Paul Kneale, Holly White & friends @ V22 studios, Oct 25

25 October 2013

Making their debut just last week at Jesse Darling‘s Alt Frieze party, art world super band Lead Pipe, featuring Charlie WoolleyHarry BurkePaul KnealeTom Clark and Remy Lamont), will appear alongside Holly White’s DJ-production project with Josh Grigg, Goth Tech tonight, October 25  at V22 studios.

There’ll also be a zine workshop, videos, noodles and bubble tea. At least, that’s what the trailer says.

See the V22 website for specifics. **


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Unconscious Archives two-day program announced

22 October 2013

The “body’s appearance and disappearance” is the central theme of Unconscious Archives’ The Perfect Medium is the Wrong Message, a two day program, working across sound and film, and running in East London venues, Cafe Oto and Apiary Studios, November 1 and 2.

The Friday will feature a rarely screened  Malcolm Le Grice’s Horror Film 1, as well as light performance by Amy Dickson, flame-sound sculpture from Aura Satz, Sally Golding‘s projection piece ‘Face of An Other’ and Sir Gideon Vein‘s live TV pilot. The Saturday will feature a presentation on the spirit of early cinema by Guy Edmonds followed by a seance for home movies with ‘mediums’ Gary Wright and Demian Allen, personal pulp theatre from Tai Shani, Possession Trance as DDD from Ryan Jordan of noise=noise and experiments for a bed time dancefloor by TVO.

See the  Unconscious Archives website for more details. **

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Berlin Art Week reviewed

24 September 2013

Berlin Art Week is a collaboration between eleven of Berlin’s leading contemporary art institutions, this year running from September 17 to 22. With four of them joining up this year to present painting exhibitions under the Painting Forever! banner some may have felt that the event was skewed towards the more traditional arts. But elsewhere in the program it went the other way. At the art fair, abc – art berlin contemporary, painted canvases were a rare sight, with time-based and site-specific works rising to the fore. Moreover, the addition of ten new institutions to the program, the majority of them project spaces, allowed for a more diverse and experimental program, a noticeable trend being an abundance of performance-based works. With many of the major institutions simply opening their six-month long exhibition projects, performance allowed the art week to be what it purports –a temporary and experience based affair.

abc continues to maintain that it is not strictly an art fair, despite being an event which invites galleries to present artists. Its main point-of-difference lies in its sprawling interior architecture (which dispenses with traditional white booths), and encourages larger installations and site-specific works. This year more than ever, galleries seemed to respond to abc’s more experimental format, exhibiting more ephemeral applications. One such was Laura Lima’s work, presented byBrazil’s A Gentil Carioca) where a hand reached from underneath a white wall, struggling to grasp some keys placed just out of reach. Occasional passers-by kicking the keys closer only to have them thrown-away again, the hand continuing its fruitless search.

Emi Hariyama, Marcus Doering, Lower Order Ethics and Peter Kirn, 'Thresholds' (2013) @ Collegium Hungaricum Berlin.
Emi Hariyama, Marcus Doering, Lower Order Ethics and Peter Kirn, ‘Thresholds’ (2013) @ Collegium Hungaricum Berlin.

Meanwhile, performance was incorporated into the format with independent Parisian art-space Shanaynay curating an area where selected galleries staged two-hour-long exhibitions. While these shows ranged from more literal executions (a woman wielding a bull whip), to behind-the-scenes preparation (walls being painted), the nature of the display and its fixed duration, rendered all of these exhibitions performance. While this idea of a performed exhibition is not a new concept, it was a very fitting one for abc, which is seems to be encouraging and attracting time-based arts and innovative modes of display.

While abc displayed the exhibition-as-performance, Schinkel Pavillon, a space for contemporary sculpture, displayed the studio-as-performance. Over four-days the Viennese relational art group, Gelitin, created sculptures based on their conversations with twelve Berlin-based artists. Each evening the group exhibited a kind of open-studio where they would create the sculptures. Kicking aside some paint-splattered balloons, I entered the space late on a Saturday to see a stage strewn with garbage, half-formed sculptures and random objects. Minimal synth music played while a monotonous voice read from a German text. One artist was making hot chocolate, while another, a manly looking guy wearing plastic boobs, drilled together some broken chairs. A fourth, wearing an apron and a “Josef Boys” t-shirt, attempted to bring some order to the space, picking up rubbish and arranging objects. After Thursday’s performance, BpigsAdela Lovric wrote: “if somebody wanted to make a cliché portrait of Art, it would look pretty much like Schinkel Pavillon yesterday.” But this total cliché also seemed more than a little tongue-in-cheek. Being performed was a kind of ultimate sculptors studio, a hedonistic space allowing maximal experimentation. And with the knowledge that Gelatin were making art-works based on other artists’ ideas, their sculptures seemed more performance and parody than original creation.

