Conflict Resolution/the Brooklyn Experimental Song Carnival

If you don’t want to hear about my personal life, scroll to the second half of this post.  Here, you’ll find the lineup for the final night of the Brooklyn Experimental Song Carnival (6/18/16) alongside reflections pertaining to the Carnival as a totality.

Personal Life:

A confusing and mildly upsetting situation briefly broke the surface of this thing I choose to call Reality/what I choose to rely upon on a daily basis.  To abbreviate: this situation has endured for a while and is mostly a result of my ongoing struggle with ED and Addiction.  This is also an example of what can happen when someone attempts to “control” an addict.  Additionally, this testifies to the danger of committing oneself to the task of engineering a fixed & isolated reality that orbits another human being.  Call it codependency.  Misguided desire.  Hopeful foolishness.   In any case, it did not turn out great, and kinda enhanced the paranoia I’ve surmised concerning intimacy in general.

I have a friend who radiates admirable qualities that I sincerely relate to, and so I told him about it.  I attempted to be factual despite The Great Delusion.  I tried to extend my narrative across the two-sided territory.  Afterwards, this person said: “of course you lied about your addiction.  We all do.  It’s really embarrassing.”  This statement resonated with me.

There are the obviously embarrassing consequences of addiction: the terminal perplexity of feeling “out of control.”  The persistent anticipation of problematic responses to The Habit from the people you actually give a fuck about.  The ever-subsequent conviction of being shunned.  The generalized fear over abhorrent behavior that disturbs, over and over and over again.  However, embarrassment adopts many forms and can propel sets of less obvious behavioral patterns, behaviors that yield unexpected results.  You suddenly notice unusual ticks and act in odd ways, a coda to recognition.  You are overwhelmed by the aura of trying, again and again and never stopping.  You gradually learn how to live, but your impressions are not akin to learning a sport or excelling as a masseuse.  It’s a phenomenon that only addicts really understand, a nihilistic elephant in your room qua head.  In your ceaseless struggle for a meaning (that is largely irrelevant to most people), you form unique perspectives and connections to your physical and psychiatric climate.  You come to trust a new logic, one that considers desperation as a force more integral than gravity.  In turning over embarrassment, you discover toxicity in people and places that surprise you.  You form a new breed of bond to the human beings considered necessary to your living cycle.

On the other hand, you seek ways to obscure the embarrassment (on shitty days) and channel it (when you’re more cognizant).  In my experience, these reactions are muscles that operate as an incessant need to create and erect, sometimes tactically, other times therapeutically.  I aspire to conjure space to reach the closest resemblance to an “ideal state.”  On the other hand, I’ve also found a strategy in which to hide, obscure, and factor dependency in/out. Exhilaration and Terror.  A daily plague that’s really fucking awesome (on busy days).  Clearly, creation births a structure that is simultaneously generative and chaotic.

I think the point I’m trying to make is that the process of letting go is embarrassing, probably more so than any of us realize.  The act of moving on/beyond carries great dissonance, but in a truly bizarre way, effectively negating the potential for experiencing dissonance, which is to say: there’s a special kind of psychological lapse that occurs when we think we know what we’re doing.  When we decide to “move on” we mistakenly grasp the impression that we are in absolute control.  We confidently cultivate new interests, acquire new colleagues, throw ourselves entirely into the idea of who we are and want to be.  All the while, we are oblivious to the new set of consequences that emerge from our renovated behavior.  Invariably, we will stumble upon reminders of the past (or have them regurgitated in our face), and we’re unprepared to confront these new consequences.  We summarize their impact in a dangerous way, convincing ourselves that they’re inconsequential and innocuous.  We sublimate, and before our awareness catches us we’re back to chasing refuge in the habits we know, and fear, will satisfy the sheer incomprehensibility of Living.  Familiar embarrassment/habituated consequences.  The incomprehensibility grows when, in a single gesture, we believe we are moving past the pain and activate the articles that numb it.  This is neither good nor bad.  For the most part fuck morality. The hope (I hope) is that we have the option of becoming aware of new consequences and developing peace in the old ones.

This is probably sufficient for now.  Too many ideas, not enough action.

