Number 10: Legend | Spring 2011
Legend Contents Architecture Literature 100 Label Words by Phil Sawdon 104 Kerouac’s Gray America Words by Derek Horton
054 Legend: Le Corbusier Words by Gordon O’Connor-Read Photographs by Ken Mcckown 058 The Balancing Barn Words by Rose Cooper-Thorne
108 MAKING-TOWARD-ART’S-(LEGENDARY)-BODY Words by Michael Phillipson
062 A Walk in The Clouds: The Making of a Legend in Herzog & De Meuron’s Actelion Business Centre Words by João Paulo Nunes
016 κυπάρισσος Photographer Panayotis Mina Fashion Editor Christos Kyriakides
078 Hank Wangford Interview by Hannah Yelin
040 Agnosco Veteris Vestigia Flammae Photographer Harris Kyprianou Fashion Editor Andreas Koumas
084 Gaggle Interview by Hannah Yelin
028 John Latham Interview with John Hill by Helen Kaplinsky
066 In a Different Light Images by Zoe Childerley
034 Cheggers, Obbers, Roggors and the Seductive Allure of Academia on the Hoof Words by Annie Davey
088 The King of the Blinds Images by Marco Ambrosi
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IT IS ETERNITY FOR THE PRESENT AND PATIENCE FOR THE EPHEMERAL
photo by sonja m端ller
IT IS DETAILS FOR THE MINIMALIST AND NOSTALGIA FOR THE STOIC
Editor in Chief Jack Boulton firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors This Issue
Editors - Literature Phil Sawdon and Marsha Meskimmon email@example.com
Editor - Fashion Christos Kyriakides firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Fashion Editor Matthew Holroyd Editor - Art Christopher Thomas email@example.com Editor - Architecture Rose Cooper-Thorne firstname.lastname@example.org Editor - Music Hannah Yelin email@example.com
Cover image by Eley Kishimoto
Michael Phillipson Derek Horton Phil Sawdon Fashion Panayotis Mina Ilona Garamvolgyi Christos Kyriakides Angelos Pattas Harris Kyprianou Andreas Koumas Marios Neophytou Tania Larina Vins Steinburg Elena Vafea Ashley Nash Architecture João Paulo Nunes Gordon O’Connor-Read Ken Mcckown Rose Cooper-Thorne Art
For advertising opportunities, please contact the editor-in-chief at the address above. We welcome unsolicited material from our readers. If you would like to make a contribution to future issues then please email the editorial team at the addresses above. Stimulus Respond is published by Jack Boulton. All material is copyright (c) 2011 the respective contributors. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior consent. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the contributors and are not neccessarily shared by the magazine. The magazine accepts no liability for loss or damage of manuscripts, artwork, photographic prints and transparencies. ISSN 1746-8086
John Hill Helen Kaplinsky Annie Davey John Latham Music Hank Wangford Gaggle Hannah Yelin Photography Zoe Childerley Marco Ambrosi
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leg路end Pronunciation: \lej-uhnd\ Function: noun 1. A nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical. 2. The body of stories of this kind, especially as they relate to a particular people, group, or clan: the winning of the West in American legend. 3. An inscription, especially on a coat of arms, on a monument, under a picture, or the like. 4. A table on a map, chart, or the like, listing and explaining the symbols used. 5. Numismatics . inscription. 6. A collection of stories about an admirable person. 7. A person who is the center of such stories: She became a legend in her own lifetime. 8. Archaic. A story of the life of a saint, especially one stressing the miraculous or unrecorded deeds of the saint. 9. Obsolete. A collection of such stories or stories like them.
Image by Zoe Childerley
photographer Panayotis Mina fashion editor Christos Kyriakides make up Ilona Garamvolgyi hair Angelos Pattas@Blow Cy
previous spread: skin see-through body suit Fogal jacket part of Cypriot traditional costume opposite: jacket Celine dress part of Cypriot traditional costume
opposite: long Jacket part of Cypriot traditional costume next spread left: jacket Balenciaga jewellery Mawi trousers part of Cypriot traditional costume next spread right: jacket Balenciaga, long jacket part of Cypriot traditional costume trousers part of Cypriot traditional costume boots Balenciaga
opposite: leather Jacket Rick Owens above: jacket Haider Ackermann
above: Jacket Celine Dress part of Cypriot traditional costume opposite: Scarf jacket and trousers all part of Cypriot traditional costume
John Latham Interview with John Hill by Helen Kaplinsky
Above: Spellcheck Stamp Patrick Coyle 2010 in the Hand of Flat Time House as part of Reading for Readingâ€™s Sake UNFIXED exhibition.
The artist or ‘incidental person’ John Latham (1921- 2006) cut an awkward figure in the landscape of British twentieth century art. Latham is most well known for his sculptural collages and performances in which he piled, burned and painted books. He leaves behind an extensive collection of writings on the intersection of art and science, and his view of the artist’s position in wider society. Most articles about him begin with the problem of how to categorize and historicize his work that has been variously linked to assemblage, auto-destruction, minimalism and happenings, as well as being held responsible for establishing a space for socially engaged practices. Latham appears acutely concerned with his own legacy, having written and diagrammed reams of theory in a self consciously pseudoscientific style, ostensibly in support of his practice. Did the artist really leave these texts behind with the intention of securing a place for his art objects in art history? This almost desperate pleading with us to look at his work with as much commitment as he did is far too idiosyncratic to ignore. What is of worthy of my attention today is not the assemblage, performance or film work which is considered his art work proper but Latham’s framing of them. By dragging these frames into the limelight, rather than letting them illuminate his so called real artworks, one can begin to appreciate the cannibalistic version of auto-destruction which he accomplished. His theories are against theory, his art objects are against objects, and his studio/living quarters were not the site of creation, but destruction. For the last 20 years of his life Latham occupied Flat Time House, Peckham. The artist converted the first two stories of a Victorian terrace house from a shop unit into the all-inclusive artist’s residence, complete with gallery, studio, and living quarters. Since his death Flat Time House has easily adapted into an archive for Latham’s practice and a venue for contemporary activity. In December 2010 Maurice Carlin and I programmed a series of events as part of Reading for Reading’s Sake including an exhibition, screening, reading group and performances. Discussions were amidst the weighty and controversial theories of Latham that play themselves out in the architecture of the space. As both a vessel for art work and an artwork in itself, Flat Time House was conceived as a “living sculpture”. In regard to legacy, the building appears as a very physical asset, enabling Latham to extend his influence across his time-base schema. The architecture of the building is based upon an anthropomorphic delineation. The Face is the window frontage and has a large book sculpture permeating the facade, half outside and half inside the front room. This front space is known as the Mind; showcasing a permanent display of works demonstrating Latham’s Time-Base Theory including TimeBase Roller with Graphic Score (1987). The artist would use this room to introduce visitors to his theories and the display has been preserved as Latham had it, only now John Hill employee at Flat Time House stands in the shoes of the artist. Latham referred to his office space as the Brain. The computational and administrative necessities undertaken there were considered part of “rational thought” and categorically distinct from the intuitive contemplation of art, which occurs in the Mind. Today The Brain houses The John Latham Archive. and appears as a pile of open boxes, recently excavated by Antony Hudek for the exhibition Anarachive at Whitechapel Gallery. The Hand, a sky-lit extension at the back of the building was Latham’s studio and is the primary location for a wide-ranging programme of exhibitions and events from Latham’s peers to emerging artists. The Body Event; including kitchen and living space is the hearth of the house, occupying the centre of the ground and the first floor. Artists in residence take turns in activating Latham’s artwork by Incidental person is Latham’s conception of the artist as part of Flat Time Theory. http://www.flattimeho.org.uk/project/16/ http://www.flattimeho.org.uk/project/16/
living in the Body Event. The building is named after the artist’s life work Flat Time Theory, a premise for the union of science and art and a reassessment of the dominant understanding of the “dimensional framework of the event”. As opposed to dividing time and object-hood, Flat Time proposes one united dimensional frame, namely; the event. Latham’s metaphysical belief is of a series of events on a flat extended time plane. The world as we know it will always produce increasingly hierarchical situations as a result of the divided schema of categories and languages, objects and events. Latham argued against dividedness and most prominently the division between the cerebral and corporeal. He referred to the limiting dominance of dualism (separation of mind and matter) in western civilization. The Enlightenment which is the basis for our attitude to science today prioritized the rational and dualistic. The gallery at Flat Time House is designed for intuitive perception which takes a holistic view of production; encompassing the mind as connected to a body. This is where Flat Time as an architectural scheme communicates metaphysical arguments as living, material spaces. The Brain does necessary calculations, but there is a door into the Mind which sees information get swept into a capricious space of purposelessness, namely art work. Whilst his art work exists within the frame of historicized art movements such as collage, auto-destruction and the ‘social turn’ in art, it takes issue with conventional linear conceptions of time and announces artworks as events. Through his wellchronicled intention Latham attempted to challenge the production of historical knowledge as an aesthetic concern. Whilst any form of knowledge unsatisfactorily fixed in the eyes of Latham, specifically art history is an attempt to rationalize a constantly shifting set of events. The project is reflective of Robert Morris’ 1960’s tenet that “art is primarily a situation”, however in addition to this Latham is proposing the gallery, the home and the studio of the artist as an artwork- the whole context in which artworks are produced is made visible as a structure. Latham was clearly interested in organizing structures, more over given frameworks which unnecessarily divide society. Indeed, it is not the writing contained in particular books from which so much of his work it made which was of concern to Latham, moreover the means of knowledge dissemination which the book is a symbol of. The fixity of the printed word amounts to the rational ‘cultural base’ of the west and Latham believed that that cultural base was ‘burned out’. The House is a space of production which goes beyond the logic of efficiency and output, seeing the artist as producer turn against the object and systematically destroy. Flat Time House benefits Latham by accommodating contemporary activity to leverage interest in his practice. As an under recognized figure his work seems to be rising in interest with the availability of opportunities for the multiple interpretations which Curator Elisa Kay has enabled and were not possible during Latham’s lifetime due to his staunch position. John Hill, employee at Flat Time House refers to his position as with the Mental Furniture Department. This somewhat facetious answer to the question of what his job is, seems the only way to deal with the implicit problem of having an education department that teaches a critique of received knowledge. As part of the Reading for Reading’s Sake program at Flat Time House John provided a tour, An A to U of Flat Time Theory as well as hosting a close reading of Latham’s theoretical writings. Although I can’t claim to be a Flat Time Theory expert, if you ever get a chance to visit Flat Time House or pick up one of Dimension- Framework of “event” identified via art, in Art After Physics, Stuttgart, London: Edition Hansjorn Mayer. Dimension- Framework of “event” identified via art, in Art After Physics, Stuttgart, London: Edition Hansjorn Mayer. Latham in Walker, John A, The Incidental Person –His art and Ideas. London: Middlesex University Press, 1995, pp.80.
