I censor my eyes
’cause you can already see
– when able to –
deep inside of me
A line on eyes
to imitate the best
the one that makes you
Colored if you are pale
pale, if you are colored
(I don’t use make-up anyways
because I always lay between
Everyone is shouting
“Me! Me! Look at me!
then back at me again:
am I not the coolest
you have ever met?”
My life scares me,
I borrow yours;
my mum fires me,
I find a new specialization: from trouble
There is something in the eyes
-trying to scratch: still blind-
leaves me hypnotised all time
grows the distance, grows
the time I look better
behind the line.
I don´t know-
I was caught in a dream!
A dream with red hair and blue eyes,
which left me shell-less, all the time.
A dream that
all the dreams come true!
Yet the rhythm, I don´t know, the rythm is
A song I composed for Alice,
to tell her “I love you,
I have no fear”.
Notwithstanding I am
I give you my spine
Oh, so divine
in the falling day
reminding the gates
I dare a gun
pointed at you
only to feel the fun
of beating the truth.
A stop-motion capture
for this lonely rapture
Breaking the law
of Mother, that haw
for all the cocaine
for all the pills
down the hills.
Please make a sound
the magnet inverted,
now am assertive.
Feeling feels somehow different now:
I don’t know if I can
– oh, sure do I; but
I mean if I really can –
translate the buzzes in my brain;
anyone gets an analyst nowadays
I am still waiting for mine to take
my dirty laundry, to wash it,
my dirty dishes, to lick it,
even though reluctant I fight
against my own unwillingness.
I cry for the dolphins
– is it egoism too?
I may be a folded pine
when the water’s so blue
caught in rifles of chloride:
like the last requested smile
on the pond,
drown and, finally
freed by submission
Don’t get lost
Submission is freeing me?
No, I don’t think so
I may be apologetic…
But no, I don’t think so –
I just look at the stars
– so far, so true –
they are alcohol and dope
I am far, if I can feel them too
so near, so bright,
yet dark as night
– that’s their meaning of existence:
to everything connected.
The title is an homage to Zanias, from the music track “Follow the body”, To the core EP, 2016. This record and her whole production are amazing, by the way.
As you may know, Vienna is a city that developed in the proximity of the Danube. A former arm of it, the Donaukanal (Danube Canal) delimits the city centre, and it is a cozy urban yet green place to hang out, especially during summer. Along its path there are free areas for making graffiti, public vegetables gardens, outdoor exhibitions, many small and bigger bars, and the most interesting clubs (for example Grelle Forelle, which I mentioned more than once previously). And many different music and art events take place here, free events where people can gather in a chill setting.
Couple of weeks ago it was Kunst am Kanal, Art on the Canal, organized by the club Das Werk in cooperation with its two art ateliers, Lichtbogen 334, the nest of the visual artists from the collective 4youreye projectionArt, and Dachsbau, a co-working space for artists to rent and exhibit their work. Das Werk means “the factory”, but also “the art work”, and that’s what this club promotes aside from music.
Contemporary art can be easily seen as snobbish, due to its hermetic messages and aesthetics, the high prices and the steered value, not necessarily based on pure talent (see my post about Roberta Sinatra and her study that analyses the trends in the art business). It’s the underground facet, instead, that can offer a glimpse of closeness to a wider audience and become part of a bigger context, integrating into the surrounding of music, drinks and good vibes. The final result is not individual anymore, rather a sum of different contributions, styles, perceptions, points of view; and the location, even if the same one, acquires each time a new unique appearance.
Moreover, these events can also give the possibility to minor and free-time artists, or simply creative talents, to express themselves: collaborations and projects can bloom, most likely not for decorating a fancy loft, rather for creating a collective experience.
The new huge graffiti of two hands exposing the teeth of a ferocious dog was mapped by the visualists collective 4youreye for projecting colourful visuals that gave a whole different feeling of it; at Werk a new exhibition space offered a solo from Noémi Kiss, an architect and philosopher (and woman that I deeply admire) who rose in the last six years as conceptual artist, using simple and poor materials (concrete, carpets as example) to give them new shape and purpose. In this occasion she presented five different reinterpretations of three-dimensionality recreated on beautiful antique Persian carpets hung on the walls, creating a door –or a window– for the viewer to look into.
And then much more is offered, involving all different forms of performative arts, and the music: live concerts during the daylight, dj sets at night, offering a wide range of styles and sound.
A special paragraph deserves Lichtbogen 334, with its dark ambience particularly fitting to the projections introduced: a “digital mirror” altering colours and movement, that I already mentioned in the post about the Playground Festival; a panel with two plaster cast faces emerging out of it, one happy one sad, lightened by changing shapes and patterns; two lysergic skulls decorating the shutters that divide the exposition space from the storage for the 4youreye equipment.
