Thursday, 16 February 2012

yer wallet [pt. 3] @ london_resonance

selection _ gian paolo galasi

"Carnal Art" Manifesto

(L'Art Charnel)


Carnal Art is self-portraiture in the classical sense, but realised through the possibility of technology. It swings between defiguration and refiguration. Its inscription in the flesh is a function of our age. The body has become a "modified ready-made", no longer seen as the ideal it once represented ;the body is not anymore this ideal ready-made it was satisfaying to sign.


As distinct from "Body Art", Carnal Art does not conceive of pain as

redemptive or as a source of purification. Carnal Art is not interested in the plastic-surgery result, but in the process of surgery, the spectacle and discourse of the modified body which has become the place of a public debate.


Carnal Art does not inherit the Christian Tradition, it resists it! Carnal Art illuminates the Christian denial of body-pleasure and exposes its weakness in the face of scientific discovery. Carnal Art repudiates the tradition of suffering and martyrdom, replacing rather than removing, enhancing rather than diminishing - Carnal Art is not self-mutilation.

Carnal Art transforms the body into language, reversing the biblical idea of the word made flesh; the flesh is made word. Only the voice of Orlan remains unchanged. The artist works on representation.

Carnal Art finds the acceptance of the agony of childbirth to be anachronistic and ridiculous. Like Artaud, it rejects the mercy of God -Henceforth we shall have epidurals, local anaesthetics and multiple analgesics ! (Hurray for the morphine !) Vive la morphine ! (down with the pain !) A bas la douleur !


ORLAN, No Comment
I can observe my own body cut open without suffering !....I can see myself all the way down to my viscera, a new stage of gaze. "I can see to the heart of my lover and it's splendid design has nothing to do with symbolics mannered usually drawn.

- Darling, I love your spleen, I love your liver, I adore your pancreas and the line of your femur excites me.


Carnal Art asserts the individual independence of the artist. In that sense it resists givens and dictats. This is why it has engaged the social, the media, (where it disrupts received ideas and cause scandal), and will even reached as far as the judiciary (to change the Orlan's name).


Carnal Art is not against aesthetic surgery, but against the standards that pervade it, particularly, in relation to the female body, but also to the male body. Carnal Art must be feminist, it is necessary. Carnal Art is not only engages in aesthetic surgery, but also in developments in medicine and biology questioning the status of the body and posing ethical problems.


Carnal Art loves parody and the baroque, the grotesque and the extreme.

Carnal Art opposes the conventions that exercise constraint on the human body and the work of art.

Carnal Art is anti-formalist and anti-conformist.

yer wallet [pt. 2] @ london_resonance

selection_ gian paolo galasi

Francesca Woodman, Untitled
4.1. In the legend “Before the Law,” Kafka represented the structure of the sovereign ban in an exemplary abbreviation.
Nothing – and certainly not the refusal of the doorkeeper – prevents the man from the country from passing through the door of the Law if not the fact that this door is already open and that the Law prescribes nothing. The two most recent interpreters of the legend, Jacques Derrida and Massimo Cacciari, have both insisted on this point, if in different ways. “The Law,” Derrida writes, “keeps itself [se garde] without keeping itself, kept [gardée] by a doorkeeper who keeps nothing, the door remaining open and open onto nothing” (“Préjugés,” p. 356). And Cacciari, even more decisively, underlines the fact that the power of the Law lies precisely in the impossibility of entering into what is already open, of reaching the place where one already is: “How can we hope to ‘open’ if the door is already open? How can we hope to enter-the-open [entrare-l’aperto]? In the open, there is, things are there, one does not enter there. . . . We can enter only there where we can open. The already-open [il già-aperto] immobilizes. The man from the country cannot enter, because entering into what is already open is ontologically impossible” (Icone, p. 69).

Seen from this perspective, Kafka’s legend presents the pure form in which law affirms itself with the greatest force precisely at the point in which it no longer prescribes anything – which is to say, as pure ban. The man from the country is delivered over to the potentiality of law because law demands nothing of him and commands nothing other than its own openness. According to the schema of the sovereign exception, law applies to him in no longer applying, and holds him in its ban in abandoning him outside itself. The open door destined only for him includes him in excluding him and excludes him in including him. And this is precisely the summit and the root of every law. When the priest in The Trial summarizes the essence of the court in the formula “The court wants nothing from you. It receives you when you come, it lets you go when you go,” it is the originary structure of the nomos that he states.