Gelatin, 'Stop Anna Ly Sing' (2013), performance view @ Schinkel Pavillon.
Gelatin, ‘Stop Anna Ly Sing’ (2013), performance view @ Schinkel Pavillon.

Worlds away from the tactile messiness at Schinkel, was the slicker and technologically savvy performance curated by MOMENTUM; a platform for time-based art in Berlin. In an interdisciplinary performance at the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, ballet dancer Emi Hariyama interacted with projected light and digital animation created by Dr. Marcus Doering. In the first and most refined section, a shifting outline of Hariyama was projected onto her body, giving her a flickering neon halo. This trace then proliferated, so that various digital bodies moved in increasing delay from the original figure. As the performer moved through a variety of interactive effects, the performance began to feel like a series of increasingly novel tricks, each based on the premise that the dancer was triggering changes in the digital imagery. So while there were moments of innovation, it also fulfilled every expectation that might arise from the description “multimedia contemporary dance”.

The most pure forms of performance art were at a survey of Turkish artists, presented as part of a longer running project by the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) and TANAS. Held inside the decadent Art Nouveau theatre of HAU 1, performances seemed to address conventions of classical theatre and performance. Ayşe Erkmen’s work ‘7 Times’ (2013), saw a large metal bar, the kind that would usually hold large set backdrops, lowered and raised seven times. The sound of the bar dropping managed to convey the promise of a scene-change without ever delivering one. Annika Kahrs’ work ‘Strings’ (2010), entailed members of a classical string quartet changing places during the performance, forcing each musician to play instruments they had little proficiency in.

Across the different forms of performance art at Berlin Art Week, there seemed to be a preference for cross-disciplinary works. In two instances, performance was treated as a condition that could be applied to something else: abc “performed” exhibitions, Schinkel Pavillon “performed” an artists studio. MOMENTUM presented the most obvious coming-together of different mediums, while pieces for n.b.k and TANAS used contemporary performance to reinterpret more traditional theatrical forms. As performance art becomes increasingly included in the kind of big art events that it used to be largely excluded from, there seems to be a tendency to show it in reference to other art forms. So while this year’s performance inclusions at Berlin Art Week proved interesting, it could also be presented as a stand-alone medium. **

Berlin Art Week runs across venues in Berlin, Germany, annually in September.

Header image: Emi Hariyama, Marcus Doering, Lower Order Ethics and Peter Kirn, ‘Thresholds’ (2013) @ Collegium Hungaricum Berlin. Photo by Jessyca Hutchens.

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Ten minutes with (c) merry

1 August 2013

“Everything is extremely linear on Facebook,” says Maria Meixnerová, under her “krvavamera” name on Skype, roughly an hour before her first post on Chloë Flores Facebook Page. A cheesy YouTube video introduction comes in the form of “esomary”, leaning on one knee, explaining her project within a magnificent backdrop, breathing heavily while a wasp crawls over the camera lens. On her website she describes herself as a “CRAZY FREAK WITH NO SENSE OF DIGNITY, LIVING IN MY OWN UNIVERSE” and, while I don’t know about the “crazy freak” part, there is something rather odd, though interesting about her approach to world-building and multiplicity in her practice.

Based in the Czech Republic but living on Facebook, Meixnerová is a net artist starting a month long residency on a profile page. As part of a three year project of Los Angeles curator, Chloë Flores, Meixnerová – otherwise known as “(c) Merry”, “Mary Meixner” or “esomary” (depending on the online platform) –will be exploring Facebook as a medium for temporal metrical sculpture, inspired by experimental film makers like Peter Kubelka and Kurt Kren in Austria, Paul Sharits and Michael Snow in North America. Because, in the same way that these artists look at film beyond narrative –where light, installation and sound all play an important role in the audience’s perception of a work –Meixnerová aims to subvert the restrictive user interfaces of professionalised social media by using only the basic components of Facebook to disrupt the “stream”.

aqnb: The user interface of Facebook is so restrictive but, as with so many “professionalized” social media networks, users still find a way to to create and innovate within these rigid paradigms. Is that something you’re thinking about with this project?

