From the 19th of September 2011 to the 20th of September 2012
For the CCNFCB - Centre Chorégraphique National de Belfort Franche-Comté, France

For over 100 years the Lion of Belfort has stood watch over Belfort and its region. It acts as a guardian, a protector, and in that sense is similar to other monumental exterior works such as the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janiero, or the Angel of the North in the U.K. by Anthony Gormley. There are also parallels with the more famous monumental work by the Lion’s creator, Frédéric Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty, offering protection to those arriving in the new world «give me your tired, your poor ...».
These are works where sculptures or installations provide a protective, vigilant, but also a welcoming watch over a city or a region. The figure of The Vigil, as imagined by Joanne Leighton, is one that draws attention firstly to the people around us, and secondly to the quality of time, a time suitable for reflection and meditation. In transposing this intimate experience to the scale of a city, it is also an opportunity to question the link, private and singular, that each person maintains with the city and its surroundings, and through that, to reinforce a sense of citizenship.

The idea of a continual presence over a longer time span is also important for the work and parallels the playing of the last post every evening at the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium, a tradition which has continued on a daily basis since 1929.

For example, for The Belfort Vigil (2011), after exploring numerous possibilities the site chosen for the project was the terrace of the Citadel of Belfort, a position that offers a 360 degree view of the city. In Rennes (2012), the performance took place from the roof of the Chambre de Métiers building, overlooking Place Charles de Gaulle, while for the Freiburg Vigil (2015), the Vigil took place from the top of the theatre, becoming a temporary exterior stage on the roof of the theater.

The presence of The Vigil becomes an icon and a reference point for the inhabitants and passers-by.


Les déplacements des groupes d’individus déambulant dans les rues de la ville, ces mouvements simultanés mais non synchronisés, inconscients des autres mais semblant, de mon point de vue, une danse parfaitement chorégraphiée par une main divine.
Davy Chou, Automne 2011

Cette expérience de l’aube est avant tout celle de l’apparition du soleil. Le plaisir ancien, enfantin, oublié, m’a envahi à ce moment précis. Il ne me quittera pas.
Sylvain Pigault, Printemps 2012

Production WLDN | With the CCNFCB, from 19/09/2011 to 20/09/2012 |

© Photos : WLDN/Joanne Leighton