Right: John Hill giving tour ‘An A to U of Flat Time Theory’ in the Mind of Flat Time House as part of Reading for Reading’s Sake UNFI
“The building is named after the artist’s life work Flat Time Theory, a premise for the union of science and art and a reassessment of the dominant understanding of the “dimensional framework of the event””
Latham’s pieces of writing you will get an immediate sense that this was an artist who is positively bubbling with contradictions. Despite all the conversations John and I had throughout Reading for Reading’s Sake I never felt satisfied I had got the answer I was looking for. I’ve been granted the opportunity to pin him down on what Latham’s legacy could possibly add up to, so here we are again, caught up in questions and words. Helen Kaplinsky: I suppose the obvious question in relation to legend is that as Latham only recently passed away and was so much a protector of his own legacy whilst alive, I wonder how Flat Time House as a space/ project is outliving him? The building is a very physical legacy, in which that front room, the mind is unchanged from Latham’s didactic layout. Flat Time House as a living artwork could be seen as the ultimate legacy - Latham was of course against the kind of mausoleum of ideas that an archive or museum produces so Flat Time House/the house does well to avoid this paradigm by shifting constantly. John Hill: In terms of Legend, perhaps we could discuss the narrative of ‘the artist’ that Latham constructed for himself, with the house in some ways the greatest expression of that. There are many contradictions, not least Latham’s rejection of the term artist. Helen Kaplinsky: I interpret Latham’s rejection of the concept of the ‘artist’ to be part of a wider rejection of the autonomy of any one ideology. JH: I’m not sure about the ‘autonomy’ of ideologies. I think he certainly saw ‘the artists’ as a term within traditional ideologies and structures, the space-based and language based structure. An incidental person was one who could sit outside these ideologies. HK: His theory of Flat Time asserts that everyone and everything sits on an equal ‘flat’ plane, and artists are “incidental” to the operation of producing events in time? JH: I think that’s correct. In Flat Time Theory, events are already structured by the Flat Time score. The incidental person’s role is to activate those structures, to show things as they really are. Artworks can do this because they’re A-temporal, they can exist without clock time (though they obviously they have a duration).
HK: Accordingly his view of art history is one in which he plots art works as events in the time base. If I understand correctly Latham aimed for Flat Time House to exist as a set of events in time, rather than objects in space. I see this as a useful way of looking at the life of art works and the House it’s self. The works are activated and deactivated as events according to contingent events and incidental people. JH: A house is an event, one with a long duration (timebase) compared to, say, a person. The works are events too but they’re not reliant on a viewer, it’s more that the viewer activates the time, can see all the time that’s contained within the work and understand the relationship of the present moment to the whole event. HK: This means that sometimes art works will be dormant, or unfashionable, until someone with a particular interest gives their energy to create an event around the works. JH: That’s true, but I think Latham would think of it as the works being active over a long period of time, rather than sometimes active and sometimes not. HK: For this reason ‘legend’ (as historicism) could be seen as a false framework of rationalisation which is object rather than event based, as it claims a constant position on the time-base. JH: Flat Time is all about the relationship of the present to the past and the future. History itself is an event, and some histories outlast others. As far as I can tell, Flat TIme House was, for Latham, an attempt to make sure his works and ideas had a longer time-base, lasted longer, than his own lifetime, with the idea longer events can have more influence and interact with other long events, like history or like society. Legend is a fairly similar concept, though with flat time the emphasis is on how the
future is structured, rather than how the past is seen. HK: But Latham seems to refer to the past constantly. I would even go as far as to say that the chief concern of his practice appears to me as the construction of history. He marks Rauschenberg’s White Painting of 1951 as the optimum point of at which event-time is compressed and science and art meet at the least event. This might explain why his assemblage work is apocalyptic, the optimum moment has passed. The future can only bring more dividedness so is Flat Time House a utopian pocket within a landscape of ‘burned out’ civilisation? JH: Latham’s ‘art trajectory’ positions Rauschenberg’s unmarked canvas at the moment that ‘all art equals zero action’. He saw this as a point of inflection, a chance to realise the dead-end of the divided, object/space based idea of art. Science and art can meet, and come out the other side having changed each other, swapped ideas and methods. HK: In a film on the Tate website Latham takes a camera on a tour of the self contained live/work unit split over two floors. It enables a satisfying insight into the artists operation within his own artwork. He lived his work, and this was historicized by Walker as comparable to Josephy Beuy’s holistic approach to the world in which man should operate in harmony. Beuys embodied his theory and artwork, I assume you would not buy into this model or artist on Lathams behalf. Whether it was his intention or not it is surely part of his generation’s trajectory. Latham’s work today can be seen as significant on the terms of blurring ‘Art and Life’ as Kaprow said. JH: The house certainly embodies many of Flat Time Theories ‘John Latham: Extracts form an extended conversation in Flat Time HO’ concept and interview by Marianne Brouwer, filmed and edited by Laure Prouvost. Lisson Gallery, 2005
concepts, but I don’t think it should be seen as simply an extension of Latham as an artist. I think the point of the house, as with the theory and Latham’s art practice, is that it is larger, or longer, than Latham himself. Latham was constantly working to involve others in his practise and his ideas, whether through his involvement with the Artist Placement Group, the way he used assistants his attempts at collaborations with scientists or his constant conversations on Flat Time, of the kind that can be seen in the film. This is perhaps the greatest failure of Latham’s work, the inability to remove himself from it. In science theories exist independently of their authors, even in philosophy ideas have their autonomy, but in market based art world the creator remains. Latham never managed to become merely incidental to his work. HK: As we have discussed the rhetoric of his writings are in extreme contradiction to the implications of his artwork and writings. We disagree about whether his writings are artworks or not but perhaps I would approach this issue by considering the big idea that all this contradiction amounts to; ‘an ideology against ideologies’ and the artworks relation to historicization. For me, his artworks seem to mark a very particular point in history, this anti-enlightenment moment. JH: I’m not sure I would agree about anti-enlightenment. Latham had a real passion for progress, for technology and for science as a positive force for humanity. He simply felt that progress was being limited by divided thinking and by traditional methodologies, just as art’s progress was being restricted by Greenberg’s formal minimalism. He was certainly anti-rational, or at least knew the limits of rational thinking, but progress is maybe the most important theme in his career. The problem I have with categorising the writing as artworks is it seems to automatically dismiss Flat Time Theory as being not real, simply a literary or artistic construction, a fiction on which you can exercise language as an artistic medium. I’m not trying to put Latham’s writing in a completely different category from his other works, but understanding the primacy of the theory is vital. The poetics and the material language are ways of expressing ideas that cannot be understood rationally or expressed in rational language. The texts are functional, and casting them as art works gives them an autonomy that I don’t think they have. HK: I always perceived Latham’s work to declare a theory against theories, and in this assertion defines the self referential and contradictory nature of totalitarian belief. I understood him to be anti-enlightenment, however, you seem to suggest, he was in fact very committed to ideas. One supposes that Latham scholar John Walker would agree as he describes Latham as the ‘last avant-gardist’ in British art. The ideological, intellectual and one might say idealistic position of the avantgardist appears in retrospect to be very symbol represented charred and ruined landscapes of books. In a performance entitled Government of the First and Thirteenth Chair in which Latham elucidates his ‘time-base theory’ a character declares “ideas are dangerous… nothing will come of it”. There seems to be this ongoing binary between destruction and dystopia on the one hand and theories for a unitary future on the other. One is led to deduce that these theories, which are communicated in an notoriously awkward turn of phrase amount to a parody of science’s imagined utopia. Again, Latham seems to prefigure so many later artists, this time by appropriating an institutional language to critique that same institution. Is this all unintended, and if so maybe Latham would Originally performed in 1978 at Riverside Studios, London. Second performance took place at Oxford Union in 1991 on the occasion of the exhibition Art after Physics, Museum of Modern Art Oxford, 1991-1992
have appreciated this, he did like re-writing history after all! JH: The problem of how seriously to take Latham’s theory, how seriously he took it himself, is a big one, and not really one I’m able to answer. Latham obviously knew he wasn’t communicating his ideas effectively, especially in performance works such as The Attorney Project or his 1990 performance/ lecture at Riverside Studios. What these theatrical, at time farcical, attempts to communicate the theory do is expose the limits of language and of rational thinking. Understanding comes with the realisation an attempt to understand it outside of it’s own terms is pointless, perhaps even that an attempt to take it too seriously is pointless. Latham’s destructions are always destructions of the fixed and the ossified; they free objects and bring them live. The work is almost always optimistic, in fact Latham is criticised for being too optimistic, for not being critical enough of the existing situation while suggesting his alternative. HK: Latham scholar John A Walker suggests that a single meaning cannot and should not be regarded from Latham’s works. They are “designed to generate associations” and the artist himself compared them to a Rorschach’s inkblot, in which the reader’s perceptions are indicative of their own psychological state, rather than an objective truth in the reading material. Despite this seeming open door to interpretation Latham is disconcertingly uncomfortable with commentary around his work. After Latham’s death Walker released a swath of legal negotiations between the author and artist during the publishing of the 1995 ‘Incidental Person’ monograph in which Latham threatened after extensive interviews to disown the book. The artist wrote extensively about his own theories and Flat Time House was and is a place for audiences to be introduced to his art and the event-structure concept which drove the works. Again there seems to be a massive contradiction here, a kind of push and pull between open and closed interpretation of practice. These oppositions are so much part of Latham’s work for me, but you seem to look for meaning in the artists intentions. Do you see this as part of the preservation of the spirit of Latham? JH: My personal interest is in the theory, in pursuing Latham’s meanings in his writings and his works. This is a closed system, quite explicitly built from first principles to a theory of infinite complexity. The works do of course exist outside of this; or rather they are enactments of it rather than illustrations. Their meaning, if there is one, is not to be found in studying flat time theory but in the connection and conditions they produce. They are time-deactivating, rather than about time deactivation, and individual experiences of that experience of the time of the work will differ. Some works make their enactments explicit, such as one second drawings, or Film Star with its accompanying stopframe animation Unedited Material From a Star, but Latham would see all artworks as having this relationship to time. Latham’s rejection of fixed meaning extended to fixing the meanings of his work. Any attempt at interpretation, or at least at definitive interpretation, would elicit a denial from Latham, followed by a re-stating of the case in his terms.. I expect Latham felt that any language less complex, more fixed, than his own, would destroy, rather than simply misunderstand, his work. They are open as experiences, as events, but are closed as rational, linguistic objects.
