Friday, 16 December 2011

mauro sambo @ london_resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

Mauro Sambo, "Raw Materials and Residuals", 2009
Strange relationships can come to your mind if you open your chackras while listening to music. As far as Mauro Sambo (Venice, Italy, 1954), one of the many possible references are Ives Klein paintings. That bright, vivid blue. 

Strange as it can seems, since Sambo's attitude is in some way at the opposite pole of Klein's. For sure Sambo's not that much a surrealist. Not only as a multi-instrumentalist (electric and acoustic bass, alto sax, bass clarinet, percussions, samplers, wind controller, Akai S3000XL), but also as a video artist and as a photographer he is really far from the kitsch, so often a (collateral?) product of what Bréton and his followers were planning when dealing with their own creativity (Ives Klein is a different topic, though ... I strongly suspect his negative attitude towards psychoanalisis preserved him, in some way).

It is a matter of fact, if you go and see some of the most celebrated movies made by Louis Bunuel ('Un Chien Andalou' above all), some of the most famous Salvador Dalì paintings; they all have in common (with some notable exceptions) an attitude towards movement that is at the opposite of the mainstream avant garde (since Charles Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du Mal"), going along in the XXth Century artistic expressions, with Artaud's 'theatre de la cruauté' and avant-garde music (post-serialism, improvisation, minimalism, electroacoustics, sound art), while the body art movement was a strange, sometimes impossible but real melting of the two tendencies. 

The art of Mauro Sambo in some way creates a field of immanence in which movement, standing still, music, visuals, sculpture, painting, photograph, are not clashing again but, instead, synthesizing by a tactile quality of the space coming out of the cage of sounds. This is clearly reflected by his videos, photos and sculptures.

Mauro Sambo, "Conversazioni" (2004)
Sambo is tracing a trip right in between stagnation and movement. If you're finding it all so boring, call it 'time' and I think you can get it anyway - if you know for sure what time is, that is not that obvious.

Take for instance "Il perdono purifica l'offeso" ('forgiveness purify the offended party'), his June 9th, 2011 performance with Matilde Sambo on oboe for the exhibition 'Sconfini 2011' in the Archeological Museum of Modena. 

It begins with a reference to the zen concept of Mu ('the void'), while the superimposed images of Sambo's nude torso and of ancient Roman tablets gave space to a site for extracting marble and the process of the extraction itself. Matilde and Mauro Sambo were improvising over the images in real time with wind controller and then manipulating a piece of marble, amplified with a contact microphone. 

"I don't take myself as a musician, but as a visual artist. I deal with sounds the same way I do with materials related to my visions. Maybe in another life I've been a musician: in my family I was listening to Frank Sinatra, Claudio Villa, while from 16 on, with no one teaching, I was putting an ear to John Coltrane, Stockhausen, Van Der Graaf Generator, Anthony Braxton -- I don't know music in any way, I can't read it, all I do is coming from my passion and my insight".

Pleased and displaced at the same time by the growing attention of music journalists for his music, also since his last outputs with the Turkish label re:konstruKt, Mauro Sambo - as younger artist Sabrina Siegel possibly - is here to show us an alternative to the cristallization of improvised music in a pure style while on the other hand it really attempt as a result to put the video/sound art movement away from the dialectics 'becoming minor' (=staying of the subject of the molecular) vs 'becoming major' (=absorbing structures from contemporary music or popular electronics). Precious hints for future developments? I strongly believe so. 

In "Conversazioni" ('conversations'), his live performance I loved the most (I suspect because the nearest to a free jazz concert, as far as the urgency coming out of the music) Sambo and his mates are playing while people is building around them cages. The 'percussion cage' Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman were building more than 40 years ago is no more (exclusively) a rhythmyc/coloristic issue, but a true hint to visualize and open (instead of caging) music itself. 

Mauro Sambo, without title, 
I'd wish to have enough time and space to narrate his entire video and audio production, but an article on a blog is not the right place, unluckily. But putting his videos under a radar, it is possible to notice many particles resonating part of the  alternative culture of the Sixties and Seventies.

One video is entitled 'Inner Mountain Flames', while 'Polaroid' can call to mind a similar work by Mario Schifano, and the first part of the time Mauro Sambo and I spent since September exchanging audio and video material of all sorts, was dedicated to both historic bands from the Industrial music scene in Russia, and to ethnic music from all over the world.

All this snapshots, metaforically speaking, are far from being re-sistematized. The best way to describe Sambo's way of dealing with sounds and materials is referring to Jorge Louis Borges 'Transmutations', epigraphising Sambo "Apparente controllo del tempo" ('Apparently controlled time'). 

It is impossible to control the ageing of an artwork, but at the same time the oxidization on the metal plates is representing the individual scream, the revolt of the artwork itself against death; oxyde, rust, as the fire of the ancient myths, is constantly changing the way the artwork looks like, and so, through ageing, it comes really to life. It's almost the same with water in two of Sambo's most touching video: the long, merciful "The Long Hello (a Virginia mia madre)" and "My father, my job, my life". 

It is not impossible now to understand why the brightness of Sambo's creativity can be compared with Ives Klein: both are jumping into life, and both are in some way giving shape to an art that is more than one form of art, but that let materials and styles pass through life itself. 

Mauro Sambo on Soundcloud:

"quel mutamento era il primo di una serie infinita" (self-produced, 2010)
"... di origine oscura" (re:konstruKt, 2010)
"presto (dicono) giungerà la neve" (self-produced, 2011)

"Mauro Sambo video & musica" (ossido video, 2008)
"Sconfini 2011" (self produced)

"Un lungo viaggio immobile" (Fondazione Querini Stampalia Onlus, Venice, 2002)

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