Stan Brakhage, Dog Star Man, part II

 In an analogous fashion, language also holds man in its ban insofar as man, as a speaking being, has always already entered into language without noticing it. Everything that is presupposed for there to be language (in the forms of something nonlinguistic, something ineffable, etc.) is nothing other than a presupposition of language that is maintained as such in relation to language precisely insofar as it is excluded from language. Stéphane Mallarmé expressed this self-presuppositional nature of language when he wrote, with a Hegelian formula, “The logos is a principle that operates through the negation of every principle.” As the pure form of relation, language (like the sovereign ban) always already presupposes itself in the figure of something nonrelational, and it is not possible either to enter into relation or to move out of relation with what belongs to the form of relation itself. This means not that the nonlinguistic is inaccessible to man but simply that man can never reach it in the form of a nonrelational and ineffable presupposition, since the nonlinguistic is only ever to be found in language itself. (In the words of Benjamin, only the “crystal-pure elimination of the unsayable in language” can lead to “what withholds itself from speech” [Briefe, p. 127].)

4.2. But does this interpretation of the structure of law truly exhaust Kafka’s intention? In a letter to Benjamin dated September 20, 1934, Gerschom Scholem defines the relation to law described in Kafka’s Trial as “the Nothing of Revelation” (Nichts der Offenbarung), intending this expression to name “a stage in which revelation does not signify [bedeutet], yet still affirms itself by the fact that it is in force. Where the wealth of significance is gone and what appears, reduced, so to speak, to the zero point of its own content, still does not disappear (and Revelation is something that appears), there the Nothing appears” (Benjamin and Scholem, Briefwechsel, p. 163). According to Scholem, a law that finds itself in such a condition is not absent but rather appears in the form of its unrealizability. “The students of whom you speak,” he objects to his friend, “are not students who have lost the Scripture . . . but students who cannot decipher it” (ibid., p. 147).

Being in force without significance (Geltung ohne Bedeutung): nothing better describes the ban that our age cannot master than Scholem’s formula for the status of law in Kafka’s novel. What, after all, is the structure of the sovereign ban if not that of a law that is in force but does not signify? Everywhere on earth men live today in the ban of a law and a tradition that are maintained solely as the “zero point” of their own content, and that include men within them in the form of a pure relation of abandonment. All societies and all cultures today (it does not matter whether they are democratic or totalitarian, conservative or progressive) have entered into a legitimation crisis in which law (we mean by this term the entire text of tradition in its regulative form, whether the Jewish Torah or the Islamic Shariah, Christian dogma or the profane nomos) is in force as the pure “Nothing of Revelation.” But this is precisely the structure of the sovereign relation, and the nihilism in which we are living is, from this perspective, nothing other than the coming to light of this relation as such.

[From Giorgio Agamben, "Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life", Stanford University Press, 1998]

yer wallet [pt.1] @ london_resonance

selection _ gian paolo galasi

Lucian Freud, Naked Portrait
"Alcibiades is about to begin his public and political life. He wishes to speak before the people and be all-powerful in the city. He is not satisfied with his traditional status, with the privileges of his birth and heritage. He wishes to gain personal power over all others both inside and outside the city. At this point of intersection and transformation, Socrates intervenes and declares his love for Alcibiades. Alcibiades can no longer be the beloved; he must become a lover. He must become active in the political and the love game. Thus, there is a dialect between political and erotic discourse. Alcibiades makes his transition in specific ways in both politics and love.

An ambivalence is evident in Alcibiade's political and erotic vocabulary. During his adolescence Alcibiades was desirable and had many admirers, but now that his beard is growing, his lovers disappear. Earlier, he had rejected them all in the bloom of his beauty becuase he wanted to be dominant, not dominated. He did not wish to be dominated by youth, but now he wants to dominate others. This is the moment Socrates appears, and he succeeds where others have failed: He will make Alcibiades submit, but in a different sense. They make a pact - Alcibiades will submit to his lover. Socrates, not in a physical but in a spiritual sense. The intersection of political ambition and philosophical love is "taking care of oneself".

2. In that relationship, why should Alcibiades be concerned with himself, and why is Socrates concerned with that concern of Alcibiades? Socrates asks Alcibiades about his personal capacity and the nature of his ambition. Does he know he meaning of the rule of law, of justice or concord? 

Paolo Gioli, Commutazioni Con Mutazione, 1969

Alcibiades clearly knows nothing. Socrates calls upon him to compare his education with that of the Persian and Spartan kings, his rivals. Spartan and Persian princes have teachers in Wisdom, Justice, Temperance, and Courage. By comparison, Alcibiades' education is like that of an old, ignorant slave. He doesn't know these things so he can't apply himself to knowledge. But, says Socrates, it's not too late. To help him gain the upper hand - to acquire techne - Alcibiades must apply himself, he must take care of himself. But Alcibiades doesn't know to what he must apply himself. What is this knowledge he seeks? He is embarrassed and confused. Socrates calls upon him to take heart.

