Elderly artists, some of them sleeping

december 04, 2008.

[ podcast :: sbpc 25 ... s ]


As soon as we left the Zoo, it began to rain ...


Later that evening I went to the opening of the DiVA (Digital & Video Art) Fair, where a selection of some twenty international art galleries paid good money to each rent a room at the classy Hotel Kube, hidden in the passage Ruelle in the not-so-classy 18th arrondissement, profiting from the momentum created by the FIAC, to present and sell the works of their artists.
DiVA's setting - an entire floor of the hotel where the vernissage-invités are invited to roam from one room to the next and watch videos - is pretty entertaining. Unfortunately far more so than the art that was presented, which, with but few exceptions, though pricey, I found little remarkable.

What I did enjoy though, was the room occupied by Swiss gallery Widmer + Theodoridis Contemporary, where I was warmly welcomed by a charming Hannah Stegmayer, who, in the same breath, went on to tell me all about her and Toni's sleeping artists | collecting - fetish project, and why that work was so important. In the Kube Hotel their videos of aged (some of them meanwhile deceased) sleeping fluxus artists were playing on monitors placed alongside the hotel room's double bed, screens pointing upward, whence each one functioned like the top of a bedside cabinet.
That was neat. I'd be happy to have a nightlong video of an aged sleeping fluxus artist loop-screened as the top of my bedside cabinet ... I would sleep like an angel ... :-)

We had chinese at a Saveur de Shanghai.

Next morning I rolled on to Brussels for a duo performance of A Table! - a series of post-alter free style exercises dedicated to Daniel Spoerri, together with Jean-Jacques Duerinckx on sopranino sax - on the second day of this year's Sons Libérés festival.
The picture below shows our table as it was that evening on the stage of the petit théatre Mercelis, covered with a plastic nap and decorated with two plastic flowers that we got especially for the occasion, shortly before the performance, in a nearby shop.

a tbale brussels

Our Mercelis duo was great fun. It not only involved the singing of Chimène, a selection of other 'classical' dictaphone recordings, assorted pieces of metal and crackleboxes, but, not in the least to our own surprise, we even had to make short work of our fries on stage, as we were urged up there at the precise moment we had begun to eat ...

The communal theater that provided the festival's scene was a petit merveille, so it was doubly unfortunate that Inaudible, the organizing collective, signing and persisting in Brussels already for many a decade, had not succeeded in mobilizing the masses that their interesting bill would have deserved ... It was a great pleasure though to meet and share a stage with british improv veteran Terry Day, who, thin as a rice paper sheet and in a wobbly state of health, had come euro-starring over from England accompanied by his son, to perform a duet with swiss improviser Charlotte Hug.

Day 'n' Hug

Afterwards, sitting down for some late night food in a brasserie nearby, Terry told me about his pioneering 1960s and 1970s bands, like the People Band and Alterations (with Steve Beresford, Pete Cusack and David Toop) and other chapters from the history of improvised music that until then I had only been vaguely aware of.

While listening attentively, absentmindedly I ate all of Terry's salad, but he said he didn't mind.

It was unfortunate, really, that Terry and his son railed off back home already early on sunday morning, and therefore missed the great party next sunday at Marco Loprieno and Patrizia Lugo's amazing Brussels loft, 'hacked' out of a former cat fur factory (élévage de chats) ...

Charlotte Hug came, though, before catching a plane back to Switzerland. And also Camusi were there. For what I did not yet mention was the fine surprise of meeting up with Madame P. again. We had last met more than a year ago in may 2007, when, on tour with Rinus, Patricia was with us at the Project 101 and the Belleville Générale, both wonderful places that both no longer exist (!) ... After, Madame P. spent some time in Amsterdam. That however, as she told me, had not been such a great experience. But in Brussels she looked in great shape ... she had come over with her friend, the percussionist Stefano Gusti. Together the two of them are Camusi.

camusi 2 camusi

I remain-s-a-bit allergic to Madame P.'s abundant use of live-looped vocal samples and - especially - the so very 1980's reverberation and echoing, devilish little helper for singers fearing to face their vocals 'naked' ... Because of it Pat's singing makes me feel like I'm speeding down a wormhole, warping me back in time to some of the London and Amsterdam clubs that I frequented near to thirty years ago. That's a shame, as I actually prefer being here and now ... :-) ... Patricia has a fine voice that has no need for such effects. Without it I think she would substantially gain, both in presence and intensity ... More so as, with Camusi, she is stepping well beyond the confines of 1980's indie-pop ...
At the Petit Théatre Mercelis Patricia and Stefano did a colorful quartet with Marco Loprieno and Guy Strale of the Inaudible collective. That was good. But it was still better to see them as a duo the next day, in the more intimate setting of Marco's party, enjoying good wine and the fine art of Patrizia Lugo's culinary free improvisation.

I talked a lot, as one tends to do at parties. And as there were a great many musicians present, I talked a lot to musicians. One of them was an elegant elderly gentleman wearing an awesome necktie, which immediately caught my attention. His name was José Bedeur. I told José about our concert pour les babouins, which at the time lay but two days into the past, hence still was fresh in memory and experience.

José plays the cello and the double bass, with several formations, including the belgian band Métarythmes de l'Air, who, as José told me with a broad smile, fifteen years ago, in the very early morning of friday may 7th, 1993, performed in front of 4000 belgian cows...

Now you might think that José must've been pulling my leg here, but no, it's a matter of fact. To witness, José sent me a copy of the fifteen year old invitation and a clipping from the NZ Herald, dated may 14th, 1993.


"Four thousand Belgian cows have just witnessed what must have been one of the most original concerts in the history of rock promotion. At 5am, when most self-respecting musicians were stumbling onto bed, the Belgian band Metarythmes de l'Air took to the stage at a Belgian cow market to receive a series of resounding moos. [ ... ]
Frank Mankyboddle, the singer of the Australian/German band Sweets of Sin joined the Metarythmes to improvise some potentially milk-producing sounds, though the large number of hefty stud bulls probably had other things on their minute minds. [...]
The theatrical, face-contorting Mankyboddle was in good company with the eccentric French-speaking Belgians. [...] 'We are a country of surrealists,' says Metarythmes' Philippe Saurez, who plays the bass clarinet, which oddly complements the background mooing. [...]"

[ Helen Barrow - NZ Herald, may 14th, 1993 ]


Several times already in passing near the Brussels Gare du Midi I had noticed an enormous shining megaphone, calling out to me to come up to see it, and use it. That is precisely what Jean-Jacques and I did the next day, monday october 27th.
The Brussels 'gueulophone' is a public sculpture signed by the spanish-belgian artist Emilio Lopez-Menchero, installed in 2006. It is called 'Pasionaria', and stands there on that busy corner of the european capital as a 'porte-voix/spreekbuis' (megaphone) for free public speech, dedicated to all migrants.

Very good, symbolically as well as sonically, for the thing is an amazing amplifier of any sound made near to its mouth ... A perfect spot and tool to use in an outdoors performance. The sounds amplified through the gigantic megaphone fit in nicely with the nervous sounds of the traffic that is passing by continuously.

gueulophone gueulophone

A couple of recorded minutes of our public megaphonics on the corner of the avenue de Stalingrad in Brussels that monday october 27th, 2008, are s this SB entry's podcast, to listen to and/or download ...

The short text in german that you hear me reading is from a page of an instruction booklet for a hairdryer.
It was lying at the foot of Emilio Lopez-Menchero's sculpture.

[ Earlier related SB-entry: Monkey business, etc. ]

tags: Brussels, free improvisation, video art, A Table!

# .285.

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