And so we endlessly cope.  As always, I’m overwhelmingly and strictly grateful to those who’ve stuck by me and continue to listen and expand their wisdom next to my head.

Several artists I admire have been furiously making work that contemplates and resurrects embarrassment.  Shawn Escarciga confronts the latent trauma of the mirror and truly reckons with himself.  In the grandest sense, Esther Neff & Brian McCorkle dissect embarrassment with their opera-in-process, Embarrassed of the Whole.  Incidentally, both Brian and Esther performed at the Song Carnival.

Here, we segue.

The Brooklyn Experimental Song Carnival at JACK
June 16-18th, 2016:

Esther Neff wore Death on the back of her head, a startling paean to the body and a mesmerizing display of bare vocals, electronics, and loops (with an emphasis on loops).  Audrey Harrer baffled the crowd with a precise collection of unheard and manipulated voices in the harp, singing lullabies as rapturous as they were ephemeral.  Irrevery shockingly blended Country idioms with The Grotesque, demanding experimentation.  Borts Minorts (in the words of my old friend, Natti Vogel) should be the Minister of Entertainment in Japan.  In a roundabout way, he makes me believe in God.  Alex Cohen and I continued to try to Define Solitary Confinement.  Brian McCorkle absconded with 88-note impulses, using his voracious tamber to analyze politics and press buttons, massively.  Caitlin Baucom roped a zombie hand around her wrist and debuted an opera.  She incriminated German public figures from the late 18th century.  Something about her performance recalled a seizure.  Clapperclaw presented one of the most crystallized performances I’ve ever witnessed, successfully legitimizing Zen in it’s more colloquial sense.  She made everything OK.  Her voice is fucking ridiculous.  Mercury Uncovered unveiled what was probably the riskiest performance of the festival.  The musical and visual components suggested that they maybe shouldn’t go together, and this was fascinating, you kept questioning, wondering.  If I was a crappy publicist I’d call it Punk meets Film Noir. They were introduced by NØthing, who literally growled into a suitcase of electronics and who was, in proper DIY style, added to the bill last-minute-upon-entry.

And finally, here’s what’s happening tonight (if you are reading this post 6/18/16 you missed it, sorry):

8:00 – Jonathan Wood Vincent – https://jonathanwoodvincent.bandcamp.com/
8:45 – Okapi – https://okapiband.bandcamp.com/
9:30 – Public Speakinghttps://publicspeaking.bandcamp.com/
10:15 – Valerie Kuehne – http://www.valeriekuehne.com/

 

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on living and working as an artist in brooklyn circa 2015 (and how i ended up back here)

If you are living and working as an artist in brooklyn chances are you’re wondering how to pay rent.  you are prey to difficult living conditions.  you take on strange jobs to carry you through.  on top of this you are prone to the debacle faced by every New Yorker:  you must find a way of transcending the stress and struggle of millions of bodies living in close proximity to each other.  the greatest gift that New York offers is perhaps the experience of narrowly escaping the resentment of and towards every human being on the planet.  

The question for me has never been “what is art” but “why continue on as an artist”.  once performing and curating within an artistic community became a necessary part of my life I embarked on what would become a 5 year battle with the intangibility of art.  i often pondered the possibility that art does not actually help anyone other than the artist herself and the artist is running away from herself.  this possibility was further complicated by rampant stereotyping of artists living in brooklyn:  we are the hipster plague, the gentrifying virus.  we are leeches, contributing nothing to society at large.  we are running not only from our own demons but demons implanted by public perception.  

i wanted to find a benevolent force within the artistic practice itself and thus the question of whether or not i was actually helping anyone other than myself plagued me.  ultimately it sculpted me into the performer and curator i have become, but not before a lot of shit went down.  