The Kunst am Kanal festival takes place once a year, but still there are many other events where lights, colours and moods mix together to create the special atmosphere that characterises this part of the Kanal. All this arty melting pot just opposite to the District Heating Plant designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a famous Austrian artist I will definitely talk about, and just adjacent to a complex of buildings ideated by Zaha Hadid, uncompleted due to financial cuts and changes that – rumors say – made the architect not satisfied anymore with the project to the point that she wanted her name dissociated from it. Still, these buildings are masterpieces here for us to admire and, thanks to these occasions, to rediscover in a different light.
She started with funk and jazz, then became one of the most prominent names in the techno scene. I met Susanne Kirchmayr, better known as Electric Indigo, after a little note I gave her last month during her great set at Grelle Forelle in her hometown, Vienna.
Eclectic artist, DJ, feminist, producer (in no particular order), with her passion and determination she has opened the doors not only to herself in the new born scene that, guess what, was men-mostly, but also to all the different gender expressions otherwise very little re-present-ed. In 1998 she started a revolutionary network for female, transgender and non-binary artists in electronic music and digital arts. I start the interview with her exactly from this point.
female: pressure. How can an artist join the network? How has gender diversity changed in electronic music?
female:pressure is based on personal connections: there is no profile, no online subscription, rather you can join us by sending an email to email@example.com and then filling in a form about your music style and sector, which can vary from DJ and producer to academic researcher (concerning music studies, but also social sciences for diversity and feminism). Currently female:pressure connects about 2400 artists from 75 countries. It is not an agency, as many erroneously think, rather a powerful tool that can be used in different ways, depending on the interests: many use it for having access to the mailing list, an old-fashioned but efficient platform to share ideas, discussing, stay in touch; others simply use it for discovering new artists. I am the main manager together with other two assistants, at the moment only one, Death of Codes aka Meg Wilhoite (An: from California, to understand also the international management that is behind the project). Consumer Refund aka Sarah Martinus is the third one, temporary inactive. From the beginning of electronic music there have definitely been changes in female and non-binary artists representation, in the techno scene as everywhere. The Internet has become the tool to reach a larger audience and to spread your message, your music. This can be related as well to the music production: once it was much more expensive to get the proper equipment for playing, nowadays it is much more affordable. So on one side we have this big right-wing wave spreading again all over Europe; but on the other side people are much more aware and particularly care for themes like diversity and gender equality and freedom to live intersexuality. Which is, of course, reflected in the electronic scene too.
What are your biggest influences, in- and outside of techno, in your style and which artists do you like?
I’ve started playing funk, jazz and hip hop in a small club in my city, Vienna, soon realizing that, apart from the old records, I didn’t like the new hip hop releases so much anymore. I was into 70’s stuff and kept playing records from this time, as they were a guarantee. But contemporary music was missing. Then house and techno came, and it was an epiphany! These two styles may sound unrelated, but hip hop and techno do have many parallels, maybe not so easy to catch. I enjoyed immediately the new sound. Apart from this, funk has been always present in my style because it’s a genre that surprise you, unpredictable and fun! I am also a huge Beatles fan, in particular of the less common stuff: Number 9, for example, has been a big inspiration for me. I love trippy music, with long loops, monotonous sounds, because they can bring you on a different level, it’s almost like meditation.
You played last year for the celebration of 30 years of techno at the Funkhaus in Berlin a set that is in my opinion sensational (post-note: I had to say so, I just fell so much in love with it). Your career as a producer started exactly in Berlin, how has the time you spent there influenced your career?
I lived in Berlin from 1993 to 1996, starting to work at Hard Wax, the famous music store where the best names were passing by. This has been the shaping and most important time of my career. What I liked the most was the attitude of these people: while others were trying to make techno a mainstream genre and becoming superstars (Mayday, Love Parade, Sven Väth), the people from Hard Wax were part of the opposite tendency of staying behind the scenes, a big influence coming as well from the Detroit techno (see Underground Resistance, for example). Berghain, as another example, is similar in this attitude to Hard Wax, creating a mystery and exclusivity around itself. I feel in between these extremes, but I was fascinated by this perspective. In the early 90’s, I was friends with DJ Hell who used to work at Hard Wax and introduced me there. The boss, Mark Ernestus, remembered him as somehow chaotic and suspected the same from me. Actually, I’m quite the opposite of chaos and I was very determined to get a job there. Finally I got the chance to replace someone for a short time. Which was enough to show my reliability and become not only an employer, but also the responsible for purchasing from European labels. It was a great time that allowed me to make great connections and create new ideas.
What are your current and future projects?