In 127d of the Alcibiades we find the first appearance of the phrase, epimelesthai sautou. Concern for the self always refers to an active political and erotic state. Epimelesthai expresses something much more serious than the simple fact of paying attention. It involves various things: taking pains with one's holdings and one's health. It is always a real activity and not just attitude. It is used in reference to the activity of a farmer tending his fields, his cattle, and his house, or to the job of the king in taking care of his city and citizens, or to the worship of ancestors or gods, or as a medical term to signify the fact of caring. It is highly significant that the concern for the self in Alcibiades I is directly related to a defective pedagogy, one which concerns political ambition and a specific moment of life.

3. The rest of the text is devoted to an analysis of this notion of epimelesthai, "taking pains with oneself". It is divided into two questions: What is this self of which one has to take care. and of what does that care consist? 

[From: Martin, L.H. et al (1988) Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. London: Tavistock. pp.16-49.]

Sunday, 5 February 2012

a tribute to adonis @ the mosaic rooms 02/04/2012

words + photos _ gian paolo galasi

Adonis at the Mosaic Rooms, London - Feb. 04, 2012

On Augut 28, 2011 Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said Asbar, well known to the world as Adonis, was gifted with the Goethe prize in Frankfurt. First Arab poet, Adonis was granted for being “the most important Arab poet of our time” and claimed for his "eminent literary talent, his cosmopolitanism and his contribution to world literature"Born in Syria in 1930, on a public conference at the Mosaic Rooms during the exhibition Tribute to Adonis on February 4, 2012, the poet states that “poetry really gave me life”

If at the age of 12 the poet Edward Said referred to as ‘the most eloquent spokesman and explorer of Arab modernity’ encountered the then Syria’s first president - Syria gained independence from a French mandate in 1946, just to enter the Arabi-Israeli war in 1948 and subsequently pass through a period of instability until 1970's Hafez Al-Assad coup - to make him the gift of a poem; in this occasion the young poet asked him for the possibility to go to school, and once settled in Lebanon in 1956 Adonis helped establish the literary magazine Shi’r.

“When I first came to Beirut I really started to live freely, I regarded the city as my second home, as far as my intellectual development. Me and my friends founded a cultural magazine so to discuss about a poetic and intellectual revolution to make it spread through the Arab world”.

Adonis collages at the Mosaic Rooms exhibition until March 30, 2012
The idea of questioning Islamic tradition and its close relationship between culture, politics and religion passed through the inspiration coming from European philosophers like Nietzsche and Heraclitus and poets Charles Beaudelaire and Ezra Pound, just to find out how much similarities there were between the French symbolist poet and the Persian poet Abu Nuwas (756-814): “In Baudelaire the idea of life and of city change, leading to the modern Western world, and it was the same with Abu Nuwas centuries before.”

While Shi’r ceased his publications in 1964, Adonis started issuing his poems since 1968 with Lebanese literary periodical Mawaqif settling, before his scholarship in Paris in 1960-61, his peculiar mix of social revolution and poetic mysticism.

“Arabic culture was revolting against linearity, because linearity started to become associated with power, while uprightness was linked to the revolutionary thinking. […] As far as I’m concerned, a poem is a revolutionary presence. To see the world artistically means to see the world culturally, intellectually, integrally. There’s unity between culture, thinking, art.”

This striving for unity explains also Adonis interest in Sufi mysticism. While in 2005 the poet issued the book “Sufism and Surrealism”, claiming that if “in Christianism the Jewish God was changed in that, that he can become a man and the man can become a God”, while in Judaim and Islamism the human and the divine are split up forever, Sufi mystics were injecting this aspect of transformation into the Islamic tradition.

So, even if Dervisces were marginalized by Arabic society, Adonis claim mystics as the only, true revolutionary thinking coming out of the Islamic culture: “God usually is seen as a force external to the world, while in mysticism God embodies himself in the human”. If you think about what does it mean living under a religious dictatorship claiming that Mohamed’s is the last truth, and that so “man can only obey and pray”, you can easily understand the consequences of this choice.

“I fight in order to set up a society in which religion has been split up from society, where the woman has the same rights of a man, and society gives shape to his own identity. The problem doesn’t underlie only in power. Everybody talks about changing the power, but nobody talks about changing society. That’s why I chose Nietzsche, and Heraclitus”. This is the reason why Adonis says often that the tools of a revolutionary poet are not the same of a revolutionary politician.

And even if Adonis personally is “with Gandhi, against Che Guevara”, the issue of identity leads directly to the relationship between Sufism and Surrealism: “For Surrealists you can’t find reality on the surface, in the appearances, but in what’s invisible, in what’s underlying, it what’s hidden. Identity in mysticism is a perpetual creation, and men will become men in the future; their own identity doesn’t come from their own past.” And so the individual is central, in opposition to the collective.

For the unaware reader, the influence of Adonis in contemporary culture is wide, huge and sometimes unexpected. In 2003, the contemporary avant garde performer and singer Diamanda Galàs brought in his Defixiones: Will and Testament, dedicated to the Armenian genocide, Adonis’ poem “The Desert – Diary of Beirut Under Seige 1982. In 2008, the French post rock band L’Enfance Rouge performed on their album Trapani – Halq Al Waady, dedicated to migrations from Tunisi to Europe, beautifully enriched by the harmonics of oud and qanun, the poem “Tombeau pour New York”.