Above: the Shift c.2000 in the Body of Flat Time House John Latham.
Cheggers, Obbers, Roggors and the Seductive Allure of Academia on the Hoof. Words by Annie Davey
An image came to mind recently that I struggled to recall during a long October night at Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Map Marathon last year; London Zoo on a cold winters morning around 1984, around 30 children stand behind metal barricades striving to look into the live camera past the back of its subject, Keith Chegwin, during one of his outside broadcasts for kids TV programme Saturday Superstore. It’s a shitty day out, but Chegwin’s cheeky-chappie demeanor is unaffected by the cold wind that threatens to blow his hat off. In fact he palpably thrives off it; with hunched shoulders and the rubbing together of microphone-laden mittens he chats to the camera, crew and audience as one. Everything is off the cuff and anything could happen, and it probably will, involving custard, or birds of prey or something. And as if he didn’t have enough to do already, interviewing children, zookeepers and UK pop stars, in this image a member of the crew comes into the shot and hands him a mug of tea and some toast with a blitz spirit pat on the back. Cheggers accepts graciously and after some incredulous juggling (telling a blessed child to “hold onto this will yeh?!”) he continues his interview whilst munching on toast and slurping back tea like a man whose life could not get any better. To this eightyear-old the scene looked just great and encapsulated something that has, until recently, emerged only as an occasional, unfocused impersonation (given the right props and conditions).
Previous spread: Keith Chegwin and Pollyanna Pickering with Princess, Saturday Superstore, 1984 Opposite: Marina Abramovic turns the tables on Hans Ulrich Obrist, Map Marathon at the Royal Geographic Society, 2010 Next spread: Ian Svenonius talks to Steve Albini, Soft Focus, 2009
The scene found its double just last year in the parallel universe of super-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Map Marathon. This was the fifth in the annual series of Serpentine Gallery Marathons that purport to be “a unique and innovative series of events that challenge notions of art, culture, science, technology, and methods of public discourse and debate”a. As the title suggests, they take the form of a kind of relentless display of cultural prowess, thematically tied together - this time by the idea of the map. Both subject and scale (in terms of breadth, mileage and ambition) are not un-typical for jet-setting Obrist, occupier of 2009’s top spot in The Art Review Power 100 and compulsive interviewerb. Testimony to his pulling power is the long and sparkling list of participants, each of whom took a turn in presenting an idea, research or performance that alluded to “the influence and possibilities of mapping in our world today”c. Fittingly, relationships between presentations were tenuous, satisfying a contemporary spirit for the broad and thematic, and no doubt it is more the frictions and constellations formed by them that Obrist is interested in. But like a vodka bar that promises a kaliedescopic taste sensation but ends up somewhere between bananas and a Twix, the diversity and volume of the event precluded much possibility of considering the propositions of each. Those who fared best did so by virtue of their relatively self-contained, trad-performance format, such as Suzanne Lacy’s re-staged Prostitution Notes, Genesis P-Orridge’s trippy cyber-mutant polemic and Gilbert and George’s po-faced rude street names. Otherwise, as the 30-minute slots clocked up, individual differences paled and the mechanics of the event took centre stage - prompting the sense that I had seen this somewhere before. Look to the left; the door. Look ahead; more maps. But look to the right for a slice of something far more sexy; Live Academia, in all its disheveled glory. Here, in the front row of seatsd a secondary performance unfolded whereby the actions of the imminent speakers framed those in the spotlight. From the fluster of last minute alterations to the scramble to pour water for one another, the front row displayed a latent glamour of
academia that exceeded the bias-cut dresses and sensible shoes, with lipstick applied using a mirror borrowed from the audience. Here, shuffling papers, half-eaten bruschetta and the glugging of water testified to having just got off planes from Istanbul, with October and Vogue poking out of briefcases and apologies for not having heard previous speakers as they have just arrived, but grasping the moment anyway and slotting into synch with projected nods and lots of charcoal grey. Multi-tasking, Obrist’s selfdeprecating jokes about lack of preparedness and the gentle prising open of a coffee lid whilst taking on board a weighty proposition. History in the making; the advancement of knowledge, created Here and Now. And all the while Obrist was everywhere, riding the wave, driven by the risk and swagger of just making it happen, at ground level, with all of us in it together. What had seduced me as child re-appeared, this time to no less entertaining, but rather more disturbing effect. In an essay titled Looking Away, writer and academic Irit Rogoff describes a way in which we project our subjectivity on art “allowing us to exit the application demanded from us and to unframe the exhibition from the isolating claims made for it from its mythic structures”e. By way of example she describes a Jackson Pollock exhibition in which she and a friend are driven to distraction by another visitor who resembles a cast member from ER, prompting an experience of the Pollock show imbued with ER analysis and a route determined by their (presumably) unsuspecting subject. Here the directed experience of the exhibition is undermined by abandon to pop cultural fancy and highly individualized experience. High art is re-framed by low culture, albeit in knowing defiance of contextual expectations. I thought about this at the Map Marathon, and wondered if I too was staging my own disruption [Rogoff’s term]. Yet at the Map Marathon, the mythic structure of the academic symposia (dusty, formal, rehearsed) had already been disrupted (by speed, endurance, juxtaposition), but in doing so revealing another in its wake: the (nearly) touchable low-browness of the art academic performance. What is a girl to do when she has already looked away but finds herself looking at another mythic structure? And when the mythic structure itself is so subtle, so behind-the-scenes, so informal as to deny recognition? To exit this application would mean either finding a new focus, say, in the audience, leading me to wonder why should I want to exit the application anyway, especially at £25 a pop? And how has this format come to aquire this newfound status? Whilst education has always been at the heart of the knowledge economy, only of late has it aquired and capitalized on this new sexy image. At a time
when ideas, discourse, experience and creativity eclipse the lumpen drag of objects and stuff, knowledge has never had more visible power, nor more stars. And in parallel with the wider recognition of education’s value in the face of its statutory extinction (literally demonstrated in all its retro glory in the recent protests) this shift can be seen in the Top Shop chic of nerds, geeks, and ‘preppy’ fashion advanced by supermodels doing degrees, just like us, as a means to up their earnings. Yet the traditions of a formal lecture or interview are here replaced by an extraction of the best bit, its experiential value. For Obrist, ‘To keep art stimulating, it’s important to open it up to new horizons, which includes showing it in unexpected contexts,’ and compares the normal museum-going experience as ‘like being on a ski piste: go left, go right… It’s too linear, too homogeneous.’f Yet much as the way in which Saturday Superstore, with its cod checkouts and employeesg reflected an 80’s ideology of consumer-led affluence in contrast to its 70’s predeccesor, the optimistic but skint MultiColoured Swap Shop, the Marathon format does not so much advance but adhere to today’s market-led appetite for reflexivity, participation and non-linear thrill. There is something increasingly attractive, indeed strange, about the idea and practice of a linear route through the National Gallery that starts at 1500 and moves onto 1560. We are big enough to know that all forms of interpretation are highly subjective,
power-coded and framed, because the frames keep telling us. And seen in a wider context of Obrist’s practice, or even curatorial trends, does this not amount to another homogenaeity? At the Map Marathon it was their sweat but also ours, sole viewers to this double performance, the real troupers for sitting through, sticking with, the programme and making it to the end. We were participants in this democracy. The problem is that this humbleness, the lo-fi, make do and mend, we are all in it all togetherness serves to obscure the newfound luminous power of academic prowess and it is perhaps this togetherness that replaces the authoritarian instruction of yesteryear’s academia that makes me doubly look away today. So where does this leave the interview, the academic conference? If the marathon leaves me just knackered, what format could move forward without a regressive withdrawal to the tight corduroy jacket and turtleneck top? One suggestion would be advancement to the tight corduroy jacket and turtleneck top. Ian Svenonius, frontman to a decade of bands making music to, and about, the American punk rock underground (Nation of Ulysees, The Make Up, Weird War), inverts the above problems while adhering to convention. His latest band, Chain and the Gang, play the role of self-appointed chain gang prisoners searching for escape from an all pervasive neo-liberalism. Live, Svenonius capitalizes on the literal platform of the
stage with the rousing speech of the political leader, his audience as disciples. Surrendering to the cliché of its holy idealism he revels in the power of the image of Paris ‘68, with its cute haircuts and cool coats, acting out the serious intent we are supposed to worship whilst indulging us in our secret fantasy. He now hosts VBS chat show Soft Focus wherein he revives the distanced, formal interview with the rock and roll underground’s main players. Badly performing the role of the 70’s talk show host-meets-academic, he reflects the tropes of systems of interrogation (in academia and the interview) whilst clearly in awe of his guests, and motivated by a tangible desire to Find Out. His concerns are specific, revolving around the intersection of art, music and politics, yet he reduces philosophical complexities to its quotations and hooks, undermining his own probably rigorous research in favour of a good story, or a catchy line. And despite his apparent sincerity, he acknowledges the latent, and rarely spoken of, sex factor of (retro) academia, perpetuating a stylised image of hanging out at thrift shops and cafes reading the introductions to French philosophy until a cute girl walks by and catches his eye. Svenonius takes centre stage, hogs the limelight and performs a dated cliché where others just inhabit a new one. And unlike any number of art events, Marathon or otherwise, I am neither tempted or compelled to look away. Why? Because comedy and pop already do this, but better. Endnotes a Map Marathon blurb in The Serpentine Gallery October-November 2010 guide b He has produced 2 maxi books of interviews with totty from the worlds of art and culture (a surprising number of which gravitate to the subject of the garden). c Map Marathon blurb in The Serpentine Gallery October-November 2010 guide d A kind of intellectual limbo between stage and backstage where I really did see a woman rush to an exposed corner to change her top, and a man with a towel over his shoulder. Remember Live Aid? e Irit Rogoff, Looking Away, in After Criticism: New Responses to Art & Performance (Blackwell 2005), ed Butt, Gavin f Telegraph.co.uk, Wed 6th Jan g Mike Read as General Manager, Sarah Green as Saturday Girl, Cheggers as Delivery boy, etc.
