zondag 9 juli 2017

Performance meet Q

Review Quartair

It’s been a while since we passed by the artist-space “Quartair” in the Hague, in fact quite a while –  our ‘Halitosis Convention’ was in August 2001, the ‘between two chairs’ presentation in September 2003... so it was great to see the place still alive and kicking (we had missed the 25year-aniverary bash the month before, but were trying to make good) ...
Chance conspired to get us there just at a moment when a few friends involved with various performance groupings & platforms converged for a international meet – so right down our alley. (The Hague’s own PerformanceSite (P.S.) and ...PAS (performance art studies) and International Performance Association (IPA).... 
Not so much has changed in Quartair itself, tidied up, reconfiguration of space to give more practical areas, but the general feel of the main space is the same and the cozy BBQ corner out front is still as popular as always... 
So we felt immediately in our element/home.. meeting some long lost friends and more recent acquaintances, chatting and updating our lives... but not to dwell on that here, where the activities at hand are described... Part of a weeklong series of workshops and performances, we could only view friday evening, missing the ‘holaa opeing’ since we were late... so, fragmentary as it is, here a short report:











Just in time to see Yvette Teeuwen in action, using but her (wrapped) body language and voice, running a series of possible emotions and situations, using mainly the viewer’s imagination to create the images, mostly recognizable situations without real cause or slightly astray from the usual, one recognizes and immediately doubts – thus setting us off footing and becoming participants in a sort of dance – or theatre moment – for one has the impression the sounds, breathing, gestures are from a classic background – but at the same time fresh and surprising enough to have the effect of a sudden encounter... good stuff – the use of a prop near the end, as sort of tiara worn/unworn to some effect on the facial expression was perhaps unnecessary, since the strength of the performer/body alone would have been enough to carry the whole...



Next was a piece by Sarah Atzori, musical chars as it were, children’s seats strung with string and plucked by a harpist and fed through a computerized bank of modulators and DJ material... perhaps better in a more closed/studio environment, since the visitors milling about were not quiet enough to really appreciate the sounds... or more ‘playful’ raunchy destructive as kids are (and it seems a lot of her other work) - while on the other hand I couldn’t help remembering various similar constructions, often more elaborate and intriguing, from the sixties, seventies, eighties... etc... so, on the whole a less impact, also because 17 years of alternative radio programming sort of jaded me to rediscoveries....














Heekyung Riu on the other hand did achieve a well proportioned presentation of what might be termed a classic – figure in bag / see-through plastic – also a blast from the past when plastic was a new material... and bag-pieces from Ono onwards... but she managed to give it all an own aesthetic slant, combining self-isolation, self-adulation (selfie & cream) as well as participation, holding corners, and exhaustion, standing sculpture upside down for ever so long... she managed to keep the public quiet and curious for the duration, so that is a good point to make. 







Duo presentation Leva Savickaité & Jürgen Fritz was an interesting proposition: separated ensemble as it were, on either side of a sheet, she proceeded to light candlesticks with her mouth, he inserted a tuning harp in his... she proceeded to lie down an pull the candlestick across her body which became naked, he breathed all the more heavy and rhythmic to the tunes of whatever emerged from the tuning harp, sometimes bluesy, sometime rock ‘n rolly or such, and coming to a crescendo climax type moment which could well have been a good end to this rather curious piece... but it went on with another demonstration of oral prowess by lighting a whole box of fireside matchsticks to then insert them into a trunk with a hole in... hmm... as said, could have been a separate piece, didn’t quite know what to do with it here... but the basic set up of a seperate duo-combination was good and worked well without the appendix.
























Larysa Bauge did a disturbing small but weighty piece. Quiet, standing still as innocent as can be, only noticing a curled up belt in her hand after a bit. After another bit it comes loose, unfurls as it were, begins dangling and the danger becomes slightly apparent... she moves forward unnoticed – the dangling becomes wavy, slightly menacing, foreboding, becoming frightening / frightened... not sure which... strains of a children’s musical box, making things more ominous... the belt stars swaying, higher and higher, whipping against the light fixtures, expecting to crack... snap snap, in the minds eye shut tight, no scream or wail but it’s there somewhere... home truths, traumatic memories, therapeutic exorcism, - we’re left to figure it out for ourselves as she puts down the little music box and leaves... strong and slight... it worked.