You can find traces and quotations from Adonis poems through plays as Wajidi Mouawad's Encendies, but the presence of his work is massive even in theatrical representations coming from North and central Africa, creating an interesting mélange with the poetics of metamorphosis and psychological notations on the disruption between politics and society à la Durenmatt.

While the extremely beautiful exhibition at Earl’s Court Mosaic Rooms shows the interest Adonis developed in Arabic writing – “my collages helped me in understanding the visual aspect of the art world, they are an extention of my poetry, and I think that sooner or later someone would have to start to write the history of the silent geniuses of Arabic manual ability”, one of Adonis last statements, about the proximity of Israel to the Islamic dictatorships, remembers the notes of another ‘exiled’ intellectual, Israeli-born documentarist Eyal Sivan, on the idea of memory and modernity, when he says, quoting his friend and Italian poet Andrea Zanzotto, that:

“In every society lies a conservative spirit and a innovator spirit. They both coexist. The conservative spirit is tied to money, power and religion. [...] Memory is a process, not something existing in someone’s mind. You have to connect everything but you have also to forget”.

This is the schedule for the remaining events at the Mosaic Rooms:
07.02.12 Islam, Sufism & Arabic Literature - in conversation with Omar Al-Qattan

08.02.12 Reflections on the Role of the Intellectual in Society - With the award-winning Chinese dissident poet Yang Lian 

01.03.12 20th century Baghdad: Architecture and Urban Space Lecture by Caecilia Pieri

The Mosaic Rooms

A.M. Qattan Foundation

Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road
London SW5 0SW

Related features:
Maya Jaggi interview with Adonis from The Guardian

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

schrei 27 @ london_resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

Leaflet for "Schrei 27"
On April 2011, Davide Pepe, known for his work with David Tibet/Current 93, but also accomplished independent filmmaker, previewed at the Barbican's Silk Street Theatre Schrei 27, inspired by the same titled radio work of Diamanda Galàs and created in collaboration with the singer.The movie will be worldly premiered on April 13, 2012 in Mexico City's Auditorio Del SME. 

Schrei 27 was recorded originally in 1994 for a radio broadcast commissioned by the New American Radio and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (US). Schrei is a German word for shriek, and "is something that is involuntarily produced – it comes from the back of the throat – it's a sound that sounds extreme, it's a protracted sound that people would say sounds inhuman.  It’s of such terror that it’s pushed out of the body", as Diamanda Galàs explains in interviews. 

In Schrei 27 Artist statement, Galàs wrote  "The piece Schrei 27 is a very violent piece psychologically. If a person is isolated too long from society with false promises of release which constantly are presented to demoralize her/him, a suicidal impulse starts and builds that becomes so strong that the day may be spent looking for ways to kill oneself."

Having as main issue torture in institutionalisation, and with the voice as the subject tortured, the work, subsequently issued by Mute on record along with Schrei X, a 1996 live performance at the NYC's Knitting Factory staged in complete darkness and in front of five microphones, Schrei 27 was finally developed as a quadrophonic installation in 2007, touring Spain and Canary Island.

Davide Pepe, "Little Boy" (2004)
Final act of a feverish period in which the San Diego-born singer put on record, since the 1990s, as diverse works as the vocal part of the performances Plague Mass and Vena Cava, the collection of gospel and blues The Singer, and the collaboration with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones The Sporting Life, the two versions of Schrei are the final and, for the moment, her most extreme avant garde statement.

Even if breaking Galàs' career in pieces just to have a chronological articulation would be superficial, it is also true that between Schrei and 2003's Defixiones: Will and Testament on the Armenian genocide, Diamanda Galàs released and toured mostly with song cycles, leading to records as Malediction and Prayer, La Serpenta Canta and Guilty Guilty Guilty, while working on still unissued projects as Insekta and Nekropolis - see her 2003 interview with Edward Batchelder The Politics of Disquiet for further details. 

"I have had a dream of the voice as a protagonist, - says Diamanda Galàs in an interview with Leslie Deree - as a horrific vocal spine to a black screen of flickering images.  I’ve wanted to do this for years, 20 if not more.  And when I saw Davide’s film Little Boy I grabbed his hand and asked him to do Schrei.  We discussed the idea that people should see what constitutes the singing of these sounds - the ribcage, the vocal chord.

Diamanda Galàs, "Schrei 27"
A few times doctors have asked if they could see how the vocal chords work – to conduct a recording made with a rubber tube down my throat making the sounds I make. This is important.  It explains why the voice is at the center – it’s ring modulated, distorted, delayed." 