Agnosco Veteris Vestigia Flammae
Photographer : Harris Kyprianou Fashion Editor : Andreas Koumas Hair : Marios Neophytou Make-up : Tania Larina using Chanel Assistant Photographer : Vins Steinburg Assistant Stylist : Elena Vafea Model : Ashley Nash @ace Gr
Previous page : Dress LUTZ Above : Wrap around jacket LUTZ , bracelet ARIS GELDIS Right : Top YOHJI YAMAMOTO , trousers ANN SOPHIE BACK
Above : Coat LANVIN , skirt PRADA Right : Jacket VERSACE, trousers LUTZ
This spread : Shirt ANN SOPHIE BACK ,trousers YOHJI YAMAMOTO , belt LUTZ, hat stylist’s own
T-shirt MARIOS SCHWAB
Opposite : Dress LUTZ Next Spread : Wrap around jacket LUTZ
Legend: Le Corbusier
Words by Gordon Oâ€™Connor-Read Photographs by Ken Mcckown: www.flickr.com/photos/kenmccown/49535704/
Architecture is built upon myth and legend. The legend as an idealist, not rationalist, is what continues to charm us. None are more revered than the architect Le Corbusier, one of the founding fathers of early twentieth-century modernism. However, it was the transformation from Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, the young impressionable student from a provincial Swiss town, to the figure of ‘Le Corbusier’ that brought about a change in fortune. The assimilation of another identity, more exotic than his own, gave Le Corbusier the confidence to create evocative spaces for living, working and playing. A succession of private villas, such as the Villa Savoye, embodied them all with the intent of liberating a new generation from the yoke of conservative living. Situated in the small town of Poissy, west of Paris, this private dwelling was not your usual bourgeois country exodus. It clearly asserts the architect’s ‘Five Points’; a series of aesthetic principles that Le Corbusier had setout. They spoke of ground-level pilotis, roof gardens, non load-bearing walls, windows with views unhindered; all culminating in a paradigm of modern dwelling. Despite the generous proportions, the Villa Savoye was not a luxurious residence, rather an exercise in standard manufacturing, and every bit as ambiguous as its creator. Each facet of Le Corbusier’s makeup is traceable in this building; from the vestibule to the gardener’s own lodgings. The young Jeanneret and his pseudonym forged a close symbiotic relationship; the former being a rational component and the latter a poetic influence. This is evident in Le Corbusier’s own reflections, “The house is a box in the air, pierced all around, without interruption, by a long window. No more hesitations about architectural play of space and mass. The box is the centre of fields, overlooking orchards”. The idyllic woodland grounds he spoke of, are as much the proprietor as the glistening white structure it encircles. This gives for a startling contrast, disguising the optical illusions being played out upon the spectator, all of which became part of his repertoire. Consecrated as an historical monument by the French authorities in 1965, just over three decades after completion, the Villa Savoye remains the pinnacle of a bygone era, when an architect and idealist were one and the same.
The Balancing Barn Words by Rose Cooper-Thorne
When pioneering new company â€˜Living Architectureâ€™ set out to revolutionise holiday rentals and bring high quality, innovative architecture to the masses, they knew they would need to break the mould with their lead project.
Upon initial approach, the Balancing Barn located by a nature reserve on the Sussex Coast appears to be just another small, traditionally shaped bungalow, only revealing its theatrical 30 metre length (and dramatic 15 metre cantilever) on closer inspection. The architects, MVRDV, had previously never built in the UK, but are internationally renowned for their intelligent, sensitive and playful designs. A range of initial ideas were mooted, with the balancing structure eventually chosen as an obvious (though not easy) way to exploit the two levels of the site. The structure balances on a central concrete core, with the section that sits on the ground constructed from heavier materials than the cantilevered section. It promised to offer a feeling of being suspended above the natural surroundings, an impression reinforced by full height sliding windows, a glass floor, and large roof lights throughout the house; offering continuous views of and connectivity with nature. The elegant exterior mirrored cladding (polished stainless steel) further reflects the houseâ€™s surroundings and again gives visual continuity to the split level site. The interior spaces are simply defined. A substantial kitchen and dining room, with large sliding windows, leads to a long corridor extending the length of the house, off which there are four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. A semi concealed door off the corridor gives access, via a staircase, to the garden below. Emerging directly underneath the cantilever, you can see straight up into the living room through its glass floor. In keeping with the buildingâ€™s whimsical design, a swing hangs
playfully from the foot of the cantilever. The elongated pitched roof references traditional Suffolk architecture; and this English/ classical Dutch fusion continues inside with the interiors designed by Studio Makkink and Bey. The majority of the furniture, rugs and lighting were selected to give a strong Dutch theme, with the wall hangings then taking reference from works by John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough, who both spent their lives painting in and around Suffolk. Their work has been sampled and deconstructed so that they somewhat resemble the abstract works of Piet Mondrian, making for a literal fusion of traditional English and classical Dutch modernism. When Living Architecture founders Charlotte and Alain de Botton first met with MVRDV the initial brief tied in with the overall aim of the company- to reclaim the countryside by creating some outstanding modern homes that would engage their surroundings in a beneficial dialogue. Alain first got the idea for the company while writing â€˜The Architecture of Happinessâ€™; a book about how our environment and
surroundings can impact on our happiness and well being. With the Balancing Barn, the intention is to return the landscape to a natural meadow, which will then encourage the reintroduction of local species, along with wild flowers to attract birds and insects, and bat boxes placed within the trees. For further information please visit www.living-architecture.co.uk.
A Walk in The Clouds: The Making of a Legend in Herzog & De Meuronâ€™s Actelion Business Centre Words by JoĂŁo Paulo Nunes
Contrary to public perception, legendary architects or buildings emerge into the collective unconscious with unyielding public iconic status only very rarely. Of those privileged professionals who attain the legend status, Herzog & de Meuron are undoubtedly worthy of the moniker. Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog joined creative forces in Basle, Switzerland, in 1978 and became Herzog & de Meuron in 1997. Over the years, they have garnered the most prestigious awards available throughout the world to premiate architectural talent, including the Pritzker Prize in 2001 and the Praemium Imperiale and the Royal Gold Medal (by the Royal Institute of British Architects) in 2007. Their highly accomplished buildings are scattered throughout the continents and include the Tate Modern museum and the Laban
Centre in London, the Allianz Arena football stadium in Munich, the CaixaForum building in Madrid, and the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic stadium in Beijing. To this list of legendary buildings, Herzog & de Meuron have now added what can be confidently described as one of the most successful office buildings that the Western world has witnessed in recent years. After three years of complex engineering development, and 130 million Swiss francs later, architectural practice Herzog & De Meuron have completed the Actelion Business Centre in Allschwil, Switzerland. The building provides office space for 350 employees of Actelion Pharmaceuticals and features different areas cantilevered over one another, providing a sense of floating rooms, some of which are covered with roof terraces. Several design measures were
incorporated with the intention to contribute towards developing the building’s effective carbon neutral performance: the glass facades of the upper floor offices have been conceived downwards, allowing the building to self-shade and reduce the heat generated by the sun, and the triple-glazed windows feature louvers that adjust automatically to provide shade according to the sun’s position. The building also incorporated photovoltaic cells in its design in order to generate part of energy it needs. Function follows form in this building as the x-shaped steel bars used to bear its load structure also become appealing components of the design’s identity internally, a strategy used to great beauty in the Bird’s Nest. Despite the rigid geometric shapes required by the structural engineers involved in this sophisticated project, this is a seductive building that suggests
qualities of abundant lightness, greenness and space owing to its cantilevered perspectives and multilayered shapes and angles. In addition, each floor is laid out differently despite their core areas for accessibility and social involvement: kitchens and breakout areas coexist next to lifts and escalators, allowing for fluid communication to develop organically between employees. As office spaces go, these are ingredients that simultaneously secure individuality, well-being, and appreciation of working space. The fact that this is a reasonably low-rise building with only six floors above ground that are so well integrated into the surrounding landscape makes the Actelion business centre a most definite legendary building in the making. Photographs courtesy of Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
In a Different Light Images by Zoe Childerley
First spread: Beauty and the Beast Previous Spread: The Golden Calf Opposite: The Fox and the Boastful Brave
In a Different Light is inspired by folk tales, mythology and literature; narratives that work to distinguish communities through their allegiance to different belief systems and ancestors, but also unite humanity through the common motifs that recur across diverse culturesâ€™ oral (and, latterly, written) traditions. Childerley has worked with Hindu myths and African proverbs, Native American tales and the Old Testament. The birds and animals featured become the heroes and villains of open-ended narratives as if the viewer has stepped in halfway through a story, triggering an imaginative reverie, encouraging them to delve into the world of myth and illusion.