the struggle was real:  how could a woman with a cello, alternately singing and screaming about American Cheese and inevitably going ballistic on stage provide anything greater than shock value and a momentary means of escape for anyone within range of her glasses flying off her face?  this lumbering fear of living an entirely selfish life began to take a serious toll on me.  I became impulsive.  I considered switching careers.  I’d go to med school or maybe mortuary school.  when this didn’t pan out i simply surrendered to the work itself.  i’d do everything humanly possible for the artistic community in brooklyn.  I’d run multiple performance spaces at once.  I’d book shows every night.  I’d join and direct organizations, curate festivals, raise money and sacrifice everything.  if i wrote myself out of existence, by default, i’d have to be helping others and impacting reality. gradually this state of what is basically just rote workaholism became less about the work and more about the sacrifice.  the destruction crept up on me.  i’d forgo sleep, food, stable housing and regular showers.  i didn’t want friends and forget about love.  the struggle grew apathetic.  without realizing this to be the case, i no longer cared what happened to me. the end of my 20s found me suicidal, addicted to drugs, fleeing brooklyn and joining a cult.  

the only real possibility for change in life is in deciding whether or not to give up what one truly loves.  i had reached this very point.  i probably didn’t handle this well, hence the cult.  i grew more suicidal.  i fell into what would be an 8 month long depersonalized episode.

as catastrophic as this sounds i can assure you that such experiments in self destruction and the resulting absurdities are not at all uncommon within the community of artists with whom i am acquainted in brooklyn and around the world.  i was not the only one violently struggling to align life with art.  this knowledge was a direct result of the following:

first of all i got help.  i accepted i was fucked.  i went to rehab and with great caution, moved back to brooklyn.  i was open about what i’d experienced.  i wrote about it, i performed about it.  i wanted to be a cautionary tale for the community because i see many struggles that mimic my own.  slowly, i came to believe that this very practice, of exposing, of personally confronting trauma on stage was immensely valuable.  i realized that for most of my life art had actually been a form of therapy.  this was a therapy that i could share.  it would help me directly connect with audiences and honestly collaborate with the artists i love.  if i believed that performing and curating had helped me stay alive (and i did, and do) then why not openly state this as a call for action in my performances and events?  the struggle had never actually been with the artistic practice itself.  the confusion had been a result of the way i’d framed the work.

this is the crux of the call:  there are very clear and painful events and habits that compel us to make art in the first place.  if art is to remain a viable force in our own lives and within our communities we must first acknowledge why making it is of such great importance.  the same goes for any action and behavior as experienced by every human being on the planet.  this begins with accepting and crafting our own struggle.  this continues as a disclosure to others, our collaborations deepen the deeper we open.  this reaches full potential as a plea to audiences and to the world, that therapy does not exist within a closed room or vacuum.  it may be practiced every day, with everyone.  honesty and self-exposure are an art unto themselves.  in a city like brooklyn this is, i believe, an absolutely vital practice.  the alternatives are devastating.

the world and it’s media celebrates art that is repetitive, mimetic. americans are mostly exposed to art that is, by and large, masked.  art is codified in false identities, alter egos. social media provides layers of detachment.  our “selves” are fed through machines, every minute of every day.  my experience has taught me that art that is personal, that defaces the mask and restores the artist to the art, is radical.  we have, at our fingertips, the greatest gift we can give to each other and to the world: we create art to fight for our lives.  

as i continue to practice this philosophy my collaborations have grown into profound friendships.  i have finally found the glue that keeps my existence coherent and my artistic practice intact.  i have discovered the usefulness that i so desperately sought.  i now run a series called trauma salon.  it is a platform for artists to congregate and directly confront traumatic experiences through their art.  not only has this proved an incredibly therapeutic process and enabled new collaborations to form, the series has produced some of the most powerful and cathartic work i have ever witnessed.  the participants need not be artists in the traditional sense.  the performers need not rely on their specific craft in order to communicate their experience.  a violinist friend of mine read journal entries from her suicide attempt.  a percussionist played a voicemail left by his daughter when his father died.  on another end of the spectrum there have been food fights and large groups of performance artists running around a room shouting obscenities in each other in a properly it’d-be-funny-if-it-wasn’t-tragic vein, there was also a performance that involved catnip and actual cats.  what i find to be the most exciting and activating part of these events is that the participants and audiences face the idea that therapy can be framed as art, not only in a practical way but as an effective and even efficient means of processing pain.  i have no monopoly on the idea that art heals.  i am not the first person to discover that art may be crafted to teach us our own limitations.  i simply try to live in a way that ensures its effectiveness and by example, encourage others to do the same.  

our greatest asset is our adaptability.  the economy crashes.  mass hysteria abounds. there’s a heroin epidemic and everybody’s bipolar.  we may run out of food and there is no one way of fixing the world.  the artistic community may one day be in a unique position to teach the world how to heal through the personal confrontation of creation.  we may teach the world to connect to itself when psychiatry grows too costly and religion non-existent. as artists amidst artists, we have access to the most sustainable and possibly oldest therapy in the world:  making art that makes us feel, quite simply, better.  

