sounds of museums
Turchin Project -
sounds of museums II
vanishing sounds of vanishing cultural
as the party drags on into the night
1. Aching Worlds - Does Big Art stand by, smirk or just look the other way when a true cultural hotbed is wiped off the map? First victim: Storyville (by order of federal government... then Katrina and W finished the job)
2. Baking Worlds - has anyone ever calculated the environmental impact of shuttling the whole art crowd from one mega-event to another so they can bid up, among other things, earnest works that urge ecological responsibility? Second victim: local cultural activity in Venice.
3. Breaking Worlds - a history of human culture could be written in terms of places, usually crossroads, "worlds", in a way, that have generated particularly fertile eruptions of art, knowledge and expression. Chance brought together different peoples, languages, customs and suddenly new sounds and images appeared. These hotbeds of culture have almost always been viewed with great suspicion and hate by other places and the powers that be. Museums and galleries are places that conserve the tragic remains of the demolition of those worlds. Third victim: Maxwell Street, Chicago, wiped off the map by a university campus (with friends like that...). For more on the death of Maxwell St. go here
The Crossroads track (right) is from Spirits Up Above
4. Caking Worlds - ok, so is "to cake" really a verb?
v.tr. To cover or fill with a thick layer, as of compacted matter: a miner whose face was caked with soot.
v.intr. To become formed into a compact or crusty mass: As temperatures dropped, the wet snow caked.
Art cakes onto any and all available surfaces, yet somehow manages to avoid becoming "democratic", maintaining its precarious character as the realm of some poorly defined elite. The rest of the world is subject matter, abundantly commiserated and exploited. Let them eat cake!
If you've been on stage for thirty years, though, making worlds really is a piece of cake. You've got worlds to spare in your freezer. Arto Lindsay may be too busy getting ready for the big show tomorrow to notice, but today was the official (I've been informed by very authoritative sources) 30th anniversary of the Lounge Lizards' first gig, at Hurrah's in New York. Queue up early tomorrow morning... No pain for cakes!
FOURTH VICTIM: music venues in Manhattan. If we started out today instead of 30 years ago it woulda been a lot harder to find places to practice in public like we did.
5. Faking Worlds. In the positive sense of the term. If art suggests a way of looking at worlds, then it must to some extent be separate from them, detached. Worlds already exist. It is not impossible to imagine artists making a world and then suggesting a way of looking it, but maybe we can't really use the term "making". Instead, it is faked. Some say the world is a collective creation, but it might be more accurate to say that the world creates us collectively, just as a language speaks us (Heidegger), rather than letting us speak it. The idea of making worlds may be fraught with all the dangers of out-and-out hubris.
In a less positive sense of the term, when the art world gets its mitts on a truly vital, spontaneous cultural world it generally destroys it. Fifth victim: graffiti ('70s) and street art (now).
6. Flaking Worlds - The weird verbs generate the best perspectives. Check out "to flake":
v.tr. To remove a flake or flakes from; chip.
To cover, mark, or overlay with or as if with flakes.
Two meanings, and both of them are happening to Venice. Each person that passes flakes off a few molecules, at least, of the original, and replaces them, overlays them, with a few new flakes, like dandruff. Has anyone calculated how many more years it will take for Venice to become a big pile of (wet) dandruff? I bet Roberto Cuoghi has thought about it, at least, and is probably preparing precise data. He's in the Giardini, in the Biennale proper, with his classic Chinese music piece Mei Gui. His first such experiments were with the sounds of Africa, way back in 2004.
While we're on the subject of flakes, check out Bobby Grossman's CornFlakes cycle here for a taste of Victim 6, or at least the next Vanishing Act: the Scene.
7. Forsaking Worlds - once again, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Making something and then not clinging to it or insisting too much on its continuing intrinsic value can be positive. The symbol is the balloon, collectively constructed and then released. Tomas Saraceno manages to pull off utopia in all kinds of settings, including one painstakingly constructed world (hey, that name sounds familiar) that has since been forsaken, brutally, by the city of Milan: Isola Art Center and the ferment that happened, in parallel, in that neighborhood. Destroyed World no. 7. For all the background go here.
8. Jaking Worlds - you decide. Slang dictionary def 4
My take is "legitimizing", which usually means sanitizing or making what is threatening safe for consumption. An inevitable fate, perhaps, but some people manage to escape it. The Fear Society seems jake in our book. Unjake world no. 8, on the other hand, is the LA punk scene... packaged for easy consumption. Try out this found object, the inspiring (but not scary) "have a beer with fear" by historic punk group Fear.
9. Making Worlds (finally,in alphabetical order). We're at the Iceland pavilion, and here's a guy, Ragnar Kjartansson, who actually makes worlds. The exception to the rule. He isn't satisfied with the possibilities of technology, installation, site-specific etc. So he goes there and does it himself. For the entire duration of the show, and even longer... six months, this time. At Rovereto (Manifesta) he inhabited a room with friends and sang (very nicely too)... the presence of an old gramophone seemed like a signal... "You see, sound reproduction technology hasn't actually advanced much beyond this thing... whatever speakers I use, it will still be so different from the experience of me actually being here and singing, while my friend is actually here, playing the piano."
We got up to this point at the end of the openings... the next phase is to return to venice, when its less crowded, and find the sounds that fit the words... including the rest of the rhyming dictionary (below)
Shaking worlds - economic reaction
Snaking worlds- below
Aching Worlds (listen)
Baking Worlds (listen)
Crossroads for Maxwell St.
Lizards' first gig - Caking
basketball throwdown / cold crush brothers vs. fantastic freaks
flaking worlds (listen)
Bert Theis explains Isola Art Center
Jaking it with Fear
ragnar at manifesta in rovereto