Marie Meixnerová: Yeah, naturally. But when I use Facebook, or most people who use Facebook and are in contact with me are aware of these restrictions and are trying to work with them. I wanted to show that, even within this so limited space, where it’s like so ‘the big brother is watching you’, and it’s so restrictive, even within this space you can make some art. It’s not, let’s say, ‘politically coloured’ or reacting to those restrictions etcetera. I just take it as space you can work within, even when restricted. It is something that really scares me because people take all those restrictions as natural, in time. You just get used to it. But it is really not the theme of my sculpture. It’s something that I try to avoid.

aqnb: In terms of being political about it?

MM: Yeah. I’m also really, I don’t want to say worried, but I have some doubts about how this will develop because Chloë lives in Los Angeles, in America, and I’m in Europe. I’m a little bit afraid that, if she’s logging in on her profile, and I log in, because Facebook monitors those things, that she’s in the USA and I’m in Europe, I’m a little bit worried that it will want me to recognise my friends, or Chloë’s friends and I won’t be able to login on time to post something.

aqnb: You’ve plugged this as possibly the ‘first Facebook sculpture’ and then you said that Facebook is a sculpture in itself, so essentially you’re making a sculpture within a sculpture. That’s a bit meta.

MM: Yeah [laughs] but when thinking about Facebook within itself, it’s quite specific. It’s different because my approach is thinking about Facebook as a physical environment and creating within that environment. Most internet artists would say that they live on the internet and I feel, at this particular time, I’m not living that much on the internet as I live on Facebook; I take it as my natural environment right now. It’s similar as if I was living in the Czech Republic and I’m doing the First Czech sculpture [laughs].

But, for this one, I really take Facebook as a medium and as material, similar to these artists working with film. I really take Facebook as a kind of film strip that has, not only sound and image, silence and light, but it has many more elements, as I said, ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ and stuff.

aqnb: Are you saying that you don’t work as if you live on Facebook but you’re working with it as a medium?

MM: Right now, yes. I’m working with Facebook. As you see, I’m a little bit contradicting myself, or it might seem so, but I look at it this way: I feel like I live on Facebook and, I did many performances before on Facebook, but in this project, I take Facebook as a medium; taking its basic features as material and creating a sculpture. Now, it’s almost physical for me.

aqnb: So then, do you live in the Czech Republic or on Facebook?

MM:I live in both but more in Facebook than in Czech. I take Facebook everywhere with me; everywhere I have a connection to the internet, it’s my home. **

(c) merry will be performing her Facebook sculpture at Chloë Flores Facebook Page from August 1 to 31, 2013.

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The Knife @ Roundhouse reviewed

14 May 2013

I am not a man!/ I am not a woman!/ I am both/ I am neither/ If you don’t like it/ take a breather! So announces Miguel Gutierrez between work outs during his DEEP Aerobics set.  An acronym for Death Electric Emo Protest Aerobics, there’s no doubting the intention of Gutierrez’s celebration of the non-essentialist form and, by extension, the entire oeuvre of The Knife. Performing at London’s Roundhouse in support of the release of their explicitly Third Wave, post-structural opus to feminism gone AWOL, Shaking the Habitual, the Swedish duo give added meaning to the oft-quoted maxim of Gender Trouble author Judith Butler’s, “we are always in drag”.

As a band who’s very image is unclear -an outfit taken to hiding their faces behind masks, conducting interviews only through Skype -it’s no surprise that their second tour in 14 years and five albums would feature an interrogation of performance, authenticity and artifice. Hence, the enveloping ambient opener, cast into darkness and the following confusion of who’s performing what, if at all.

The Knife. Image courtesy of bangon pr.

There are several people on stage in brashly glittering gowns and eye make up. The layers come off at times, back on at others –hanging limp on a coat hanger when uninhabited. A bizarrely shaped tuneless guitar is played through a rotating roster of dancers –male, female, ambiguous –while vocals are handled by all, occasionally taking turns in addressing the audience with the odd “hello London!” while Karin Driejer-Andersson’s voice is seemingly channelled through these flesh and bone vessels during songs. The lights go off for the droning ambience of ‘Old Dreams Waiting to be Realised’ and ‘Fracking Fluid Injection’, no staged distraction from the unsettling mood of frustration and urgency that the track generates as a twirling fluoro whistle tube becomes the focus and only light among the shadows. Performers take up drums sticks and pretend to drum, pose and mimic performance, with their silent instruments over a backing track.