(as utopian as this sounds it isn’t such a bad thing to keep living for, imho).    

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THE BROOKLYN EXPERIMENTAL SONG CARNIVAL

Naked Roots Conducive & The Super Coda are THRILLED to present the first annual Brooklyn Experimental Song Carnival.

We will no longer force experience from experiment. We will create a context in which song once again births ritual. We will perform in protest of prescription bullshit and radio decay. We’ll attempt to witness song writing and sung performance from as many different angles as possible: from inception to decay, from influx to arborescence, from the entertaining to the funereal. We will dance between the lines of song and narrative, explosively

Our hope is to build a strong platform that enables us to make this carnival a bi-yearly occurrence.

Naked Roots Conducive will close each night with a performance.

We will all of us connect and continue connecting until artistic transfusion is possible, body and soul.

LINE UP:

9/22 @ JACK – http://www.jackny.org/
Emile Lesbros – http://www.emilielesbros.com/
Lipchitz – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ5W6T4AHF0
Laurie Amat – https://soundcloud.com/amatworks
Jonathan Wood Vincent – https://jonathanwoodvincent.bandcamp.com/

9/25 @ Torus Porta – http://wildtorus.tumblr.com/TORUSPORTA
M. Lamar – http://www.mlamar.com/
H. Honne Wells – https://vimeo.com/14903750
Timeghost – https://www.facebook.com/timeghostelectronics

9/30 @ Bushwick Community Darkroom – http://www.bushwickcommunitydarkroom.com/
April Fish – http://www.aprilfish.co.nz/
Jaggery – http://www.jaggery.org/
Frogbelly and Symphony – http://www.frogbellyandsymphony.com/

10/3 @ Panoply Performance Laboratory – http://www.panoplylab.org/space
Grex – http://www.grexsounds.com/
India Czajkowska – http://www.indiaczajkowska.com/
PPL – http://www.panoplylab.org/

10/7 @ Hell Phone – http://www.hellphonebrooklyn.com/
Jeff Young – http://www.jeffrey-young.com/
Anais Maviel – http://www.anaismaviel.com/
Ellen O – http://www.goldbolus.com/sparrows.html

We have launched a GoFund me campaign to help cover costs for traveling artists (of which there are quite a few). Please help if you are able to!

http://www.gofundme.com/9hxxnp5f

All shows begin at 8 with the exception of 9/30 at the Buschwick Community Darkroom, which will begin at 9pm.
$5-15 at the door.

i live to speak to/for Presence. i believe that the artists that i find qualify as experimental songwriters (or song-improvisors) are, as a group, totally present in their creative and performative processes. i can, with some confidence, say that the act of being present is the most experimental act of all.

to read more and check for updates : https://thesupercoda.com/2015/08/19/the-enigmatic-success-of-experimental-song/

www.nakedrootsconducive.com
www.nakedrootsconducive.bandcamp.com/album/sacred521
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1MUzmApOas

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The Enigmatic Success of Experimental Song

i am fairly certain that songs do not convey the information we think they do.  for example, i was well into my 20’s by the time i actually started listening to lyrics (listening and memorizing share few genes.  if my mother’s memory serves her correctly i had all of Born in the USA memorized at age 3).  even once i started “listening” to lyrics i wasn’t aware of the spectrum fused within.  necessity, social relevance, femininity, violence – the very factors determining a media-flow or lack thereof – were all more or less umbrella-d under this larger denotation of Singing About Shit.  if i hadn’t started writing songs of my own i may never have sunk into this vaster, befuddling subtext that translates to gravity/disembodiment where sound and speech collide.  there is always sensation beyond the sensation, it needn’t even be invoked.

