february 10, 2009.
For his Beaux Rêves ('Sweet dreams') Paris based artist Michael Ghent (born in Auckland, New Zealand) inside La Comète 347, his squat/atelier in the very middle of the french capital, not far from the place de la République, built a little house, a shed really, out of cardboard boxes - the signature material of Michael's Street Level Industries. (See for example the short YouTube clips - here and there - that Rébus made of a performance of Street Level Industries' cardboard rock band, in the city hall of the 2ème arrondissement, early 2007.)
The little house comes with a small mobile garden, neatly arranged on a trolley.
The boxes must have been recovered from the streets of Paris, where they and their likes end up, day by day by day, on the pavements that run along the stores in which they were emptied from the divers merchandise they contained, the many, many goods for us to consume. I found it fascinating to read the texts and numbers that remain printed on the outside. ("Soleil / Paris" one of them says, see the little picture). Some of this continuously dumped cardboard is used for shelter by the horde of non-consuming homeless and deprived living in the streets of Paris. It makes for flexible no-budget building material, and as Michael's shed clearly shows, a little cardboard home might even, in a way, be attractive. But out in the streets it would not last for a very long time; even less so during winter in the northern hemisphere. Cardboard makes no home for a homeless, unless you build a such home inside something else ...
So Michael erected the ephemeral cardboard construct inside his studio space. Which by itself is sort of interesting, as La Comète 347 is a squat. The use of the space as a studio and alternative concert/theater-venue is merely tolerated, and it will not continue as such for a very long time. So it is in fact not much less ephemeral than is the cardboard home that it houses.
Now, of course a house is not a house, unless you can go in there. Here is how Michael's cardboard house looks from the inside (click to enlarge):
The large metal double bed frame is covered with a thick coat of white frost. It looks fragile in the blue/red lightning, like a room in a fairy-tale brothel where some Ice Queen soothes her johns. Inviting almost, until you get closer and stretch out your hands. For it is only then that one realizes that the white frost is real ice, and that the bed is really freezing.
The metal frame is part of a home made cooling system, something of an oversized fridge, the electro-mechanical parts of which one can find installed to the side of the cardboard bedroom. The sound made by the cooling machine is amplified. Its projection fills up the space ...
"Beaux Rêves" is a surprising installation, rough and poetic, convincing in its choice of materials and in its many layers of overlapping meaning (some of them maybe even contradictory). If you are in or near Paris you should absolutely go there and visit, which is possible until march 5th, on saturdays and sundays from 10h till 19h; otherwise on appointment ( * ).
If for some reason you're not able to make it there before march the 5th, then do attend one of the other regular events there that are open to the public. For as long as La Comète will continue be around ...
La Comète is a unique place. Originally home to a small metallurgical enterprise which specialized in the production of snail tongs, in the 1980s it became a sculptor's atelier. It had been standing empty for quite a while though, when Michael 'took' it a couple of years ago, after being evicted from the Sputnik 347 space in Montreuil which had to make way for newly to be constructed office space.
Since early 2007 Michael and La Comète have been hosting an impressive series of film-, theatre- and music-events, mainly originating in the independent and alternative circuits, and with no or little overlap with contemporary mainstream (commercial or government-aided) cultural productions. We have ourselves had the luck and the privilege to have found a roof in La Comète 347 for a whole range of our un-funded and so far rigorously a-commercial experiments in sound and music. Indeed, I would not know where-else in Paris I could have realized at such a ridiculously short notice an event like the Big Band improvisation, that we did as the first part of Diktat's three day "Paris Trilogy", on july 13th, 14th and 15th of last year: on the 15th we did an unplugged quartet performance at the now defunct La Veilleuse in the rue des Envierges in Belleville; on the 14th, few hours before the Michael Waisvisz tribute at Radio Aligre, we provided the coda for 2008's parisian 72 hours placard at La Nouvelle Générale in Sèvres, as a septet (with Jean-Jacques Duerinckx (s), Elena Dunkelman (voc) and Yoko Miura on toy-piano. And the day before, on the evening of sunday july 13th there were even three more, when another trio - Pascal Marzan (g), Anthony Carcone (g) and Frantz Loriot (v) - joined us in a 10-piece performing "Sturm der Liebe" at La Comète...
If you read the previous post and some of the other entries dealing with my stay in Berlin during the first week of july 2008, the words Sturm der Liebe probably will ring a bell. It indeed is the German soap that Rinus had been raving about and that he was watching every day at around three in the afternoon on television. A week in Berlin was long enough to convince me that Sturm der Liebe would be unavoidable as the theme of the 'Diktat Big Band' performance that we shortly before had planned for the 13th. It moreover immediately clarified what we would use as visuals to project on the occasion of that festive event: Sturm der Liebe it was, and Sturm der Liebe it would be ...