Above: The Magical Bird of Shangri-La Opposite: The Magpie and the Spilt Milk Next Spread: Laxmi at Diwali Final Spread: Elephant Calf Lost
Interview by Hannah Yelin
Country legend Hank Wangford is an unusual combination of ironic parody, heartfelt sincerity, encyclopaedic knowledge and daft surrealism. He delights in having an audience, both to entertain and to teach. I come away from our meeting newly knowledgeable, not just about the origins of Country music, but also the anthropology of Indian, Bulgarian and Kalahari music too. When I arrive in his London home he is fretting about admin. It seems no matter how devoted a following someone has, they can still be busy with mundane but necessary tasks. Not just the star but as he exclaims merrily, “I’m the admin too! Mrs Wangford says ‘you’ve only got yourself to blame; publishing a book, performing gigs, booking gigs, writing songs, being a doctor, doing lectures.” In affirmation a woman’s voice pipes up from somewhere else in the house, “He does too much!” He spots the plaster from a blood test on my arm and the next ten minutes consist of reassuring medical advice. On the news that my tonsils are coming out he asks, dead serious, “You’re not a champion yodeller are you?” No. “I ask because there was a craggy old Country singer called Ernest Tubb. He had such a good voice. Out of tune, but it didn’t matter because he had character. He was a fan of a man called Jimmy Rogers, who in the thirties worked on the railroads: The Singing Breakman. He’s singing the blues but on the end of each verse he’d yodel. So Ernest, being a huge fan, yodelled. Then he had his tonsils out and he couldn’t yodel anymore. The great sadness for me is that I haven’t been able to yodel.” Because you don’t have tonsils? “No. Just because I can’t. I never really had a good falsetto where you crack your voice, ‘ahhhhheeeeeee!’ It’s not all ‘yodelaayhehee.’ The yodel comes from all over the world. Kalahari Bushmen yodel across the desserts, Pygmy women yodel their babies to sleep with this lovely kind of ‘yaweeawwaawweeawweeaww.’ There’s something otherworldly about the crossing between the chest voice and the head voice. Magic. Anyway…” He stops himself. “That’s the lesson for today” says his partner, suggesting these fact-filled digressions are common. His medical and musical knowledge constantly overlap. “People say how can you be both a doctor and a musician? And it seems to me to be fantastically obvious that the two go together. Music being a healing and joining thing. They’re all part of the same spectrum.The greatest separation is that between mind and body. A fake separation because there is, in actuality, no separation. Mind is body, body is mind. They are both manifestations of each other.” I’d told Hank that I’d just returned from India and sees a connection. “Indian music very much works on that level that you could call visceral or soul. In Western classical concerts the protocol is ‘Shhhh’ – when a piece just tears your heart you don’t go ‘Woarrrhhh!’ In Indian classical that’s exactly what you do. Your man playing a little bit on the Sitar goes ‘dowwwwwwwwoooowwwwww’ and people go ‘Wharrh,’ heads bobbing to the time, going round the circle of the sixteen beats, getting to the top before he drops back on to the beat again. The audience lifts…up…and…then…boom! You can see it in the audience, its soul. Indian music is wonderful.” We should talk about your music, Hank. “OK I’ll shut up. I hear it’s
a hip magazine. What the fuck do you want to talk to me for? What’s it called Stimulus Respond? Yeah that’s a bit wanky.” When I tell him that this issue will be in London Fashion Week goodybags he perks up, “Ahhh, well Hank might be just the thing because, look, Hank is the cover of the current issue of The Hat magazine.” Amazing. “I played the first Hat Festival in Britain and had thirty hats, one for every song. An attractive assistant came on between songs with the next hat and I’d tell its story.” For an audience of milliners? “There were hat enthusiasts in the audience, but there were a lot of Hank enthusiasts too, we’ve a great following in Dorset. And Hank might, might be voted Hat Wearer of the Year by The Hat magazine [reverent gasp]. It doesn’t get any better than that.” I ask how come he talks about Hank in the third person. “I do right now, it depends on the person I’m talking to. It’s just because I know you. Hank’s very much part of my identity. When I’m on the road and some cleverdick wants to call me Sam because [puts on macho voice] ‘I wanna cut through this bullshit, let’s get real.’ Fuck off, I’m Hank. Sam is a doctor in London. Who do you want to talk to? It’s very definite. What is real in this life? The name somebody gave me when I was born? What’s real about identities? Does David Furnish call Elton Reg? Probably not. The woman of my dreams calls me Hanky. Bob Dylan didn’t go around calling himself Robert Zimmerman. He invented a character who’d been on the road, a Woody Guthrie for our time. He was a middle class Jewish boy from Minnesota. He doesn’t ride the fucking railroads. It’s about context.” Hank has been making music for many decades. “The reason most young people, most men, pick up a guitar is to pull. That’s why Lennon picked one up - boys pick up guitars to pull girls. Particularly if you’re born, like Sam, not the handsomest man on the block. So I’ve been playing since I was sixteen, writing very bad songs. They only got good about thirty years ago. One of the reasons it got better was I got a context. Country music. Before I got that context I loved soul. Ray Charles took church music and put it into the blues. People said you can’t do that, that’s sacred music. ‘Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh let me tell you…’ that’s what the preacher does. The blues is sex and low life, church is church. I dreamed I had the voice of Ray Charles. Dream on my son! You have a thin little white voice, what are you going to do with it?” “In the late sixties I met a man called Gram Parsons, a cult hero for many people. People almost want to touch the hem of my garment because I’ve touched the hem of his. He’s the Jesus of Country rock. So I became Gram’s mate and over a period of about a year he took me through all of the music he liked. I was immersed. This is at the time when I
was a roc and roll doctor. I met Gram was because I was The Who’s, Grateful Dead’s and Keith Richard’s doctor.” Is that a role that one can just apply for? “I was living in a flat in Exhibition Road, sharing with a girl called Jenny Fabian, who became famous or infamous for a book called Groupie, about rock and roll and shagging. And a guy called Robert Chapman who was the bizarre lead singer of a culty sixties rock band called Family. I was a hippy doing homeopathy and taking lots of acid. Then I was being the doctor at all the legendary festivals. Then…I became the official doctor.” He skips over this, but the image of him going around festivals unofficially treating people is a funny one. “It was very much alternative medical care. For example, how do you treat someone who’s having a bad trip?The orthodox medical view was a chemical cosh called Largactil. They’d still be completely crazy in their head, but wouldn’t bother you - they’d be sedated. Forget horse tranquilisers, Ketamine. These are elephant tranquilisers. Whereas at, for instance, the Isle of Wight, I’d have a medical tent and book seven likeminded doctors and we’d treat people, with love. So there’d be doctors lying on the ground, with patients going ‘aaarrrrgggghhhh, it’s coming for me’ and we’d be saying ‘shhhh, you’re ok dear.’ Non-drug, just love. All you need is love.” It’s certainly an odd image. “At that time we could still prescribe cannabis. So we did, hand over fist. As a political action. I was one of the people who signed the famous or infamous full page ad the Beatles paid for in The Times saying ‘the law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice.’ They had Crick and Watson the Nobel Prize winners, politicians and Dr Sam Hutt, one of the signatories. So I was right in there. And I was making music and I’d brought out my first single - a seriously psychedelic version of Jabberwock, the Lewis Carroll poem. Because at that time, as I said, I was making really crap lyrics. They were not good. So I used Lewis Carroll, which I loved, being a hippy. Jabberwock is today voted one of the top 100 psychedelic singles of all time. Very collectable, not because it’s good, but because collectors are nerds. The single trades for about £400 but I no longer have a copy.” He laughs at this irony. “After I was hanging out with Gram, who came to me because he was hanging out with Keith and taking massive amounts of very high quality heroin. Keith always said that Gram got better drugs than he did because Gram was a rich boy. He had a trust fund and was seriously wealthy. That’s how the connection came about. And how the epiphany came about. He came round and picked up my guitar, which he wanted to swap for his Martin, and I told him to fuck off. Otherwise that would be Gram’s guitar hanging
“I woke up this morning, got the blues. I’m feeling like crap. Not, I woke up this morning and I’m feeling great, it’s all terrific”
there. But no, fuck off if you think you’re swapping my guitar for a scabby Martin.” “Anyway Gram plays the song George Joneson made famous, real class honkytonk: An Empty Bottle of Broken Heart But You’re Still On My Mind. About trying to drink it away, but you can’t. So everything that everyone from outside Country music says about ‘Oh it’s all just about crying into your beer.’ Yes! And your point is?” he says defiantly. “And it’s all miserable. Yes, and your point? Aren’t all the best songs miserable? Of course! The blues, man, the blues! By definition miserable. I woke up this morning, got the blues. I’m feeling like crap. Not, I woke up this morning and I’m feeling great, it’s all terrific. So that was the point of conversion. I thought, I’ve always loved soul and there’s soul in this music too. It isn’t the frippery I’d thought, all about grannies being knocked over by trucks and that bollocks. Well, that happens too. And of all music I find with Country music, all human life is there. Our - I mean Brits - more specifically English - thing against Country is our problem with any exhibition of emotions. Country music is too much, but I love it being too much.” “After being converted by Gram I was getting sick of the ‘Hey Doctor Sam this, Hey Doctor Sam that’ sycophancy. And I see an ad in the paper saying ‘Any Doctors to Saskatchewan’ in the Canadian Prairies. And the only music you heard there was…Country music. I’d play with a Country band and gradually the conversion was complete. I then hitched to San Francisco. There was this band called Commander Cody. They were wild, drug taking loonies so I identified hugely with them. They liked the same music, but they had a sense of humour too. I went from the soulful seriousness of Gram to the wackiness of Commander Cody. So that’s how I centred in on Country music as a way of writing songs. From then on songs were a bit better. So I finally started as Hank in ‘76.” I ask him about the different sorts of Country music around today. “What’s called New Country is hellspawn. Terrible shite with a capitol S. Nashville product. Music to sell through FM radio. Just fucking
awful. AOR, Adult Orientated Rock, what could be more bland? And they still love it in America. The youth all go there in their cowboy hats and it’s … music to linedance to. ‘Um cha - Umum cha.’ I’ve got nothing against linedancers. But I don’t make line dancing music, it’s not for me. In Alt Country people take the framework of Country but present it in a contemporary way. The context shifts. In a good way.” This he compares to his track You Get What You Get And That Is the Law from the album Whistling In The Dark. “It’s just me, steel player, drummer and bass. It’s dreamy. I have a Ragini, which is basically a digital tamboura box from India. We started the track with the Ragini and built up from that. I must just show you this.” Hank leads me to the table, fumbling to get the Ragini plugged in. “You can put it into any key you like.” It begins a beautiful whiney twang. “And then you can favour a particular note in the triad. Like we have Do-Re-Mi, they’ll have Sa-Me-Va. Now it’s interesting that’s C# is the Indian C. Their C is C#. Why? Why is the central tone in Indian music C#? I don’t know what is so visceral about C#. Indian music is all about the tension, pulling you away from the central note.” He sings and affects orgasmic relief when he finally lands on his C#.” Hank explains his repeated digressions into the music of other cultures. “My two TV series on Country music were called ‘HW’s A to Z of C and W.’ Starting with A is for Africa we go to the Kitsigi tribe who have a sort of whispery music. And in the thirties the Kitsigi tribe worshiped this man I told you about called Jimmy Rogers, as a fawn. Half way between a god and an antelope. Not even because of his yodelling but his guitar playing. They thought it very like their lute playing. There’s this wonderful thing in the BBC archive where you see these people dancing round a fire chanting ‘hallojimmiroger, hallojimmiroger’. So he was the first great international Country superstar. Jamaica, they’re mad for Honkytonk because it’s built on a backbeat, exactly as scar and reggae. It’s just where you place the backbeat and, therefore, where the tension lies. ‘Achum achum achum.’ There’s so many connections between these things.”
