or parts of existing images, it is created by cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing, pieces of an original image.”

Wikipedia provides a more in-depth definition. Here are portions of it:

  • “Examples include inimage or etrécissements and excavations. A similar technique is the lacerated poster, a poster in which one has been placed over another or others, and the top poster or posters have been ripped, revealing to a greater or lesser degree the poster or posters underneath.”
  • “The French word “décollage” translates into English literally as ‘take-off’ or ‘to become unstuck.'”
  • “The lacerated poster was an artistic intervention that sought to critique the newly emerged advertising technique of large-scale colour advertisements. In effect, the decollage destroys the advertisement, but leaves its remnants on view for the public to contemplate.”

While these definitions focus on the physical dimensions of the word, I’m drawn to the inward, self-reflection process signified- uncoiling, refining, and scraping oneself down to new shapes and ways.

“Décollage” samples pieces of the song “It Amazes Me,” sung by Blossom Dearie and written by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman.

“It Amazes Me” Lyrics”

I searched the Internet for information about the Royal de Luxe theatre company, but they have no website. I found fascinating information about them on the site: http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2007/03/royal_de_luxe_t.html. I highly recommend reading it.

How can this be used in the classroom?

  • Use it to study to concept of storytelling. Students might be interested in demystifying the elusive Royal de Luxe company
  • Build marionettes and use them to make skits
  • Build collages, and then reverse the process using décollage
  • Study the lyrics. Why was this song used for the video?
  • Delving into the depths of self and life through reflection, creation, and experimentation
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