Posts Tagged 'sound art'

Funeral Procession for the Death of Public Services

There will be a funeral precession for the death of our public services on the day of the Royal Wedding, Friday 29th April at 12.30pm. Rosanne Robertson and I will be giving a talk about the cuts to the arts from our own perspectives. Please RSVP to the Facebook event. You must wear funeral attire as a symbolic gesture.

Exhibition: A Map of You at Text Festival, Bury.

I am over the moon to announce I have been asked to exhibit some of my collage series, ‘Leftovers’ at the Text Festival in Bury, Greater Manchester. This is from the site:

The Text Festival in Bury is an internationally recognised event investigating contemporary language art (poetry, text art, sound and media text, live art). Opening on 29 April 2011, the next Festival will be its third manifestation and run into July.

Against the background of global stylistic multiplicity, the use of language spans many artforms and may even be a unifying field of enquiry, a new definition and a new field of international linguistic art practice and dialogue. The Bury Festival is the leading focus of language in 21st Century art.

The Festival specialises in experiments, in new experiences, in performances and exhibitions that mix artforms in ground-breaking combinations that challenge traditional language art boundaries and offer artists a forum for dialogue and exchange of ideas.

Art Monthly commented of the Festival:

“According to Foucault, the singularities that serve
to rupture and renew normative discourse
always emerge from the interstices – in other words, where nobody is looking. Almost certainly nobody was looking
in the direction of Bury for the emergence of this significant project…”

My work will be exhibited in a show curated by Philip Davenport called A Map of You, part of the Text Festival. Tony Trehy is the overall curator of the Text Festival. The show features truly innovative writers and artists from past and present. I’m very moved to be part of it:

Bury’s newest museum opens its fascinating space and collection to interventions and installations secreted as playful gestures and paratactic commentary. The show will feature works by Matt Dalby, Márton Koppány, Liz Colini, Peter Jaeger & Kaz, Bob Cobbing, participants in the Map of You Project and many more.

Curated by:

Phil Davenport

Commissioned by:

Text Festival & Bury Transport Museum

Ticket Prices:

Adult: £2.80; Child: £1.90; Concession: £1.90;Venue:

Bury Transport Museum

Castlecroft Road

Bury

http://www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk/bury-transport-museum-2/

Performance at The Other Room – Video and Reflections.

Some of the words I ate during this performance:

flesh

blood

woman

kill

Scott chose and passed to me:

ordinary poet

This was my first participatory performance. I had decided to place myself on a table for two around the corner of the pub from where the other performers were situated as the position and size seemed to fit my purpose quite well. I asked the compare, Tom Jenks, not to announce the performance but rather to direct people to the other side of the room. I wanted the performance to seem more like it was just something that was happening, not a ‘show’.

I set up two dinner places at the table, one opposite me with wine, plates and books. The books sat on a meat tray. The selection of books I eventually decided to use were Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue, Plato’s Republic, an old Girls Annual from the 1950’s, and a large well bound edition of the Bible, which on reflection was probably too large for the table setting. There is always a humorous element to my selections, anything that makes those kind of connections and puns are always going to get a giggle and I won’t shy away from them. I don’t try to avoid the obvious choice for the sake of it. For one, if it’s obvious to me it isn’t necessarily for someone else. I think that’s the only reason to avoid a strong connection like that is usually just for the sake of it. Those connections click into place because of our cultural, social and political backgrounds which are things I intend to expose in this work and in most of the work I do. Not in any sort of bland and obvious way though, I hope! I am quite confident that there is enough innovation and experimentation in my practice and my approach that I can use things that are seemingly ‘obvious’ without fear of the work becoming bland or closed in its reading.

I decided that I would gesture to someone in the audience to participate in the performance. I poured myself some wine and looked up, Scott Thurston was the first person I saw so I gestured to him to come and sit at the table, without speaking. Scott as a participant was probably the ideal choice, although this was unintentional. Scott is a poet and a lecturer so is used to performing. Saying that, everyone would have responded differently, no matter what their performance background.

I poured Scott a glass of wine as he sat down, then I passed him the Orbach book. Scott seemed very at home he was certainly game, and played along in the manner of a very polite diner. This was different to the way I ‘play’ or don’t ‘play’ in this performance. The fact that Scott was there did encourage me to do a lot of smiling and being more animated than I usually would in this performance. I usually sit and concentrate quite intently at the books and don’t look up at all. I still didn’t look up very often at Scott, one of the reasons for this was for fear of laughing. When I did look up at the beginning of the performance once, I noticed large blobs of chewed up paper that Scott had spat out. This almost made me giggle. I always cut out each word meticulously, as much as possible, with a knife and fork. I found it satisfying to see that Scott had formed his own response to the performance. I chose some words that I found appropriate for Scott, because he’s male, to eat. I can’t remember what they were but it made sense at the time. This brought an element of interaction and communication to the performance that at first I thought of as too theatrical and cheesy. I have now decided that it almost made the whole thing more ‘realistic’ because of the falsity or ‘camp’ over politeness; the theatre of seeing people who don’t really know each other at a restaurant. Like an awkward first date, or ‘speed dating’ (or maybe not quite that strained!). It was satirical. And to eat abject and/or politically charged words in this context creates exciting juxtapositions.

This performance raised a number of issues. The composition was very different from when performing this alone. Previously, I have sat at a long table and have been posed in a way that resembles Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. I still wore the blue and maroon colours that Jesus wears in the painting but this was the only real allusion to the painting. Basically, the participatory performance was a different piece of work altogether.