The visual part of Schrei 27 was developed by Davide Pepe. "I followed the sound vibrations to make the light and movement of the body follow Diamanda's voice perfectly. The sound part of Schrei 27 appeared as a film to me from the first time I heard it. [...]

After this first step we started to inspire each other, adding new stuff each time inside the film - Diamanda's paintings, my sounds, Robert Knoke and Jim Provenzano’s photos of Diamanda, Dave Hunt’s sounds and mix of a part of the work and so on.

Each time one of us was suggesting something there was a new addition from the other part. [...] I should say what is for me, the film Schrei 27, I would define it as just an incredible short circuit between Diamanda and me." 

Since during last 2011 Diamanda Galàs worked also with Soviet dissident artist Vladislav Shabalin for "Aquarium", a sound installation inspired by the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, we expect for further, interesting developments in this new direction.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

aidan baker + nadja @ london _ resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

On February, 28 Important Records will release Excision, a double CD featuring eight tracks, whose lenght is from 10 to 23 minutes, taken from various splits or vynil-only releases of Nadja, the 'ambient-metal',  'ambient-doom', or 'metal-gaze' project of Aidan Baker (guitar, vocals, drums programming, piano, woodwinds) and Leah Buckareff (bass, vocals). 

Now Nadja is committed in a Japanese tour with label mates Vampillia - the 'brutal orchestra' coming from Osaka, the same city that gave birth to the Boredoms exactly 30 years ago - while in March the duo will tour through Europe - no dates in Uk still, even if I asked Aidan to keep me updated on the subject.

Releasing - even not for the first time - for a label whose roster features composers Eliane Radigue, noiser Merzbow, Makoto Kawabata's Acid Mothers Temple extreme psychedelia, sound artist Christina Kubisch and improvisers such as The 13th Assembly [my concert review here] means that it's time, for the now Berlin-based duo, to become recognised outside of the boundaries of such sub-genres as 'shoegaze' or 'metal' by a larger audience as one of the most interesting projects of experimental music you would be able to listen to today.

Aidan Baker is born in Toronto (Ontario, CA), in 1974. A musician classically trained in flute, self-taught on guitar, drums, and various other instruments, he started playing electrict guitar influenced by the likes of Caspar Brotzmann, Glenn Branca and Michael Gira, under his own name and in bands such as Nadja, Whisper Room, Infinite Light Ltd., Adoran, ARC and Mnemosyne.

Composer at the same times for The Penderecki String Quartet, The Riga Sinfonietta, and The Monday Morning Singers, his pieces for guitar are built layer upon layer around the script of stretched sabbathian riffs becoming long sheets of sound obtained in an improvised manner through pedals and effects; the result can be put side by side with Painkiller, Scorn, Sunn O))), Boris, Wolves in the Throne Room, while Aidan has the same makings of Christian Fennesz, Oren Ambarchi, Kevin Drumm or David Daniell.

In fact, the music of Aidan Baker is the result of a careful cross-pollination and sometimes the various niche's listeners found out themselves uneasy with an artist that doesn't love to step back between the boundaries: 

"all the categories and sub-categories are pretty ridiculous and I find it quite bizarre how people seem prone to ghetto-izing themselves [...] I try to incorporate different categories because I think that makes things more interesting... that said, my Nadja material is probably the least cross-pollinating, although it's not exactly "classic" doom metal (I've often had comments from metalheads that it's "too weird").

To make a distinction between "doom" and "drone" metal, you might say that drone is more experimental, in that it utilizes more of a minimalist mandate -- very little movement or variation, repetition, simple polyphonies -- within a maximalist sound. I think drone metal is comparable to some contemporary classical composers like Avro Pärt or Henyrk Górecki, except that one uses guitars and drums instead of strings (or whatever other traditional instruments)."
Aidan Baker interviewed by James Hoerner

While Baker's music can be generally described as somewhere in between post-rock, ambient, electronic and contemporary music, his different projects reflects his attitude beyond schemes and boundaries. Mnemosyne is a space-rock trio, ARC is dedited to improvised and experimental music, while Nadja is more keen on drones.

"I originally formed Nadja a solo, studio-based project in 2003 to explore the heavier, noiser side of drone music (compared to the more ambient, mellower music I make under my own name). Leah joined on bass in 2005 to bring the project out of the studio and perform live. [...] My Akai Headrush looping pedal is pretty integral to my sound. But as much as I rely on pedals, it's technique, not technology that should make the musician. 

[...] [Me and Leah] record in our home studio on a laptop, previously using Cubase but we recently switched to Logic (though we're still trying to figure out how the work the program). We generally record live and use the computer mainly for arranging and mixing and not for generating or effecting sounds."
- Aidan Baker interviewed by Amber Crain

Since 2003, the band has issued about 50 releases on cdr, vynil, 7'' through various labels - Deserted Factory, Nothingness, Alien8, etc. Sometimes the old material is reissued, either remastered or completely rearranged.