songs show us this.  if they don’t, they suck.  if you think you know exactly what someone is singing about (or if you think that the surface material is brought to you by catharsis) then you have not woken up yet.  songs teach us that there is more to simplicity than we’ll ever be able to articulate; we don’t know why we like something in the same way that we don’t know why someone likes us (or not).  songs = mindfuck.

the bigger point being that songs are dangerous.  they may be used against us and they are. constantly.  they tell us that they’re singing about the cars on our screens, the insurance we wish we had (on a much bigger scale then we’ve ever conceptualized).  they tell us it’s ok to be embarrassed, or not.  they tell us that we’re part of something bigger but not too big; what we consume is big enough.  they tell us that anyone looking for a deeper source is better off rummaging a landfill or toilet.

granted, i take music and performance personally.  i don’t expect most people to share my experience/opinion but a ruse is a ruse.  we are easily tricked into confusing habit with spontaneity.

It’s amazing how much of the above becomes clear once you begin to listen for experimentation (rapid change over time) within song structure.  there’s a shock and you’re devoured.  you don’t know what to expect anymore.  learn to grow in this space and you’ll learn to deal with all that isn’t said in front of you.

life itself lives where comfort and discomfort blend.

for me, experimental song is not easily relegated into this incongruous territory of prepared cowbells and atonal grace notes.  often, what seems accessible in recordings turns out to be anything but while witnessed live.  i don’t find separating music and performance to be particularly helpful.  there is too much room for error.  i enjoy both listening to and making records but the product exists outside my direct field of interest.  it is harder to be fooled by live performance; there’s gimmickry at play if the show feels gimmicky and you’re never going to find a shitty performance whilst scavenging for old pot in a relative’s basement.  i live to speak to/for Presence.  i believe that the artists that i find qualify as experimental songwriters (or song-improvisors) are, as a group, totally present in their creative and performative processes.  i can, with some confidence, say that the act of being present is the most experimental act of all.

this is how i feel, anyway.  so i’m organizing a carnival.

check HERE and back (here) for updates.

and while the following goes against most of what i wrote in the last paragraph, checking out some of the participating artists might be worth your time.  so enjoy:

https://jonathanwoodvincent.bandcamp.com/

http://www.mlamar.com/

https://soundcloud.com/amatworks

http://www.emilielesbros.com/

http://www.jaggery.org/

http://www.panoplylab.org

there are and will be many others, rest assured and for the record, this is one of the things i do because my life depends upon it.  i mean, just so you know i know what i’m talking about & shit.

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THANK YOU

We eat bread with (a) sour cream (-like substance).  We eat bread with chocolate frosting. We eat bread with fig, rhubarb, cherry jam and marmalade.  We eat brown bread, rye, seedless rye, pita, baguettes, stale bread, soft rolls, hard rolls, very stale bread, pide, crackers.  We eat tuna pizza, perplexing pizza, leftover pizza, pizza mixed up in a situation involving applesauce, marshmallows, peanut-flavored corn snacks, pickles, herring filets w/paprika & questionable cake.  We eat bread with cheese:  sliced cheese, soft cheese, fried cheese, cheese spread, cheese w/ herbs, expired cheese, ripe cheese, pasta cheese, swiss, edam, norsk, parmigiano, gouda, emmentaler, butterkase, haloumi, feta.  We eat noodles. We eat fish w/ pickles & onions on bread.  We eat bread with yogurt, falafel, spinach, garlic, tahini, hummus, cabbage, sauerkraut, cucumber, tomato, relish, sun-dried tomato, eggs, tuna, mustard, arugula, butter, nutella & tomato paste.  We eat bread crumbs.  We eat croissants filled with marzipan, nutella, chocolate, poppy seeds, spinach, cheese, apple, pudding.  We eat doughnuts.  We eat cookies filled chocolate, marzipan, nutella, caramelized nuts.  We eat shortbread.  We eat macaroons.  We eat these things called Rollos which consist of marshmallow sandwiched between two very stale tasting cookies dipped in relatively flavorless chocolate.  We eat simit.  We dip bread in lentil soup, spargel soup, onion soup, curry.  We eat cheesecake, black cherry cake, strawberry cake, peach cake, chocolate silk cake.  We eat scones.  We eat brownies.  I eat a tiny sandwich for 1euro.  I eat a waffle dipped in chocolate and sugar crystals.  I eat an airplane muffin. There are packaged chocolate chip cookies but I do not take one.  There are cupcakes, muffins, cookies filled with nougat, pound cake, carrot cake, tarts that I don’t buy.  We purchase a bag of wafers for our host that I manage not to open before leaving.  I eat a really shitty cookie at London Gatwick that costs about $4.25 with the exchange rate.  We eat crackers that taste like edible floor.  I start to panic that I’m gaining weight.  The bigger I grow the more my life shrinks and it’s fucking dumb but distraction is paramount.  I say oh god no more pastries fuck fuck and so i eat chocolate; filled with nougat, cookies & cream, lemon buttercream, caramel wafers, hazelnut cookies, cornflakes.  I am not sure if this is a “problem” I’m “ready” to “acknowledge”.  I crave fish.  I crave adrenaline.