Needless to say Dreijer-Andersson and Olof Dreijer are not there. At least not explicitly. It’s hard to say because no one’s wearing a name tag and having never been offered a photo, cross-dressing, wigs and masks make it impossible to distinguish fiction from reality. But then what is reality anyway? As Olof has repeatedly told press, everything’s a performance; pictures can be deceiving and captions misleading.

Depending on your disposition, you could interpret The Knife live as one big hoax perpetuated at the expense of its audience or a brilliant expression of the complexities of human interactions, the redundancy of categorisation and liberation of transcending them. Judging by the shamelessly cavorting crowd, trembling in unison with euphoria, it’s likely they’re of the latter camp. **

The Knife’s Shaking the Habitual is out on Rabid/Brille Records now.

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Factory Floor x Simon Fisher Turner Collaboration @ ICA.

Factory Floor x Simon Fisher Tuner.
21 February 2013
Simon Fisher Turner will be performing reworkings of sounds from the forthcoming album of UK post-industrial, Factory Floor, as part of their artist residency at ICA London on March 14. The performance anticipates their second album since 2010’s Untitled on BLAST First (petite), while being the third, after Peter Gordon and Hannah Sawtell, this year.

Turner composer is best known for his scores on late-director Derek Jarman’s films, including Caravaggio and Blue, and contributed music to cross-disciplinary artists Ryuichi Sakamoto and Tomoyasu Hirano’s Kizuna project, in aid of disaster-stricken Japan. He is currently working on the restoration of a 1924 film about George Mallory and Andrew Irvine’s doomed expedition, The Epic of Everest, while Factory Floor member Nik Colk ‘Void’ recently collaborated with her industrial forebears Carter Tutti (aka Chris & Cosey) for their Transverse release, out on Mute last year. See here for more info.**

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I’m not playing

25 January 2013

Next week, there’s a pretty good reason to be in Berlin, Transmediale will be taking place throughout the whole week (and we’ll be there to cover it of course), at the same time CTM Fest runs a parallel program. But then… there’s all these small events happening here and there, like Marco Mendeni‘s “I’m not playing” on Tuesday @ Altes Finanzamat.

I’m not playing” is Mendeni’s latest collaborative piece with musician Bob Meanza and the also musician and founding-member of Altes Finanzamt Filipe Dias De; an audiovisual performance for hacked videogame and real-time sampler which sits perfectly within the transmedia context the German capital will experiment next week.

Im not playing invite
Im not playing invite

A little proposal filled with contaminated games and social experiments, more info on how to get there this way.

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44th and Landis Performance

5 January 2013

Transmedia artist and big lover of toy music boxes, turntables and other nice plasticy things Margaret Noble recently uploaded on-line a few visual elements of her latest performance @ The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego…. “44th and Landis“, a mix between a 19th century storyteller and a modern electronica live performance…

Described as a highly gestural performance which “creates an experimental narrative that blurs the lines between two critical time periods: the 1980s urban culture and the Victorian era”, Margaret keeps mixing, like in many of her previous works, our childhood most beloved toys and many other found objects together with her own synths for another trip into fantasia.

From 44th and Landis Performance (Image via Margaret Noble)
From 44th and Landis Performance (Image via Margaret Noble)

Many more images and also most of her highly recommended artworks can be seen on her website.

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The Minstrel and his Acrobats

27 July 2012

Sometimes a performance has an intelligent concept, talented performers and a beautiful choreography, but the piece does not become an ensemble. As such I would describe Kitsou Dubois and Fantazio’s “L’Été en Apesanteur” currently showing at the Théâtre de la Cité on the Cité Universitaire campus in Paris’ 14th arrondissement.

Contemporary dance is a vague label. In this performance, the ‘contemporary’ is Dubois’ circus-styled choreography, involving acrobats and a diabolo performer (not, apparently, called a diabolist). Dubois, interested with the human body’s relationship with its physicality and its escape therefrom, invites us into her concept of feeling and flight in her space of anti-gravity, hence the “apésanteur” (weightlessness).

Perspectives, le temps de voir - Kitsou Dubois (photo via KDubois)
Perspectives, le temps de voir – Kitsou Dubois (photo via KDubois)

Using music and short film projections to provide dimensionality to the performance, “L’Été en Apesanteur” showcases four incredibly talented acrobats, three of which are aerialists and the fourth a toss-juggler, performing against a variety of sounds and images as well as Fantazio, musician and actor.

Continue reading The Minstrel and his Acrobats

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