“D is for Duets. When you get two voices singing in harmony you get this special magic. An hour about duets, about women in Country music, god in Country music, Mexican music. Americans dismiss Mexico, ‘Our back yard.’ No guys it’s your front garden, it’s where all your cowboy culture comes from. It’s all Hispanic, not white-anglo culture. It wasn’t brought over by the Pilgrim Fathers. The final program was Bulgarian music. What the fuck has this got to do with Country music? Exactly. But let’s tick the boxes. Country music: miserable music. Bulgarian music: miserable music. Music of oppression? The facile thing to say about Country is that it’s white man’s blues. In fact as Country and the blues grew there was no black and white. Hank Williams was taught by a black singer, white guy singing the blues. So there’s no kind of racism, well, in the music itself. So Country music is white man’s blues. Bulgarian music comes from hundreds of years of oppression by the Turks. They weren’t allowed to wear their own clothes, to have anything graphic, to speak their own language, so music carried their identity. Plus I love Bulgarian music so I had to wangle it somehow.” This is typical of Hank. Puffing something up, then puncturing it immediately. “There’s a universality. This might sound nothing like Ernest Tubb, George Joneson or Jonny Cash, sure. But it has the same roots of longing, yearning, sad music. That ‘nyeeeeiiii’ semitone, that dischord, things that to us at first sound weird, but that then start getting to you. And like Indian music, Bulgarian music goes even further because they take that semitone, and then they move it, into the quarter tone to a point where it sounds like a fly buzzing against your eardrum. And at first you don’t like it, then, you start to long for it.” I ask Hank to describe his live performances. “You bring in another element to all this: humour. I always liked the idea of the holy fool. The Shaman, the healer, would act the fool. Laughing opens you up. I’m playing in ‘76 with the first Hank band, at the same time punk just exploded onto the scene. So what is the most unpopular form of music you could play? Country. The Country circuit was narrow-minded. They wanted cover bands they can stick their thumbs in and linedance to. We kept getting chased out of Country clubs. And if you play to a non-Country crowd, Jesus Christ, how am I gonna sell this to people who don’t want to hear it? Make them laugh. And Bam! While they’re laughing slip it in and they won’t notice and Bam! Here comes one about crying in your beer and you thought you never liked this and your mother warned you against it but Bam! It’s in there.” “We found this thing called the Rural Arts Touring Scheme. The most wonderful part of my life. I’ve now
played 245 village halls. You have the intimacy, you can walk around and explain Country music to people as you go. Draw them in, make them laugh, Bam!” Hank’s comedy prowess won the band a Perrier nomination when they performed at the Edinburgh festival in 1984. “Yeah the very first Edinburgh Festival we did, that got up people’s noses! People have this perception ‘You’re taking the piss out of Country music.’ No. I’m taking the piss out of attitudes. And there’ll be attitudes in Country music just as there’ll be attitudes in British politics that are worth taking the piss out of.” This is the first time he’s mentioned his politics which are actually also another large part of his performances. “In the eighties we got very involved in the miners’ strikes. We were part of that movement. The GLC had a big celebration in July ’84. There were 20,000 people, Arthur Scargill, union leaders, politicians, Billy Bragg and us. Nazi skinheads jumped up on stage, smashed our instruments, whacked us about and shouted ‘Zieg Heil!’ down the microphone. Everyone froze. Our steel player still has a scar on his face. But they got retribution when they ran off into the crowd. Beaten up. Broken arms. But we survived and I got a song out of it, which I sing to this day, called No One Knows You When You’re On The Line.” I ask him what he’s seen change in the forty plus years he’s been making music. “An acceptance of Country music. Before I met Gram Parsons, I thought it was shite. People now realise that rock and roll, Country, Blues, Folk, Hispanic, German, Czech, Honkytonk are all from similar roots. These different influences formed this whole body of music. What’s changed is that Country is now part of that, it’s no longer a dirty word. Nowadays I don’t have to be apologetic about it. Country and proud.
Gaggle Interview by Hannah Yelin
Genuine originality is so rare that, when it finally comes hurtling at you, it can be hard to put into words. Legends in the making, Gaggle, are unlike any other music act the world has ever seen. Music journalists are prone to overstatement and yet, try as I might to down play that statement, it holds true. Their bellowing sound, their fierce attitude, their takeno-prisoners performances and their sheer number make them a redoubtable presence. Yet it’s not just noise. There’s an intelligence and creativity behind the clamouring bedlam that makes what they are doing so potent. Firstly, there are 25 of them. Their number swells and contracts as members come and go, but it’s always close to that number. Whilst they are always articulate about why they are doing what they are, and seem to be dripping with purpose, clear about what they are for or against, their number means that they will resist being reduced to or pinned to one interpretation of their act. For instance on the subject of women in pop music it’s clear to see that they problematise the traditional role that women have played. As Gaggle member Strick says, “the tendency in ‘pop’ music is to fetishise female youth & beauty over talent and personality, certainly in recent decades. We’re trying to readdress in our own way some kind of balance, though there is a huge hill to climb.” However, ask what the politics of the group are and she says simply, “We are 25 people’s politics.” Each member, or gaggle, might be up on stage for their own reasons - “I wanted to sing as I was bored and its really that simple...” says Strick - with their own understanding of what they are doing. And yet, they are a united, cohesive whole. Asked how this works, Strick says wittily, “By total dictatorship. Without the usual inevitable genocide.” The despot in question is Deborah Coughlin, conductor, composer and high priestess of the group. “I wanted to create the most powerful and unique musical act within my capabilities, which combined my politics, grievances and ambitions.” Something she is already achieving with aplomb. For fellow gaggle, Swanimaru, the troupe dynamic works “pretty well actually.” She describes the atmosphere as being like “one big group of friends.” But if that sounds a little saccharine, she quickly punctures this, “If one of us gets to rowdy, chief gaggle Coughlin gives us Valium to calm us down.” An effective method of crowd control. For any readers who have yet to have the pleasure of encountering the music that comes out of this uproarious tumult, Strick describes it as “Loud, discordant. It used to make my Dad cry. I think out of joy... I think we’re fairly uplifting, in a bassy, dub kind of way...” The combination of intellectually
deconstructing and reacting to pop music convention and wholeheartedly participating in the inspiring exhilaration of group song, lifts them far above the potential for a kind of art school cynicism and into the territory of original, stirring, impassioned artists. In the short time they have been performing, they have rapidly built an infamous reputation for the strident, erupting fracas that surrounds them. Swanimaru elaborates on this, “I think this is because from the very beginning Gaggle was a truly original force to be reckoned with. Not only is Gaggle all female, but the image, the sound, the concept, has never ever been done before. In a time where there isn’t lot of originality, Gaggle has it by the bucket load.
“When they experience Gaggle for the first time - especially live - they are either in complete awe or complete fear” People are spoon fed all this mass popular culture, so when they experience gaggle for the first time - especially live - they are either in complete awe or complete fear. Gaggle forces people to ask questions or maybe even question themselves. Not many bands have the power to do that these days.” Part of the explosive commotion is the colourful riot they appear in their fantastical stage costumes. From dayglow medieval robes and banners to perplexingly demented Maypole dancers. It’s part of what makes them unique from anything else you’ve seen, and part of what binds them together on stage. Swanimaru explains, “The costumes unite us, they are also a reaction against the stereotypical female typecast in music.” Back to the subject of women, Coughlin says, “I think recently, very recently, we have had a spate of very high profile women in pop music, many of them choosing to do it in a way I don’t find particularly fascinating.” She differentiates here between the great deal of music that is made by women, and those few female music artists that are actually visible in the media. “I think there’s more women making music. But, if you ever get a woman on the front cover of Q, which I think has happened 4 times in 3 years, they either appear topless, or with a t-shirt with a pic of a pair of tits on it” She’s referencing the 2007 Q magazine cover that featured Kylie with sex face, seriously emphasised breasts printed on her top, and the incredibly offensive headline, ‘Strewth, now that’s the way to make a comeback.’
“Or,” she continues, “with a strap-on on like the Gaga. Now then. What role are these women choosing to put themselves in, in order to get that cover?” Many women (and men) share this anger, but how exciting it is to have talented artists rapidly ascending to success whilst articulating these problems endemic in the music industry. In this way, Gaggle are a wonderful aberration. It is sadly unsurprising that reactions to Gaggle have included “kneejerk bigotry” as written about by Josh Hall for Fractions of One, “I first saw Gaggle with four or five male friends, all of whom I consider to be relatively open minded. But they had a disturbing, almost violent response to the show. They fell worryingly quickly into ill-considered jokes; one said it was “like watching Loose Women.”” Yet, whilst they are provocatively, singularly different, Gaggle are quick to point out that there are many precedents before them. As Strick identifies, “Women have occupied many fascinating, if not necessary high profile positions in music over the years - Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire, Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush as pioneers of sound come to mind.” And the group are certainly not short of heroines, or heroes, as Strick, Gusset, Swanimaru and Coughlin rapidly reel off when I ask. Stretches from Fiona Banner and Lydia Lunch, through the Aphex Twin and Ralph Vaughan Williams, to Shirley Bassey and Gusset’s mum. Coughlin says, “Some people are my heroes for years, some last only a few months. But right now Judy Garland, Kanye, La Lupe, CocoRosie, Eddi Reader, Tom Tom Club, Mazzy Star, Neon Blond, Olaf Arnalds and Simon Dempsey.” ** All this they combine into a stage act with some extraordinary and legendary performances behind them. “For me the gig at Bush Hall we did last June was personally important and really quite emotional. It represented the culmination of a lot of work and the response was incredible,” says Strick, “But when we had a small stage invasion in Hamburg, that was surreal.” For Swanimaru, their most momentous gig “would have to be opening reading festival. We played to a packed out crowd and then did an impromptu song in the guest area. At which point they tried to kick us out!” “Our performances are theatrical,” says Gusset. This is an understatement. “Loud, unnerving,” continues Swanimaru, “fun, inspiring, intelligent, spellbinding.” Having been invited to join the group for one of their rehearsals, it was certainly all of those things. When I arrived I was given to a gaggle called McClean, a photographer when she’s not being a gaggle. I was to follow her, do as she did, sing what she sang in the rehearsal. Surrounded by their beautiful racket, I did my best to keep up. After a joyous hour spent being wonderfully noisy,
I left giddy and euphoric, feeling like I’d been allowed to participate in something very special and probably quite important too. Coughlin says “Our performances are how church should be.” And there’s no doubt that I am, as many many people are going to be, a convert.
The King of the Blinds
â€œIn each fate of marginality and royalty, the greek myth continues to question our gaze: who is really blind? In the neighborhood of Koro Afoju, shelter of the blinds of Ilorin, the wisdom of Tiresia and the humanity of the last exiled Oedipus is still living there and is impressed on the nigerian face of the King of the Blinds and on that one of his Court.â€?