The tracks included on the new double Excision come from different recordings spanning from 2007 through 2010: the two versions of Autosomal are taken from the Bodycage Lp issued on Equation in 2007, while Kitsune (Foxdrone) is from 2008's Kodjak/Nadja on Denovali and the last Clinging to the Edge of the Sky was originally on a Vendetta/Adagio 12".

The tracks on the first CD, instead, are all coming from 2008 releases: the opening Jornada del Muerto from Trinity (Die Stadt), Perichoresis from Trinitarian (Important Rec.), Spahn from Tumpisa (Accident Prone), Kriplyana (Melted & Refrozen Snow That Looks Blue In Early Morning) from Magma to Ice (Fario). 

On Jan., 17, Robotic Empire released Baker's new solo effort The Spectrum of Destruction. Another double Cd, but featuring 97 tracks and 18 drummers on them: Mac McNeily (The Jesus Lizard), Ted Parsons (Swans, Godflesh, Jesu, Prong, etc.), David Dunnett (Ca Va Mal), Brandon Valdivia (Picastro), Richard Baker (ARC), Victor Cirone, Jakob Thiesen (Whisper Room, Nadja), Thor Harris (The Angels of Light, Shearwater, Swans), Geoff Summers (Batillus), Alessandro Curvaia (Shora), Simon Scott (Slowdive), Steven Hess (Locrian, Panamerican), Bruno Dorella (OvO), H. Walker (Kerretta), Andrew Crawshaw, Kevin Micka (Animal Hospital), Phil Petrocelli (Jesu, Great Falls, Grey Machine) were asked to provide drum loops over which Baker would have been able to play guitar and bass. 

Conceived as a record in which the listener is encouraged to shuffle through the tracks, the music is at the opposite of Nadja releases. "I wanted to try something big - a large scale project - that would take advantage, challenge, and/or make fun of technology (ipods, random/shuffle feature) and the way people now listen to music. [...]

I had initially intended The Spectrum of Distraction to strictly adhere to this [Aidan talks about the practice he called 'Xenochrony', partly coming from Frank Zappa's Shut Up 'N' Play yer Guitar, based on a random juxtaposition of independently recorded tracks], but as I received material from the various drummers, I thought it would be more interesting (or perhaps just listenable) to approach randomness within the album/songs itself, rather than the instrumentation." - Interview with Der Post Zum Rock

As various as a double CD featuring 97 tracks from less than 30 seconds to about 3 minutes can be, The Spectrum of Distraction reflects possibly Aidan's purpose to match against the solidifying of the music into formulas. 

At the same time, it's really interesting that his way of relating to both the composition and the listening of his work is the same a sound artist like Achim Wollscheid uses, projecting softwares in order to obtain a random generation of sound and light, and giving the listener, on CD, the opportunity to shuffle through tracks. The forthcoming Japan tour with Vampillia - and their March 2012 release The Primitive World - reflects Aidan's attitude towards studying new devices in order to renew and refurbish his music. 

Tour Dates currently available

nadja w/ vampillia japan tour 2012
28-01-12: Shibuya O-Nest, Tokyo, JP
29-01-12: Unagidani Sunsui, Osaka, JP
01-02-12: Club Quatro, Hiroshima, JP
02-02-12: Voodoo Lounge, Fukuoka, JP
03-02-12: Wakayama, Rub Luck Cafe, JP
05-02-12: Soup, Tokyo, JP

aidan baker w/ A-Sun Amissa
15-02-12: West Germany, Berlin, DE
16-02-12: Astrostube, Hamburg, DE
17-02-12: Christuskirke, Bochum, DE
18-02-12: (H)ear, Heerlen, NL
19-02-12: DB's, Utrecht, NL
20-02-12: Waggon, Offenbach, DE
21-02-12: Komma, Esslingen, DE
23-02-12: L'inventaire, Le Mans, FR
24-02-12: L'espace B, Paris, FR
25-02-12: Le Plané Ari Home, Wanquetin, FR

nadja w/ off the international radar
14-03-12: NK, Berlin, DE
15-03-12: Markthalle, Hamburg, DE
17-03-12: Vera, Groningen, NL
18-03-12: Magasin4, Brussels, BE
19-03-12: tba, Ghent, BE
20-03-12: Les Instants Chavires, Paris, FR
21-03-12: Allones, Le Mans, FR
23-03-12: Mix'art Mryrs, Toulouse, FR
24-03-12: L'Embobineuse, Marseilles, FR
28-03-12: Klub Place, Rijeka, HR
29-03-12: Rhiz, Vienna, AT
30-03-12: Kafe Kult, Munich, DE

Saturday, 21 January 2012

history of avant garde theatre [pt. 1] @ london_resonance

1. Antonin Artaud ["Pour en finir avec le judgement de dieu"] and Carmelo Bene ["Majakovskij"]

words _ Gian Paolo Galasi

Antonin Artaud
“Every real effigy has a shadow which is its double; and art must falter and fail from the moment the sculptor believes he has liberated the kind of shadow whose very existence will destroy his repose. Like all magic cultures expressed by appropriate hieroglyphs, the true theater has its shadows too, and, of all languages and all arts, the theater is the only one left whose shadows have shattered their limitations. From the beginning, one might say its shadows did not tolerate limitations. Our petrified idea of the theater is connected with our petrified
idea of a culture without shadows, where, no matter which way it turns, our spirit encounters only emptiness, though space is full. 