At the moment I am working at a new audio visual project called “Ferrum”, first time performed this January at “Art’s birthday” at Funkhaus in Vienna. Ferrum is the Latin word for iron, and refers to the types of sound I am using for the piece, like the sound of metal objects that I recorded. I am developing a generative, reactive visual part of the piece, too, building from what I learned from making the videos for my last album. I followed a colour-and-light concept, playing with them. I’ve started to learn on my own, and when I was trying to blend gradients, this “mistake” resulted in a animation which comes from compression artefacts! For Ferrum I want to further develop this approach and make it in real time, not just triggering prefabricated videos like I do in my album show 5 1 1 5 9 3. I like very much audiovisual performances, and for Ferrum I need room for improvisation, but video and music should still go together in specific time frames.
As you already know, my blog is dedicated to contemporary art, whether it be literature, visual or performing arts. Besides music, which forms do you like and follow most?
Since my early 20’s, I’ve been always surrounded by art. At first, I wanted to study industrial design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, but I wasn’t selected. Still, most of my friends at that time were art students. In any case, I keep being surrounded by artists and people who have a great affinity with fine arts. My booking agent, Mo Loschelder, for example, studied under Gerhard Richter (An: one of the most important contemporary German artists). During my time as resident DJ at Flex – from 2000 to 2008 – a lot of art students and artists came for “my” nights. I also had the occasion to give talks and workshops in academies, both of music but also of fine arts. I feel particularly connected to architecture, design, fashion, computer art, graphic design.
What do you think about the techno scene in Vienna? What do you find most interesting in it?
Sadly, there is limited space for music experimentation, it is hard to find suitable places mainly because of the loudness. The scene is varied and split up. It seems limited because of this, but there are many small realities that makes it eclectic. When it comes to electronic music, my favourites in Vienna are the MEAT Market / Fish Market parties and the associated label MEAT Recordings, the Editions Mego label and the Hyperreality Festival.
Last week I got to know Gerald Wenschitz aka Gerald VDH, the founder and mastermind of MEAT Market, who deserves (and will soon have) a chapter aside. And it’s with the motto of his parties that I want to conclude:
No homophobia, no sexism, no racism, no discussion!
They are one of my first experiences with experimental music, the roughest, craziest, out-of-any-possible-box one. Their sound is dramatic, visceral, distorted, disturbing, sometimes an enchanted melody, sometimes a hammering noise. Xiu Xiu are the ever changing band of singer and songwriter Jamie Stewart, and represent, in my opinion, one of the finest expressions of aesthetics in music.
It takes an effort to me to go back in the days, where I was a virgin disc to fill with the most interesting music. Music was coming from friends, from friends of friends, from magazines, even the library had (and I think it still has) a nice catalogue that gave me the roots, my background, after long hours passed just listening to music. Xiu Xiu were at the moment, for me and my circle, the ultimate sound. It was their beginning too. I was already in love with Nine Inch Nails, Sigur Rós, Björk, Radiohead, and couldn’t help connecting with their music. It was in 2006 at the Teatro Miela, an experimental theatre in Trieste, that I finally met them.
The funniest thing is that I’ve been knowing them since their debut, and still I was literally spelling Xiu Xiu (for me, Italian native). When you just need to go on their (Italian) page on Wikipedia to read that the pronunciation is “Shoo-shoo”, written in an Anglophone way…
When I got to know they were coming to Vienna I decided to update myself, damn they are still active and great and I’ve forgotten about their music…(Please don’t get me wrong, they are definitely unforgettable but I also listen to a lot of music). I think Xiu Xiu are one of the rare examples that can leave you puzzled about their music and at the same time about your critical abilities.
Before the concert there is already an intimate atmosphere, that peculiar connection that you feel among strangers when going to a special show that few know. I get interesting feedback from the people around: some are seeing them for the first time and very excited about, some are big fans, describing every concert as a new experience, from extreme experimentalism to regular and plain execution. And it is undisputable that they are true performers: when they finally start under a blue light the audience is immediately captured. I am lucky, I get a full-on piercing and distorted live, where my euphoria is equally mixed with the intensity of the performance.
The songs are sweet and delicate, then getting harsh and sharp. Some people need to plug their ears, ’cause it’s too loud, or simply too much (but also for the small club Chelsea, thank you for having brought them to us!); meanwhile they play their hearts out, they dance like trapped in a state of trance (mainly Jamie, actually), they exchange, interchange the instruments, they read a poem: I am completely lost in the music. Sometimes I cannot even understand the lyrics; but the soft and tender, the shouted and violent, the simply passionate voice of Jamie Stewart brings me to a whole different level of communication. That’s the power of music, yes, but THAT is the power of Xiu Xiu.
