Tea and Videos
Around tea time (16.00 hrs) on the first and last Sunday of each month,
Corine Miret and Stephane Olry organise a screening of video works in
their apartment in the Le Marais district in Paris. Tea and biscuits are
served in the living room while the bedroom is set up for viewing.
The organisers wanted to combat that "terminal" Sunday feeling,
the terrible boredom of the day in the week they both dreaded. Corine - a
fan of different kinds of teas - combined their enjoyment for tea and
cake with a good excuse for cleaning and rearranging their apartment to
focus into the organisation of Thes Videos.
Set up in 1993, their public grew gradually through word of mouth and
from Stephane and Corine's contacts within the world of art, theatre,
dance, cabaret and multi-media events, Corine Miret is a dancer, Stephane
Olry is a theatre director and writer and together they operate a production
company called "La Revue Eclair" which organises large multi-media
With Thes Videos, invitation cards are sent out every few months to already
established contacts and some are left in gallery spaces. The invitation
cards are mainly to announce when screenings will recommence after the
summer, winter or autumn breaks or when Corine and Stephane have returned
from travelling and working outside Paris.
Entrance is free but a donation box is situated in the lobby for contributions,
a list of video works is provided when viewers enter. All videos are selected
from their personal archive, to date, the archive comprises of sixty to
seventy videos mainly by French makers with a few other Belgian, Dutch
and German works. The organisers collect and screen video work that they
like, their choice is purely subjective. This becomes evident when they
introduce individual works and give a brief background to them, they take
a great delight in what they show.
Their preference is for direct, live to camera works in 'real time,'
often with an element of humour. They do not favour flash technical skills
and paint-box usage. In this sense their archive represents a current
trend in art for highly subjective personal works in 'real time.'
On the occasion I was there, one video played showing its maker (head
and shoulders shot to camera) singing a well-known French pop song without
the aid of music or an accompanying record. All the pauses, timing and
intonations were perfectly studied and memorised and the video maker's
complete sincerity in his rendition caused great hilarity amongst viewers.
Three to four new titles appear each month. The archive grows organically
through word of mouth and it is the video makers themselves who approach
Thes Videos with their works.
Care is taken to inform each video maker about the reception of their
video, to describe and explain the context within which the work will
be shown if the maker is not already familiar with Thes Videos. This is
important as throughout a screening viewers may come and go, out for a
cigarette, a cup of tea or a chat. The television/monitor itself is more
than simply a 'black box,' being camouflaged in a 50s sci-fi style and
set up as a unique, almost sacred object. Mattresses and cushions are
littered across the floor accommodating ten persons comfortably and fifteen
at a push. The apartment is spacious enough, but for organisational ease
numbers do not exceed twenty/twenty-five. In 'le salon' where
tea is served, viewers get together to decide what they would like to
watch. A list of video works is provided on entering, these being generally
of short duration, between three and five minutes, with the occasional
thirty to fifty minute video included for those who enjoy an element of
perseverance. Some people turn up uniquely to view videos, others come
simply to discuss, without watching a single work.
Corine and Stephane are themselves video makers, producing video postcards
whenever they travel, and naturally they are included in the archive for
Thes Videos started up again in September and any video maker passing
through Paris with a copy of their video under their arm, and in need
of a cup of tea can contact Corine Miret and Stephane Olry: 11 Rue Des
Arquebusiers, 75003 Paris. Telephone 42 77 16 62