Ah, as finale of the evening something more fun & spectacular – TV based comedy moment under the parasol sipping chardonnay... Teddy May de Kock immersed herself into a certain personage from ‘the bold and the beautiful’ and reenacts various versions, dubbed and gaudy... good fun while at the same time a frightful mirror of our insatiable appetite for frivolous bullshit consolidating questionable role models... a preposterous form of social criticism having the effect of court jester, behind the laugh a niggling insight that pinches... on the surface slapstick pantomime, and who knows, maybe  society is no more than that...though slapstick ends up being broken bones and blood on the carpet mostly. But is it performance? The theatrical elements dominate, and so maybe it should be disqualified from the series? On the other hand any format is OK...

Depends on definitions – the guiding theme was a research into poetics of performance, and as such some did better than others, some specific work developed, some versions of set pieces perhaps... 


A continuous piece was developing all during the evening, which, sadly we did not take time to participate in, but which did engage curiosity... Joie de Wolf set up office just behind the entrance with a “Mythological Institute” section named ‘Department Self Exploration and World Arrangement’... and used questionnaires and a technique of instant revealing invisible drawings it seems, using UV light while-u-wait, or rather participate... (the old architectural plan print process I presume)
(seemed to me a bit like a persiflage of the BIWA, but probably no connection) - and a lot of these things take shape subconsciously, ‘in the air’ so to speak... danger is to wave things aside if they seem to similar to something already known... alas, we’re not in a position to say more about the project and will have to await results on the website concerned...

Obviously would have liked to see all the offerings over the weekend, but not possible – in any case this small visit did give an inkling of the quality and engagement displayed here – openness and willingness to try out things – giving one the feeling of being part of a creative process... good marks all around, the criticisms are but small annotations to what essentially was very good.











Hmmm dinner disaster - installation to be ate...
not sure who's responsible for this one, yummy
tho not many takers...
(the eyes have it)

zondag 18 juni 2017

Louve very heureuse






































Perchance was invited to a very agreeable recital in a private garden in Brussels, a bit like a forest clearing in the middle of the city, on a warm summer evening which could have been somewhere along the coast of Chile... 
An intimate and heartfelt offering of works by Violetta Parra, fifty years hence, gone from us at fifty years of age... by none other than her granddaughter Felisa Cereceda in duo with Ylva Berg as ‘La Louve Heureuse’ ... a rare treat. Accompanied by only the barest essentials, an Arauco drum and a string of shells, they gave strong and emotionally laden interpretations which harked back to the original, raw and engaged style that Violetta Parra herself might have appreciated... Over the years her songs have gone through various phases of popularization in various senses of the term... 

I had arrived in Chile some ten years after her death, in the dark times of the Pinochet regime, but her music was still omnipresent – something the Junta could not silence... and as such they became anthems to the struggle for freedom... Even though Violetta Parra’s songs were pre-Allende (lastly the Frei presidency) and about the disenfranchisement of  the poor & indigenous peoples rather than the disaster still to take place, it was partially the origin and represented the sentiment of change in Allende’s Unidad Popular, and adopted by the persecuted, with Victor Jarra’s martyrdom as catalyst - and exported to Europe...via groups like Inti-Illimani, especially Quilapayun, in which recently departed Angél Parra (son of Violetta) played a key role.
It is due to these groups that I first heard songs by Violetta Parra, versions my sisters had in their university record collection... and was a bit surprised to find they could be heard in Chile, since the aforementioned groups were prohibited, but Parra herself seen as heritage even if grudgingly, by the military regime... (there were enough records of the more revolutionary songs floating around in private circles though- so undermining any censorship anyway...) 
At the close of the seventies awareness sort of ebbed and attention focused more on Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador...) and discord in the aforementioned groups sort of had their toll also... resurgence (of ‘historico’ groups) in Chile itself with the restoration of democracy but also enshrining and in a way entombing the whole ‘folkloristic renewal’ while losing sight of the essentials...

Which is exactly what I felt one caught a glimpse of here in this small unpretentious garden-recital: back to the simple protestations and heartfelt concern for those less fortunate... the need for an emotional response rather than political machinations, the re-sourcing of self-worth in order to emphasize with others...  (...well,  with some socio-political aspects if you please,  especially the pre-colonial indigenous populations, befitting the recent trend of ‘decolonialization’ discourse...)
But the main appreciation is that of a personal warmth, the beautiful poetry, carried by well crafted voices, interchanging and mingling with the evening slowly descending on the small green oasis in the city...