“All writing is garbage. People who come out of nowhere to try and put into words any part of what goes on in their minds are pigs. ” (Antonin Artaud, from "The theatre and its double")

After the end of the II World War, the French radio attended to recast all the abolished voices of the native culture of that time. One of them was the surrealist poet, playwriter, actor Antonin Artaud, that between Nov. 22 and 29, 1947, recorded for the French ORTF Radio the broadcasting of "Pour en finir avec le judgement de dieu" ["To have done with the judgement of god", with the minor 'g']. 

In Artaud intentions, the broadcast would have been, finally, an attempt to fully realize what he was seeking in his quest for a theatre that, in fact, advanced every form of contemporary performance art. 'Cruel', since refusing to get to an esthetic rendition and to go beyond the 'force' of the actions, while on the scene. The recordings involved Artaud's partner Paule Thévenin, actress Maria Casarés - featured as 'the death' in Jean Cocteau's "Orphée", his close friend and actor Roger Blin, plus xylophones as an introduction to the 'Tutuguri's [mexican indians - ndr] rite of the Black Sun', the centre of the text. 

Even if the broadcast is in some way the zenith of Artaud's researches on the subjects of theatre, ritual, and the difference between reality and representation, it is in many way incomplete, putting again the stress on the meaning of the words, focusing only here and there on the sound itself and of his vibrations. Only partially this passage from words to sounds becomes clear: when Roger Blin reaches some primeval rhythms or ritual chants, or when Maria Casarés stresses the vocals, moduling the frequences and so trying to orchestrate the sound of the voice itself. 

Carmelo Bene
"Theatre is a non-place, it is under cover from every history. It is beyond the evidence. The audience is a martyr - etymologically, 'witness'. But despite every effort, audience would never been able to tell about what he listened to, what possessed it in its surrendering" Carmelo Bene (1937 - 2002) was an Italian actor, playwriter, poet, movie director. He debuted in 1959 with a Caligola that was very appreciated by Albert Camus himself. 

Close friend and also a collaborator of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze - that gratified the actor with some beautiful pages from the second volume of his L'image-temps, and then wrote with him an entire book, Superpositions - and deep connoisseur of Pierre Klossowski, an intellectual at the border of official French culture but a pupil of Rainer Maria Rilke - Klossowski's mother was in a relationship with the poet - and of André Gide, Carmelo Bene was at the crossroads of the most important undercurrents of the 'alternative' culture of the 20th Century. 

Influenced by Nietzsche and structuralism, by the paintings of Francis Bacon and by James Joyce's Ulysses, in 1960 - and then again until the 5th edition in 1980 - he took the poems of Vladimir Majakovskij, the Russian revolutionary poet, as the starting point to his studies on voice, on voiding words from its meaning, and on using the voice itself as a full orchestra. 

Helped for the music initially by Sylvano Bussotti, and subsequently by his contemporary Gaetano Giani Luporini, Bene's quest for a theatre that goes beyond the meaning - representing the ego, betraying so his deep insights in Eastern traditions, but also the aesthetics in art - in 'Majakovskij' passes through the stretching of the dynamics and possibilities of the voice, emphasizing the words as a mix of gestures and phonetic elements. 

Through the years, Bene added to the 'theatre of the phoné' ideas taken from both structuralism and Nietzsche's philosophy about time. The result was a theatre in which every action were obstructed by every sort of empasse - Lorenzaccio - and in which an iconoclastic relationship with the image of the theatre itself pushed him to take some classics - Shakespear's Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III and Othello - rewriting the texts so to get rid of some elements, displacing or stretching distinguishing marks of the dramas in order to distort the original meaning, leaving only a score of gestures rhythmically conducted through a scheme reminiscent of Gilles Deleuze's in his 'Difference and repetition'

So in his Othello as an example, Jago is jealously in love with Othello himself - but without any reference to homosexuality, while Desdemona's handkerchief becomes bigger and bigger turning into a net preventing the assassination - suspension of the tragic; in his Hamlet, the prince of Denmark wants only to go to Paris with an actress - instead of playing with her the death of his father, transforming the famous 'to be or not to be' into 'to have or not to have', while Desdemona dresses as a lay nun just to be constantly slapped and smacked - out of eros and into the obscene; Macbeth and his lady, finally, are making their bed with bloody blankets that leave no traces on the bed himself.