As you age, the ethics of (in)dependence become increasingly problematic.  Lacking presence, it is best not to think of any given person, place, or thing at all, lest you fall into a well.  To write as you witness, to factualize and extend a series of beliefs to the point at which nothing actually happened at all, this is what drives you to the terror of documentation.  I know in a flesh-esque way that I’ve nothing left to lose.  Be that as it may, I sit in Schonfeld paralyzed by the image of my suitcase bursting en route to JFK like a groundhog in a microwave.  I recall sugar like a customer service representative.

Esther Neff speaks of concrete strategies and in such a way you simply stop romanticizing. You look beyond the lover who consumed your logic, that tour you went on when you GOT BY and MORE, you raged and everything was FINE/OK.  The thrift stores, erotica, weight loss, drugs.  The performance space that haunted your dreams twice a week.  The subbasement of a subbasement of a subbasement.  Baltimore.  Pittsburgh.  Berlin.

Panoply Lab buys a hen and attempts to perform with it.  Rae Goodwin takes pulses, she documents linguistic impulses.  Lorene Bouboushian chews euros; she performs trauma/makes me cry.  Kaia Gilje seduces a bike.  Adrian Shephard likes the X-files as much as I do.  I bust open a celery root at Loophole Gallery and fuck up my knee for the remainder of the trip.  Edward Sharp has been trapped inside a garbage bag for at least 4 minutes.  Once you’ve entered Norma you can’t leave.  Hui-Chun Lin has an 8 month old child.  He is dynamic and curious and full of love; we improvise with him.  Frauke Heidenreich fills empty bottles with shredded paper.  Joel Verwimp interviews; we take a pass at Wisdom in all of it’s exonerating Glory.  Ali Dolanbay and Johanna Gilje walk into a pole.  A large group of performance artists engage in a philosophical discussion whilst blindfolded.  Lin & Shuichi Chino improvise, cello & piano.  They build and obstruct playgrounds with Debussyan effortlessness, and in such a way overture and recess collide. German Neologisms.  Klaus Kuvers is there.  There are english-speaking meetings.  I chat with Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt.  Dana Freund bakes cheesecake it’s extraordinary. Lan Hungh curates a night of female/male pairs which tends towards voyeurism.  You cannot veil the nature of your coupling; sex will always be bondage.  Wild Torus expounds this catchall by publicly fucking + canola oil.  I want to converse with Joern Burmeister but maybe I’m intimidated fuck knows.  Apple Cider Vinegar is Cheap.  Esther Neff cuts hair. Brian McCorkle determines the resonant frequency of rooms.  Birgit Hanson has a cosmically comforting presence.  9 times out of 10 they want to eat our cake.  Franz Rodek starts a fire.  We wait to perform.  We perform at La Bettolab.  Anya Liftig is extremely patient with the chair.  Kaia and Lorene disappear, it’s raining.  The ponies are filthy, we wash them.  Natalia Steinbach opts out.  Natalia Steinbach makes business cards.  Natalia Steinbach saves my life on a regular basis.  Florian Feigl describes a particular German director’s dramaturgical methodology.  There is an atypical unity to be found in jars of Nutella.  Shasta Ellenbogen is a great violist.  Martha Cargo tells her friend about our performance.  Miriam Siebenstadt invites us to improvise with her trio comprised of sax/guitar, vocals, sewing machine.  Robert Phillips comes to our show at Altes Finanzamt.  Margaret Dragu is present.  I really, really, really, really, really hate balloons. There are eight or nine air mattresses.  We make an audience member cry by accident.  Lo Bil truly understands the symbology of ARM.  Rose Bouboushian helps me out, she paints her nails.  Teena Lange sets an alarm to not say anything.  Teena Lange curates performance art qua dialogical imperative.  Teena Lange is beautiful.  Bread, fish.  It’s late. Hi Tom.  I miss my cat.  I can’t stop walking.  Schwarzfahren.  Bradlees.  Probably my suitcase will erupt; also I may have fucked shit up for every american musician attempting to fly out of Tegel Airport.  Something feels strange, like buzzing.  Mrs. Doubtfire.  The gentleman next to me smells like a pit of rotting crickets.  You just keep moving, you stomach the exhaustion.  Hi Danielle.  Gauloise Rot.  I love my parents.  The novelty of living is more than it’s cut out to be.  I don’t want to hate him but I do.  I read it when she isn’t looking.  The coffee isn’t working.  Natasha’s cat is scared of Facetime.  I run into Lizzy McDaniel on the street.  God.  I am no longer in Berlin.

