Photo by Caroline Hayeur

D.Kimm is the author of four books, and Le Silence des hommes, a CD collaboration with guitarist Bernard Falaise. She’s appeared on countless stages and helmed two full-length performances,  Chevale (1990) and La Suite mongole (1999). She appeared in a duet with dancer Louise Bédard in 1994, and has worked with a string of collaborative performance groups like Le Band de poètes, Brahmine, Erlenmeyer, and Mankind (a ‘spoken noise’ duo with Alexis O’Hara). Her interest in the staging of her own productions, incorporating musicians, lighting and movement, has led to an impressive C.V. as artistic director of literary events for the Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois, the Festival de la littérature, Write pour écrire, the Festival international de littérature and many others. As director of Les Filles électriques, she creates multidisciplinary events based on oral and written literature. Les Filles électriques produces the international Festival Voix d’Ameriques, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in February.

When initially reading about D.Kimm’s prodigious career, it might seem she has a master plan. But an openness to chance and an adventurous spirit have played a major part as well. “I was educated to be a writer. When I started to make shows, it was by accident. When I started to make movies it was a challenge, it was ‘okay, let’s do it,’ but we didn’t have a plan. My friend was a video-maker and I just improvised for him. I love improvisation, that’s why it was great to work with Alexis O’Hara, because she’s like that as well, so we were a good team. I love the challenge of improvisation.”

D.Kimm’s latest adventure was a six month CALQ residency in New York City, where she worked on her current interdisciplinary project, La Mariée perpétuelle, a multidimensional performance first presented at Off Festival TransAmériques in May 2009. The performance came into being accidentally. “I was in an artist’s residency in Kelowna, we were shooting a video. I wanted something to wear for the video and I found a wedding dress. When I put it on, it was clear it was me, but not at a wedding. The Constant Bride never gets married. And this is how I feel often, feeling in-between. I feel I’m never exactly in the right place.” The dress acts as a medium, a way for D.Kimm to externalize and explore her various personality traits. “I’m not acting. When I’m wearing the wedding dress, I’m the same person, but I’m more. It just makes things more clear.”

During her New York residency, D.Kimm has also begun to envision a major video project. “My big discovery while I was here is Jack Smith, who was a performer and a film-maker. God! I love his stuff, I’m totally crazy about him, I’m buying everything I can, his movies, books. I’ve discovered a very amazing network of avante-garde film-makers here, the people that knew him are a big inspiration for me. So now where I’m moving with my video project is somewhere very colourful, with a lot of disguises, costumes, very different from what I did before.”

Her writing practice had been on the back burner for a while, as she was concentrating on the visual aspects of La Mariée perpétuelle, but her video project has led to an exploration of new texts. “My character is coming from an old, old coat for a little girl that I can just fit into. Now the story is coming from what I was doing, improvising for the shooting, and I like it because its a different text from what I was doing in the past.” While much of her artistic process involves improvisation, that isn’t the case with her texts. “I cannot improvise the text live, this is not my style, I always perform texts that are already written. But the more I perform them, the more they evolve. That’s why I don’t publish a lot, because I’m always working with the same texts. It’s often by performing it that I can see the weak parts of the text.”

Another lesson learned from her New York residency is a newfound respect for the American artists’ willingness to undertake projects without any funding. “A lot of people don’t have grants here, nothing. Sometimes they have money from foundations, but it’s rare. So, I like that people do things without waiting for a grant. After all, we are artists. I’m not saying we should do things for free all the time, but we should be able to do things, to just go and do it. So I’m looking for people who want to do things for free. Play in my movie! (laughs) For fun, because I will have no money.”