As soon as I got back from Berlin I began looking for Sturm der Liebe-clips. These were not very hard to find. There appeared to be quite a few SdL-fans that for some reason or other enjoyed uploading episodes of the series to YouTube, mostly hacked up into a number of parts. Most of that footage appeared to have been recorded directly from German television, in some cases even simply with a camera put in front of the screen. The quality of the images in general was deplorable, but for me that only added to their evocative strength ...
I made a selection, downloaded the lot and used these in a 50 minute Sturm der Liebe-videomontage, cutting and pasting the bits and pieces 'stolen' from YouTube together, and applying here and there some effects like repeating, reversing, slowing down or speeding up. Without much thought nor consideration, really. The bulk of the material I used stemmed from two episodes of the series. In the first one, the action leads up to a moment, as hilarious as it is dramatic, where two women hang more or less next to one another from the same cliff, each with a man groping for them ...
In the second thread, Sturm der Liebe´s Evil Queen (I think her name is Barbara) injects a poison into a chocolate heart, meant to kill someone against whom she held a grudge. The candy heart though sadly is devoured by the wrong guy ... Barbara finds out, and this leads to a nerve-racking race against the clock, when she goes hunting for the antidote and tries - in vain !- to get that into her victim's body in time ...
However fast I went about splicing all of these bits and pieces of soap together, it nevertheless did take time, and I actually finished the montage mere hours before that sunday's performance.
For "Sturm der Liebe" we - formally - split up the ten piece in 4 groups. There were three trio's, that were installed in a semicircle. Had you been there, facing the musicians you would have seen (from left to right): [first trio] Rinus van Alebeek, Pascal Marzan and Yoko Miura ; [second trio] Jean-Jacques Duerinckx, Rébus and Anthony Carcone ; [third trio] Elena Dunkelman, Har$ and Frantz Loriot. Jean Bordé and his double bass were the 'fourth man'. He sat above us, on the 'balcony'. Each player was instructed to focus his or her play foremost on that of the trio to which (s)he belonged, as well as on that of the bass-player, so that - in a way - we would play as if the 'big band' was actually a 'compound quartet' ...
You see the sort of dreams that one may dream à La Comète?
We projected the 50 minutes Sturm der Liebe montage on the wall opposite the band, so that we could play while looking at the video projection. Those among the musicians that saw so fit might - all the time or just occasionally - take 'cues' from the projection, and use the images as a 'visual score' ...
As you will probably realize: there was no preparation whatsoever, and we did not get a second chance. The Diktat Big Band performed
'Sturm der Liebe' once, and only once.
But of course I added the recording of the Diktat Big Band performance afterwards as a soundtrack to the 'SdL' video montage.
I recently for the first time since last july watched it again. In the 50+ minutes that it took to sit
through it all, there were a whole lot of adjectives
that sprang to mind. I found it quirky, cheesy, abstract, absurd, concrete, brilliant, stupid, silly ... and much more.
I guess you may love it, or you may hate it; and maybe even both. But it is surely not like much else that you ever saw/heard before.
It goes without saying that we used all of this footage as 'found', without permission.
As you can imagine the hassle it would be to get permission to use the visual material (and then moreover in the way we used it), it is unlikely that Diktat's "Sturm der Liebe" DVD will ever get some sort of an 'official release'. It will make a perfect bootleg though, and it is as such that you will be able to acquire it, in all of its resplendent illegality ... :-) ... The first ten copies are reserved for the musicians, all others will be part of a copy-by-copy produced, hand-packaged and numbered series, starting with nr. 11 ...
Get your copy of Diktat's Sturm der Liebe-DVD delivered directly to your home, using the PayPal button above. Or buy your copy at one of the upcoming Diktat events, for example this one ... :
FRIDAY 13th : Le Grand Cirque :: On friday
march 13th, at La Comète 347 in Paris, we
will present the first ever SIMULTANEOUS
EAI concert, curated by Jean Bordé. That
evening in three different corners of La Comète three different
Brocante Sonore [Belgium/France], DIKTAT
[Paris/Berlin], and Nozal
Cube [France]) will perform simultaneously ... at the same time ...
Be there at 20h30 ! ...
notes __ ::
(*) La Comète 347 - 45 rue du Faubourg du Temple, Paris X. (M° République or Goncourt). Tél.: 01 42 41 89 32 . [ ^ ]
tags: Paris, La Comète 347, Streetlevel Industries, Diktat, Sturm der Liebe
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