"Now's the time to really start and have confidence with words. I don't mean 'the Word', as in 'the Gospel', but 'words'. Language fuck with you. It drills you. Language pierce you and you don't even notice. You spit on Einstein, on the best Freud, on the beyond of the principles of pleasure. You take up and clap the obvious, and made a prick out of it, in return of yours. [...] Art is piping, it is the will of self-espression." -- Carmelo Bene

"Being a stranger, but in your own language. Stuttering, stammering within the language itself, not only with the words. Bene would add: talking to yourself, but in the middle of the marketplace. Stuttering usually is a disorder of the language, but stuttering the language is something different. It means to impose to the language, to all the inner part of the language, phonologicals, syntacticals, semanticals, the plotting of a continuous variation [...] being a stranger in its own language ... It doesn't mean to talk as an Irish or a Rumenian talking French [...], it is dictating to the language, since we're talking plainly and soberly, the line of variation that will make out of everyone a stranger in its own language; or, out of a foreign language, our own language; or, out of our own language, a permanent bilinguism for our own extraneousness".

Antonin Artaud, Pour en finir avec le judgement de dieu [Sub Rosa, 1996]
Carmelo Bene, Il teatro laboratorio Majakovskij e Garcia Lorca [LP RCA Edizioni letterarie, 1962, out of print]
Carmelo Bene, Carmelo Bene - Majakovskij [Double LP Fonit Cetra, 1980, out of print]

Antonin Artaud, 'The theatre and its double' - Grove Press, 1994
Gilles Deleuze, 'Cinema 2: The Time-Image' - University of Minnesota Press, 1989
Carmelo Bene Gilles Deleuze, 'Superpositions' - Les Editions De Minuit, 1979

Thursday, 12 January 2012

sons d'hiver 2012 @ london resonance

words + photos _ gian paolo galasi

Last year I came to Vitry-Sur-Seine just to see Wadada Leo Smith and Gunter 'Baby' Sommer playing together. This first recognition culminated some months ago with my inteview with the trumpet player in Bologna during the AngelicA festival in May. The concert at the Theatre Jean Vilar was followed by a non completely satisfying performance of the Steve Coleman project titled 'Lingua Franca' [my reportage of both concerts in Italian for the webmagazine Elapsus, where you can access also to complete video footage of both the perforances].

Those two concerts were part of the 20th editions of the Sons D'Hiver festival, this year starting on Jan., 27 until Feb., 18 in different venues around the city of Paris. As every year, Sons D'Hiver will deal with the presentation of unedited concerts along with panel discussions and movies. For a complete view of the festival, you can check the full program of the concerts here.

The festival is connotated by some tributes (last year was the turn of Miles Davis and the 'blacksploitation' movie director Melvin Van Peebles). In this edition, Willie Dixon will be recognized as the sound scuptor and innovator he really was with a couple of concerts. Wadada Leo Smith and his band Organic will traslate the lexicon of the 'electric' Miles in our century leading us to a question: there is a relationship between Leo Smith, Willie Dixon and Miles Davis? 

Wadada Leo Smith and Gunther Baby Soemmer, 2011
For sure, and it is called spirituality, even if can be difficult to talk about it today: but while Wadada Leo Smith put in constant relationship his music with symbols, and a research for a ritualistic relationship between sound and space - and time, I would add - even if avoiding every reference to the blues as a musical style, but being so close to te source, the performance by Elliott Sharp and his quartet with Eric Mingus and Tracie Morris on voices, Melvin Gibbs on bass and Don McKenzie on drums, will emphasize how much Dixon identified himself and his music, even the most abstract, with the blues ("I am the blues").

Some days before, William Parker will present his work "How the World Changed It Self". Following one of his last rivers of inspiration leading him to blend together composition, improvisation and ethnic music - as on 2007 'Double Sunrise over Neptune' - with an ensemble featuring Mola Sylla on chant, mbira and doson 'ngoni, Sangeeta Bandhyopadhyay on chant, Bill Cole (double reeds, flutes), Rob Brown (alto), Klaas Hekman (bass saxophone), Cooper-Moore (percussions, piano, home-made instruments) and Hamid Drake (drums), Parker is now exploring another facet of his 'Universal Tonality' concept.

Other interesting acts will be Rob Mazurek's Sao Paulo Underground with Pharoah Sanders and the duets between Cooper-Moore and William Parker, pianists Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer, tenorist Archie Shepp and pianist Joachim Kuhn, but the program is really full of surprises, as the possibly interesting tribute to Duke Ellington made by the Benoit Delbecq - disciple of Alan Silva, Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Coleman and close collaborator of Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron.

Photos from "Sons D'Hiver", Vitry-Sur-Seine, 2011