I am following a real one on Instagram (sentence I thought I would have never used, grumpy and sceptic as I am with these new “social” means, making you even less social than before).
I see on the same f@#g Instagram she is going to Zurich too. She is from New York.
I contact her immediately, maybe I have an occasion to meet your art..?
She replies yes! In few weeks. I am there for few days.
Then she says “well, we can hang out together then”.
We meet and greet. She is calm, sweet, with such a delicate voice. I love voices. I love delicate voices.
I would love my mind to be a recorder, like a proper one, able to keep every single word. I am just a human.
We have lunch together, we walk around during an unexpected sunny day.
I wasn’t expecting anything, but I am definitely impressed. Not by her words, or her aspect, or her shyness: rather by what she radiates. She IS poetry.
I talk more than her; it wasn’t my idea, actually the opposite; still I want to give her something too.
I met Precious Okoyomon, and this is our story.
Precious is a young and talented artist. Grown up between London and Lagos, she is currently living in New York. By connecting her daily writings – messages to friends, notes taken on the phone while walking in the streets – she has shaped her own style, still taking inspirations from the authors and artists who touch her soul. She is now introduced to Europe by the art guru Hans Ulrich Obrist, who fell immediately in love with her art. Currently she has her first solo exhibition in Zurich where she present her sculptures made with mixed materials and natural live elements –trees, mushrooms, plants that are constantly growing and blooming. Her three-dimensional poetry.
“My sculptures are a continuum with my poetry, it’s just a different form”.
The exhibition, A drop of Sun under the Earth, is open until the 20th of April at the Schwarzescafè at Luma Westbau, the headquarter of a non-profit local foundation that supports emergent artists. If you have the chance, don’t miss it!
In these hard times of my life in which I have to start dealing with social networks and all the media I have for long time avoided, I get a (great) slap in my face out of this art performance that, again, something don’t-know-what told me to attend. We are back in Vienna, in WUK, acronym for Werkstätten- und Kulturhaus, the House of Workshops and Culture, a beautiful formerly industrial building offering space for concerts, exhibitions, education, rehearsals, intercultural connections. The event I am joining is “All eyes on” from Teresa Vittucci, organised by WUK performing arts, the space dedicated to everything that is in between –or involving all together– dance, theatre and performance. “All eyes on” is about the double nature of the human being, who can be either exhibitionist or voyeur. This duality, together with the definition of private and public, gets emphasised online, where now we do most of the actions we were normally carrying out in the real world: buying clothes, getting new friends, finding a job – and sex. Sex can be easily found on many different platforms, where anyone can watch and make a choice. And Teresa chooses one of this channels to bring her performance to a third level of perception of what is public and what is private: the stage.
The audience starts to enter when she is already there, kneeling in the centre of a fully lighted mirrored platform, wearing a very red pullover on a very transparent bodysuit. She may not look like the typical girl someone would search online just for sexy fun; but the online chat she is connected with seems to appreciate. On the right of the stage, a screen shows what the chat users see through the webcam Teresa is connected to, while on the left a second screen shows the messages she receives.
She is acting like a sort of doll, somewhere in between a state of trance…and dumbness. I really don’t know what to expect. Then, she starts to sing. “Never thought I’ve found someone like youuu”. Neither did I. The song keeps going on, some people laugh. I genuinely wonder why. Then another song, this time something more amusing, although in the meanwhile she has opened the bodysuit from the bottom and started to show her hairy vagina. And many other situations follow: she is interacting with the audience, even sharing a lasagna with us; she is playing with the chat users, talking to them, asking them how do they like her, what do they like about her. The guys are nice. They enjoy the atypical and almost violent performance in its artistic sexiness, they even ask about the audience. They don’t seem astonished by what they see; rather curious and impressed. In this double role of performer for the chat and the live audience, Teresa becomes the exhibitionist, having us in the role of voyeurs.
…And everything starts to change, in my stomach, in my brain. The undefined sensation I felt before gets a shape, becomes now a clear vision: and this is not strictly coming out of the performance in this features; rather what I get now so strong and powerful out of it. And I think about these lonely people, who are apparently looking more for company or entertainment than sex; about the human fragility hidden behind a screen; about her strength in being so exposed; about the slight embarrassement in the audience mixed with laughters and –maybe- considerations. This hits me like…little tears in my eyes.
“There is something special happening here, now, between us. We all know it, we all feel it. Although we cannot describe it. And if we could, the explanation would probably ruin it”.
Head image: extract from the performance, pic from WUK
P.s. (which is actually a preface): I should explain that before any performance or art event I don’t like to read carefully what it will be about; and the reason is that I don’t want to be influenced nor to have already a view or opinion. But then, after it, I put together the pieces of what I caught and what was the real intention of the author.