Very much appreciated. Certainly to be looked out for (...venue mentioned on their blog....September 23, Antwerp?)

zaterdag 10 juni 2017

Broke Rocks

The sculpture projects at Münster  opens today, and reminds me of a note I had made earlier this year, at the passing of Gustav Metzger

Broke rocks

Gustav Metzger, one of those artists that gets / got under your skin...
The ones you absorb by osmosis rather than name crunching... My earliest memory is of the car with its exhaust connected to a plexi box on its roof, withering plants... I think a version of a project planned for Documenta 5, not sure, but as a youngster I thought " hey, neat..." and it sort of stuck... Only much later did I learn that Townsend’s guitar-bashing and copy-cats were also to be traced to his auto-destructive ideas, and were influential in my own auto-subversive series... Again, without realizing the origins, much like Filliou, and admittedly I did sort of mix them up for ever so long, perhaps because of the misfits-gig... But I did always hark back to the DIAS and must admit indebtedness for my auto-subversive series way back when...

Anyway, like many I had sort of lost sight of his work (short exception was Explosiv,) Köln ‘81) until I got involved in a re-launching of his 'art strike' (by stewart home) in the nineties... Whence I interconnected with Ruine in Geneva and Fri Art in Fribourg -   As well as various process-projects that could be linked to origins to do with Metzger’s work... But he was not on the radar much... (himself avoiding the art-zoo)  but that something that really jolted me back to consider Metzger as artist was stumbling across his broken rocks at the Münster Skulpturprojekte in 2007... Literally...

It was a chaotic an rainy opening... We had planned to meet up with friends and participating artists but were blown off course... Downpours sent people scattering for cover at regular intervals and as it was we were perfectly happy to just let the whole show impress on us rather that scurrying to and fro following a checklist of some sort... 
Anyway, as it happened it was during one of the downpours that we were hurrying along a path trying to share an umbrella when a pile of stones made our passage difficult... In fact nearly stumbled... Yes, Stolpersteine...
(were they already in the news at the time?)
Broken rocks, chain gang material... If it had not been for a small sign stating that this was in fact the work of Gustav Metzger I would not have known... Later even saw the guy with his forklift fetching some stones... But it was only afterwards I read about the work and its computer generated chance distribution of rocks here and there... Ah equivalence! So it had been since the strike that I had encountered his work again... As it turns out he had been quite active... In my mind he was still under the radar investigating... But no, he had resurfaced and was still as vibrant & critical as ever... Even though in some ways perhaps recuperated by the establishment... But aware of that fact and making use of it.. And later work still could count on my approval... The intervention at the Haus der Kunst (former national socialist temple), the hidden photographs in full view, history winks... The flight ban for art-hoppers, and last but not least his call the head off extinction, remember nature, which we also contributed to... But alas, now a memory... Ist nicht mehr... In memoriam... And hopefully to continue in his vein.


(only just recently learnt more of his Antwerp connection... There was an interesting talk by ..... At the local university... Already planned before his death, mainly in reference to his work shown at Documenta 13 which I missed... but already during the famous fifth Documenta (or was it the first Skulpturprojekte?) his proposal for a work with car exhaust was very visionary, even if difficult to realize – now still, we’re arguing about the way we mistreat our environment... )

our cat investigating Metzgers open call / via Point d'Ironie


zondag 5 maart 2017

quel chose



























It had been a while since there was again a more or less performative sculpture evening at Buktapaktop – literature with some perf, song with some perf, but this time the space was more of a scene itself, which was nice – set, the scene as it were by a girl crushed by the weight of scenery. For a moment Bukta became Aleppo and the victims crushed in their nightgowns, dusted by debris, still breathing... she remained there for an hour which was already disconcerting – how must it be for the real victims of the rubble-rousing disaster which has befallen Syria, no soap. 
Hap-hopping pep-talk on how to ameliorate your being – you well-being, you self-being and the relation to the world around you- hop to it, get involved, just short of physical (can’t get that tune out of my head now...) go for it, advised and coached by professional know-it-alls, grouped together in team spirited upstarts, groomed by corporate web-talk and supporting human resource junkies... Yes! Yes Yesss...











Collectif Chôse
An interesting alternating mix of integrated performance, lecture and visuals; following through chapters but intertwined, parallel divergent, re-referencing and simultaneous brief. An extende discourse on ambidexterity lined up with a collection of paving stones, again pep talk or video, again from before, or no, another one, for instance witnessing the failing light while in fact not being aware of it... nothing happening so to speak but all the while not knowing where to turn first – a reflection on our own capacity to observe...
Reconstructing what we saw into something translucent, which we might have drank from, cemented in a precarious attitude just short of identifiable.


Questionable, yes that’s it... and as such a refreshing take on the scientifically circumnavigated banality of everyday. Chôse certainly something to watch out for. Chôse certainly something to look forward towards. Of aft, as the case may be.
on this occasion Chôse is