There are ways I could make more of The Last Supper reference in a participatory vein. One would be to set up a long table, like in the painting with a number of place settings and as participants to wear colours that would allude to the painting. I could ‘direct’ people’s actions by writing instructions. I don’t think I would prescribe my own conceptual concerns to others, but maybe that could work. It’s not really a collaborative piece, it’s people participating in a piece of my work so it would make sense for participants to be aware of my practice and intentions.

The other issue that was raised again was the fact that the audience couldn’t see the words we were eating. I used a camcorder and projector at the events to project the words from the plate to a screen. This was technically quite difficult because of lighting and the size of the texts I used. I am also unsure I want to have such a large backdrop, although it was visually strong in itself. I hoped that the venue of the Old Abbey would be so intimate that the viewers would be able to look over my shoulder to see what I was eating, but I also need to factor in that people will not usually come so close to a performer during a performance. I’m still unsure how to resolve this.Kraak

Matt Dalby suggested that the lone diner was more uncomfortable to watch. In some ways the forced interaction and politeness may be more uncomfortable but for different reasons. There is not the same intensity with two diners. It was far more jovial, not so serious.

I’m now less clear about the work in some ways as it’s raised more questions than it’s answered. Having said that, it has made me realise what makes each piece work. I’m glad I took the risk. This may become another piece altogether. I still feel strongly that I’m never really ‘acting’ when performing. Of course I must act differently in front of an audience but I still don’t feel I’m playing a part, no more than I do every day in any given situation, existentially speaking. I feel pretty authentic. I certainly don’t feel like a phony. I feel that different parts of my personality come through with each type of performance. For example, my music performances are quite aggressive, sometimes actually violent, which is one of the main reasons I need to perform musically. The eating words performance is intense but quiet and contemplative. The collaborative work with Jennifer McDonald usually starts meditatively building up to aggressive and destructive peaks and troughs. I love performing in all these forms.

Dead Rat

I found a strangely mutilated rat while walking the dog around Hulme. I actually cried out when I saw it as I was so disturbed. It’s one of the most horrifying and fantastic things I’ve ever seen. It’s head was missing and it’s flesh was folded like a foreskin revealing much of the headless spine. I took some photos of it, I visited it a couple of times. I’ve grown very fond of this rat and have been drawing it and making objects that resemble it. I am fascinated by the abject… “No shit?”

I’m still trying to hone my watercolour techniques. It’s not easy. I’ve had some success but not much. Some of these are too careful. The freer ones work better but they still take a lot of work.

I decided to make a version of the rat using clay. I wanted to make an oversized version. I have thought about sound with it and can imagine the sound of rats scratching wood, like when you can hear them running under the floorboards. I need to do a lot of recording with live rats. I will approach some pet shops although it would be better to have the real sewer rats like the one I found.

I made a sort of armature with steel wire to support the clay.

I found that I wasn’t happy with the finish and the structure wasn’t strong enough to support the clay. I haven’t worked in this way with clay before so I have a lot to learn. I learnt that to dry clay without cracking you must dry it slowly and cover it with plastic and damp cloths (thanks Matt Dalby and Jennifer McDonald for the advice).

Mute. Performance Saturday 2nd October.

Mute is part of the Free for Arts Festival which is being held in a number of locations around central Manchester.

I’ll be performing in collaboration with Jennifer again with our plaster balls. The event will start at 8pm in Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Also performing are Gary Fisher, Edwyn Butler, Nicholas Donovan and Daniel Watson.

Bury ‘Wakes’ Performance with Jennifer McDonald

The highlight was when this guy started joining in at the end…

The performance clip is around 6 minutes in. A 10 minute video will be uploaded soon.

It was a novel experience performing on a Saturday afternoon in a grand and echoey Victorian art gallery… A bit of a difference to our last performance in a room above a boozy cafe on a Thursday evening.

The layout of the event was like a market with stalls along both sides and artists groups plying their wares. Some were present, some just appearing on small lonely screens on big wooden tables. The cold light of day and the fluidity of people coming in and out and walking around the huge space meant we didn’t feel like we had an audience in the same way as at Fuel. It felt looser. We decided to take our time and play for around half an hour, which we did.

It’s an odd experience performing improvised music/sound as your concept of time changes vastly. It almost feels strained to take your time. You feel you want to throw yourself into it. You do want this to happen, but if it happens too quickly, you don’t explore the sounds enough. You have to have some restraint to get the most out of your playing. I think the Victorian vibe helped keep the wolf from the door. This is sometimes not as enjoyable as just going ‘mental’ but the recordings always prove it pays off. I don’t care too much about the audience as you’ll never please everyone, especially if you try to, but you want to do your best and get the most out of the performance when you do it. That is also for the audiences benefit. I suppose if you please yourself, you can’t not please some. Performance is about playing for me. Art making is about playing. It was great at the end of the performance we got a young chap joining in smashing the bits up and really getting into it. We thought we might have really annoyed the staff at Bury but they were really good about it.

Magnus Quaife made a video that shows a gathering of sorts, although I didn’t really notice much at the time. The video is really well shot and I really want to get it on youtube but I’m a little inept at video technology. I’ll get it done soon.

Performance at Bury Art Gallery Saturday 4th September

I’m performing with Jennifer McDonald again using plaster spheres at Bury Art Gallery for When Artists Take Over:

For the first time in Bury Art Gallery’s history, the largest exhibition space
is being completely handed over to practicing local and international
contemporary artists for short experimental residencies. Installations will
showcase works by Magnus Quaife, Sarah Sanders and Irene Barberis. These
exhibitions and interventions are of short duration and unpredictable, so please
ring the Gallery on 0161 253 5878 to check timings and availability.

The event is on from 12-4pm. We’re performing between 1 and 2.


Louise Woodcock

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