Anna Nardandrea Images by Marco Ambrosi www.marcoambrosi.com
Label notice a cow pointing at the smitten sheep? René Hector (Agiad) 1859 - 1891 Parking for 300 Spartans (Leonidas at Thermopylae), 1502-1504 Black chalk, squared line breaks 16 x 21 5/8 in. (40.6 x 54.9 cm) A compositional study for René Hector’s large canvas of the same subject it is signed and dated 2010. The drawing is a new purchase for The Museum of Drawing (Room 4), Whitby. A dark room, René sits there singing … DRAWING DOES NOT MEAN … ANYTHING … NOTHING … ANYTHING … SOMETHING … EVERYTHING … NOTHING... i) softly kissing … The drawing was produced for a lover, a friend of Hector’s called Ada Algren, but it remained in the painter’s studio. It was purchased by the Museum of Drawing, Whitby in the sale immediately after Hector’s alleged death, in 1891. Note that the drawing is you up in two distinct and separate stages thereby offering to sharpen into the artists wings to view, master and circulate the lower creative process. The upper case is lightly sketched, incorporating a sign, a shout, a sheet in a darker detailed swear, in order to organise the prose into a form that is absolutely and irrefutably obvious. ii) come home … The composition is reworked and proves emphatic with black chalk. It maintains that impotence resembles life in the same way as the latest apparition of a sheep proves the Hectorian field. Its existence had already been established by the discovery of graphite, smit, sweating sickness and René Hector’s theory of ambiguity by critical selection. iii) let me in … In refining and simplifying the landscape and figures, especially on the right side we are able to discern Hector’s passive positive sign without rhyme or reason clearly also out of date. Hector marks the importance of boredom – originality – we are told is Leonidas, leader of the Spartan troops. He’s not wearing … dark woollen cap, white shirt open to the chest, pure white knee-length apron covering the trousers, dark hose and his shirtsleeves are not rolled up above the elbows.
iv) the door is locked â€Ś Human, true in relation to innocent pleasures he is shown calm and unwavering as his men prepare to battle the Persians for the sight of the first drawing at the pass of Thermopylae. Many of the impulsive poses and figural types used by Hector refer to classical prototypes to crucify boredom, as does the lighted practice - alert and debated during the artistâ€™s time that lay in wait for years - of depicting classical warriors as nude in forests.
v) softly pleading â€Ś The drawing (the short, thickset proportions of the figures lend heaviness to the composition.) is a word where practice is play[wright]. An invention of different subjects and, instead of situating suitable characters on the level of the drawings intelligence, tries to find subject (according to whichever theoretical method he practices) to give weight to its plot; a talking and self-defining story. Hector worked tirelessly on this drawing, where every spectator is a plotter, returning to it time and again to create coarseness, characterised by the stiff attitude of the figures in movement. vi) let you out (three day permit) It is exprefsly ordered by the Drawing that no mark shall enter the Surface except on business or remain longer than is necessary to perform what they have to do vii) come home Parking for 300 Spartans (Leonidas at Thermopylae) occupied Hector for almost fifteen years. He made many other drawings for his composition, constantly changing the groups and the poses of the figures. We should consider it as futile and geological in order to discover its etymological, historical or psychological meaning. Did Hector believe that this drawing (these drawings) could not be built as a parlay? The composition converges into an erratic hare. Criticism as retrieval is argued as archaeological impotence and cannot accept any theories beyond the stalactites of rhyme.
viii) let you out (no permit) In an earlier ensemble drawing, a line image of a fossilised mud pool consisting of overlapping curves and zigzags, Leonidas was seen in three-quarter profile, and the groups around him were somewhat confusing. An immense geological landscape of erratic rocks closed off the background. The Whitby drawing precedes the finished painting by 3.5 to 4.5 million years. In the final painting, the tree on the right would have far fewer branches and leaves, in order to free the background, where we can see the donkey that ate the pencil leaving what is about to become the drawing. In this version Xerxes is not portrayed in his quest for the erratic fossilised drawing that dates the earth. ix) come home Parking for 300 Spartans (Leonidas at Thermopylae) was finished the very year that Ada Algren abdicated the making of two lines. They have been observed as parallel yet meet on the paper and we see Leonidas, in the centre, naked and preparing for becoming powder â€Ś contd. x) let you in On the left of the drawing, a sheep draws on an erratic a phrase: impotent time and tide They embrace before wandering through the spaces in the boundary of the extended field dressed as diamonds while others equip themselves with words or shields. In the background you can make out the ships of the travelling concepts. ÂŠ The Fictional Museum of Drawing, Whitby Phil Sawdon
Words by Derek Horton
MAKING-TOWARD-ART’S-(LEGENDARY)-BODY a cata-conversation between two wanderers Setting: Somewhere deep in the misty wilds of an open karstic region slightly Westward of the Eastern Mid-Lands. “Sometimes reality can be too complex to be conveyed by the spoken word. Legend remoulds it into a form that can be spread across the world.” (‘Spoken’ by the computer ‘Alpha-60’ at the beginning of Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville’ (1965).) > Thank heavens! What a stroke of luck, bumping into you just when I’d given up hope of finding my way off this blighted moor. I’m completely lost and desperate to get back to the city. > But what on earth are you doing here? > I was directed here by the Trustees of the Rueby Wouldman Fund. I’ve just received their Lifetime Award for Really Trying Under Really Trying Circumstances. They advised me to make the most of whatever time remains. But I’ve already had enough of this grey shrouded umbral scape to last me several lifetimes. I’m at a loss. There are neither paths, landmarks nor seductive scenery hereabouts. > Surely the seductive lies in the eyes of the beholder? Take Kiefer for example… > … oh, never mind all that aesthetic nonsense! What brought you to this pretty pass? > Well, by a strange coincidence, I was lucky enough to be awarded, by the very same Trustees, one of the Fund’s Fellowships in Interruptive Wandering. Its only condition is for the recipient to stroll randomly through the region in the hope that… > …that what? > …that one might, in time, stumble across some clues as to how to make for Art’s Body. > That’s odd. My acceptance of the Lifetime Award stipulated that I had to scour this marshy desert for the conditions of my continuing failure to get anywhere near that Body. They suggested that if only I could identify the things guaranteeing my perennial falling short then I might be released from failing’s binds into a vitally different relation to Art’s Legendary Body. > Legendary! Why ‘Legendary’? For me the Body is far from the stuff of legends or myths – it’s utterly real and always close by. I can sense that Body now. It consists of a collection of just those Art gests that, by their very difference from all the other things constituting my everyday life, have harried and seduced me away from the terms of that life and cast me off towards its elsewhere. It’s that other site that I’m trying to make toward now, right here, through my fractured chance perambulations. > That’s fine, but surely your problem is going to be that, as my endless failure testifies all too clearly, the Body you have gathered so assiduously and lovingly simply never can ‘be’ right here. You yourself spoke of its ‘elsewhere’. That’s why, in spite of all my angst-ridden efforts, I consistently fail to get within the Body’s touching distance. Is it not precisely the ‘elsewhere’ of the everyday that absolutely cannot be accommodated by the latter? However much you want to draw it onto the plane of your own
becoming right here in the course of your pathless meanderings through this forbidding zone, Art’s Body is, in its very constitution, the ‘other-to’ any ‘this-here’. You could never induce it to alight, tarry awhile, and then make itself at home here. That’s why, in its very absence from here, it has to begin in and as legend and thus go on to lead a definitively legendary life. It can never be part of this or any other real scene! > But surely legends can, maybe have to, begin from and grow out of the very real events that characterise the experiences and feelings making up our everyday lives together. Doesn’t that apply to Art’s Body too? For it to have any kind of a life it has to mix it with everything else that’s right here. It must make its appeals from within the thick of things. After all the very gests we makers assemble in the hope of their absorption by the Body are, in their defining materiality, nowhere else but right here jammed in amongst the rest of the world’s uncountable detritus. > Well of course each of the things you, I, and the others try to make in the hope of their absorption by Art’s Legendary Body have to assert that hope by making patent their singularity. After all it is each gest’s concrete, and hopefully seductively thoughtful, difference from both all the other gests and the stuff of everyday life that opens onto absorption’s possibility. Yet at the same time they have to find a way of escaping from this very real immersion in the everyday world by secreting something that resists… > …or, better, refuses… > …yes, refuses the everyday’s efforts to gather them all up in meaning’s suffocating mansion. For such fixing disposing work is what the everyday world organises itself around. All the institutions that hold the arts in their grasp seek to bring them back to and within the routines of technical knowledges. Think of all the disciplines that surround and seek to permeate the arts in order better to bring them under their own narrow knowledge-controls. They have to make sense of them, construct consistent histories and narratives, stories if you like, legends even, about them that lock them into codes and disciplinary rhetorics within which they become mere examples of methodic visions having nothing to do with the terms of their gests’ emergence. Whereas making-toward-Art wants none of that! The singular differences of its gests offer themselves only as other to the meanings sustaining the everyday world. And that is precisely where the Legendary comes into its own in showing Art’s Body as not-here, as a gathering that is otherwise to everything that routinely just ‘is’ for us. > So could this half-sense of the Body’s Legendary quality be a way of holding two incompatible elements of the Body together in the tension of some sort of permanently volatile relation? For if the gests made for Art are simultaneously both right here and yet somewhere other entirely, then your and my making will
constitute and be consumed by the struggle to hold these incompatibles together. It seems that, in this vision, making has to lead a tortuous double-life, being both Actual and Virtual. > Surely it was ever thus! And never more so than now under the planetary rule of programmed informatics in which every ‘actual’ can be instantly transposed into and represented as a digitally programmed ‘virtual’. Twitter and blog as one will under the illusion of ‘being-in-touch’, it is exactly ‘touch’ itself, and the real movement of becoming that touch(ing) and being-touched-by (and thus Art) entails, that is deferred forever by the process of digitising transformation. Forget the ‘living present’ now! All we’re left with is the techno-representation of everything. > You’re beginning to sound irredeemably pessimistic – a soul entrammeled in the wiles of the Silicon Valley technophobes! > Well that’s one reason why I was hoping for more from my traversings across this karstic vale. I saw my challenge here as that of excavating responses to my being at least temporarily released from the Really Trying Circumstances of fleshly permeation by the programmed- virtual. But, consistent with my entire past, I have so far failed to turn my exposure to the zone’s emptiness into something for Art. > Perhaps you are clinging too fast to the angst of failure! You need to empty yourself of such worldly obstacles and allow this deserted region to fill you to the full with its vacuum. Surely that was the hope of the Trustees, and maybe even dear old Rueby herself! Maybe then your affinity for Art’s Body, Legendary or otherwise, will generate something singularly yours from the void the region might just induce in you. As you insist on the defining quality of the Legendary for the vitality of Art’s Body perhaps you could find ways of allowing it to displace all your rhetoric about our subordination to the technomatic world. It’s clearly worn you out. You need to drop all that stuff and start again from somewhere else, maybe from an inviting elsewhere that’s actually right here! > Mmmmm, certainly it’s the elsewhere I crave and which I take to be Art’s sole offer. > So what about the Legendary as an opening onto other possibilities for you? If, as I suggested, all who try to make for Art condemn themselves to the impossible task of mixing the immiscibles – the Actual and the Virtual - could this very tension be the stuff of a quirky legend that opens onto making’s way of life? > You may be onto something. But I’m not sure I can reconcile that double life, that living-making tension, with what I take to be the Legendary source of Legend itself. You see, if we are to be true to the legacy of the word ‘legend’, then we must surely live within and try to make the most of its offer. The consequence would be that to treat Art’s Body, the hoped-for destination of your and my makings, as Legendary would require us to approach it as that which, in the singularity of its emergence and its limit, has to be read. > What on earth are you talking about? > Our word ‘legend’, and thus all things ‘legendary’, is a direct descendent of the Latin verb ‘legere’ whose several meanings, such as ‘to gather’, ‘to collect’, ‘to pick’, ‘to choose’, ‘to catch with the eye’, cohere, one might even say gather themselves, around its root sense – ‘to read’. And in this root it is, as you will easily recognise, very closely affiliated to the ‘law’ (via ‘lex’ and all thing ‘legal’), and to the Greek
> It seems that, in this vision, making has to lead a tortuous doublelife, being both Actual and Virtual.
word for ‘word’ itself – ‘lexis’. > Okay okay, but what could all this have to do with our making-toward-Art’sBody? > Well, more specifically, ‘legend’ is derived from that strange form of the Latin verb – the gerund. This generates a noun-form of the verb’s infinitive – it’s the little double consonant ‘nd’ tag at the word’s end that marks its work. I see you’re yawning! Sorry if I’m boring you but this is absolutely crucial. You see, this gerund (the word itself being the gerundive deriving from ‘gerere’ – ‘to bear’ or ‘carry’) converts the infinitive into a noun referring to either persons or things that have to undergo the action described by, carried within, the verb. There’ll be examples already familiar to you, such as ‘agenda’ - meaning ‘those things that have to be done or acted upon’. > You mean like ‘propaganda’ – ‘those things that must be propagated, sown as seeds in our minds’? > Just so! And think of others such as ‘addendum’, ‘dividend’, ‘horrend(ous)’, ‘South Muskham Prebend’… > …and ‘pudenda’ – ‘those things of which one must be ashamed’… > Exactly! You’ve got the hang of it. And don’t forget those lovely names ‘Amanda’ – ‘she who must be loved’, and ‘Miranda’ – ‘she who must be admired and exalted’! > It’s almost as if this gerund is carrying a sense of necessity or obligation. > Well, I’d go further and suggest that the compulsion you are pointing to refers us back to something deeper that drives… > …a driving force maybe… > …definitely - some inner force whose effects are felt where language, primarily in the form of speech, but borne also in the written word, converts the corporeal’s pressures and urgings into something like sense. The words emerge as a kind of transliteration of inchoate forces that move within us, but then have their effects on the outside through the traces of force they manage to infuse in the words. > So legend and the legendary might be imbued with this force of an action of gathering-collecting that comes forth as, perhaps even defines, the emergence of language as deposited in and through sounds, traces, spoor, marks, notes, graphisms, all demanding, in their multiple ways, to be read. > And, if so, could it be that legend is bringing us face to face, eye to eye, ear to eye and vice versa, with languaging itself as just this originating demand that we cannot brook? So the word(s) offered as legend thus separate and deliver languaging from the body. Simultaneously they preserve traces of the latter’s continuing visceral forces that are themselves aside from and in advance of all willing, all reason-grounded choosing. Perhaps it is just such words, such legendary gerundives, that remind us that all languaging bears traces of inner forces which remain, at the same time, way beyond everything we gather as ‘culture’ and thus beyond ‘us’, we who are undoubtedly, and despite all our technical-calculative knowing ways, still, fundamentally, pleistocenians. > So, if Art’s Body is, as you suggested, Legendary…
> …but always over-there, ‘away-from-here’ as Kafka reminded us… > …it is because it has to be read? > Do we not, as makers, produce this Body as unavoidably over-there, even though for you its inspiration is the driving force to make-toward-Art that you feel right here? Is it not the gathering up-ahead for which we yearn but can never grasp? And do we not, precisely in the course of the uncertainties and doubts that dog our making, experience it as a Beyond toward which we hope our gests (gerere again…!) are being sent on their way while never knowing if they will have arrived, will have been absorbed by the Legend that we have ourselves constructed as a kind of distant model that seems to summon us, nay drive us, toward itself? > Hence your perennial sense of failure!
> Perhaps that is why we makers immediately lose interest in the gests once we have abandoned them to their external fate.
> That’s right. Every maker’s unique and idiosyncratic gathering of a shifting ensemble of gests and events, together constituting a Legendary Body-Beyond, is the goad to their own making. We goad ourselves to go on and on without ever knowing whether the gests we send forth in response to the Legendary Body that we ourselves have assembled, will ever be absorbed by that seemingly proximate yet absolutely unreachable Body. > Perhaps that is why we makers immediately lose interest in the gests once we have abandoned them to their external fate. For us the making is all. For that is precisely when we rivet ourselves to Art’s Body, the Body endlessly constituted and re-constituted in making’s course, and set forth both over-there and right-here as a still real hope and possibility. The problem each time is how to maintain the goad in that state of readiness and intimate forcing that might just allow the next gest, as a new beginning, to get under way. > Yes, and because each of us sets up the Body according to the unique mesh between our desire to be with(in) Art’s Body and our all too real circumstances… > …your Really Trying Circumstances… > …just so, then Art’s Body in its distant entirety can only be an utterly plastic, labile, and finally unboundaryable amalgamation of all makers’ projections. Such a Body-Beyond-bodies could only be the inherently unstable and fragile stuff of legend. > It sounds as if it’s both there and not there. > Is it not the untouchable, but still necessarily readable, manifestation of the simultaneity of the Actual and the Virtual that you yourself proposed, though here the Virtual has nothing whatsoever to do with the digitising of everything? > Certainly, in order to get under way, making-for-Art needs to have a committed sense of what Art, if it is to be seen as desired destination for its making-trajectory, might ‘be’ as a gathering that, as you have suggested, lacks all identity! Making begins to appear as a forced choice that arises in response to a demanding call that it cannot refuse. > But arriving at this ‘point’ of no-refusal may be a long slow arduous process consisting of multiple detours, abandonings, returns, and the never-ending
interplay of doubt and conviction. In all this effort it is some form of reading that, by what it catches and gathers with the eye and body (gerere), searches out and makes just about legible making’s emergent trajectory. Reading as an activity names the core process through which this Body is slowly gathered, while undergoing never-ending modification right through to making’s end, its last gest. In this way all makers remain neophytes and apprentices, for the destination of their trajectories remains, in its fundamental mutability, necessarily unknowable. As an inveterate failure I could be nothing other than just such a minor apprentice. And no matter which of the arts become the opening, the voiding of everyday life, into which making leaps, it cannot even recognise the possibility of such an opening unless it has passed through an immensely complex gathering process – reading-as-legending – that assembles a possible desirable Body as destination. > So what you propose as this ‘reading’, setting up the Body, entails an active making felt-sense of Art through an endless choosing-rejecting process. My emergent vision of Art becomes a process of continuous selection that aligns the things that have moved me to distraction while continuing to confound all my sense-making activities. It is this residue of inexplicables that becomes the Body’s core. > Exactly. In this distracting movement you will return obsessively to the gests whose inexplicable strangeness has already withdrawn you from the commonsense of everyday life. Such gests begin to shape the armature around which you slowly read into becoming your distinctive assemblage of the Body. I’m glad you referred to this as a ‘selection’ process, because, in making-for-Art, the selecting does not follow some purposive rational choice-making scheme. Quite aside from conventional models of subjectivity, makers are as much chosen by the things as choosers of them. Selection for Art, under the weight and force of vague but very real feelings of affinity, attachment and obsessively compulsive fascination, confounds our conventions of choosing. And of course the word ‘selection’ draws us back under legend’s spell, for it is one of the ‘-lects’ that derive directly, like legend, from ‘legere’, and thus from reading. > So that, collecting, selecting, electing, neglecting, lecturing (with its lecternreliance…), are all tied together by and hover around a gathering-reading that assembles something like a ‘world’ for us? > Reading, as this corporeally forced selecting-gathering-aligning that, in its construction (caught up with all the body’s organs as a synaesthesic gathering of the body as an ensemble that is ‘all eyes’) of path-lines through any experienceable ‘terrain’, effects all our relating: it is how we make relations. It is how we attach ourselves to others and things. In this way we legend ourselves, emerging as legendary becomings for whom Art’s Body is one distant possibility. > And if one adds to all the ‘-lects’ the various prefixes that we find so useful in everyday life, like ‘re-‘ and ‘de-‘, then the field of ‘-lect’s’ reference… > …indeed of all relating… >…expands dizzyingly… > …way beyond the bounds of any dia-lectics! > So, achieving the void that I proposed as a possible response to your troubles with failure, may come up against the ceaseless passage through-and-away of all the matters that select one aside from any active willing…
> …just as your Interruptive Wandering has to reconcile itself to, take on, and find, ways of relating selectively, always selectively, to those never-ending little interruptions some of whose traces refuse to leave you alone… > …even here, then, in this seemingly empty ’scape, we’re both condemned to relating without end… > …to a legending some of whose collectable traces may just be gatherable in the name of Art… > … always provided they’ve moved us to distraction… > …and, withdrawing us from the moilings of everyday life, have interrupted… > …sorry to interrupt you, but that reminds me of the urgency that brought me to this receding zone. I need to get wandering blankly. Perhaps our pathless ways will cross again. > Perhaps. In the dark of our exchanges here I may delay my return to the city. For I’m now beginning to suspect that it is the Body I sent on ahead of and way beyond me over there, which is the most really trying thing in the world! > Could it be then that you have weighed down your making with your selfconstituted and disastrous legend of failure? Maybe, from here on, your sallying forth could try making-for-Art’s-Legendary-Body through unravelling and then casting off the thread of this legendary failure. You could start by getting up off that logue, and re-collecting… > …idiolecting… > …yourself elsewhere by putting one leg in front of… > …my other leg… END
legends 17 www.stephanieschneider.de Ann Sophie Back www. annsofieback.com Aris Geldis www.arisgeldis.eu Balenciaga www.balenciaga.com Celine www.celine.com Eley Kishimoto www.eleykishimoto.com Elliott J Frieze www.elliottjfrieze.com Fogal www.fogal.com Haider Ackermann www.haiderackermann.be Lanvin www.lanvin.com Lutz www.lutzparis.com Marios Schwab www.mariosschwab.com Matthew Miller www.matthew-miller.net Mawi www.mawi.co.uk Prada www.prada.com Rick Owens www.rickowens.eu Versace www.versace.com Yohji Yamamoto www.yohjiyamamoto.co.jp
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The Legend issue of Stimulus Respond, Spring 2011. Cover by Eley Kishimoto. Literature | Fashion | Art | Architecture | Music