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subsequent examinations of post-berlin performing, or: becoming the conscious desire to understand autoerotica, or: why philosophy scares me.

(Disclaimer:  I “used to be” a nihilist, in both the Nietzschean and Big Lebowski-an sense.  Live to embrace exposure, in whatever form it takes.  Also, please do not try this at home.)

We hear what we want to hear.  This is because we go through life listening for the answer to ourselves.  Sometimes I wake up in the morning and read philosophy.  Over time this reading has taken on a certain indulgence.  Kinda like you get out of bed and dunk your face in ice cream before proceeding to wash it.  Nothing like a mix of delicacy and disgust to enhance the senses for the first time.

For many years I lived in order to hear somebody say, “you’re a fucking mess” and so I kept reading philosophy.  Eventually I took a break from philosophy and the message came.  The answer is almost always a response to a response.  (In certain circles they call this echo “healing” but whatever).

Now I sometimes read philosophy but no longer for the answers.  The present reading more suggests embarking upon this gleefully tragic bath.  From whence you emerge the world is subtly brighter.  The act of questioning resumes suddenly heightened, at a slightly more delightful clip.  This activity, however, demands moderation.  Philosophy, says Yeats, will clip an angel’s wings.

So, one day I’m reading this Philosophical Text and Philosopher Guy proposes that, because claiming The Good as the source of human thought is preposterous (and has been for centuries), the last, great classically philosophical project will be to investigate why human beings are inclined to compulsively choose the pursuit of nihilism.  This project will not be undertaken from afar; as a collection of data, set of questions, hypothetical observations.  This project must be lived, it must be performed: to be a living, breathing answer while maintaining one’s intention to discover and philosophically assimilate. Practically speaking, one must walk a path that grows atop nihilistic compulsion; she/he is absolutely committed to learning the way, despite the obvious danger of the path ending in a lake or over a cliff.  If one isn’t killed or driven mad by the process, it’s likely assumed that one may constructively build (something) upon the lower echelons of biological rapture, and/or grow aware of decay as a sixth or seventh sense.  Darkness, despite our best attempts at negation, does have bounds.

Whatever the case may be, Philosopher Guy says that if one truly believes that nihilism reveals a truth above and beyond psychological deviation, one MUST perform this project. There is no other avenue for metaphysical (and possibly societal) growth.  The non-existent cry is simply too heavy to ignore.

In plain text, Philosopher Guy is basically proposing the following:  will we ever understand exactly WHY we keep fucking ourselves over (and over again)?!

I am a shamelessly grandiose being and so I am going to act upon the assumption that yes, this investigation is possible and does result in growing.  I am going to assume that you want to hear what I have to say and thusly that you’ll come to believe you’re growing because I said it and you want to trust me.  As it turns out, I HAVE learned a thing or two about compulsively pursuing nihilistic revelation.  My process was not unlike the aforementioned proposal, at least I figured as much & felt like I was performing such an undertaking for a plethora of people (meaning maybe 2,000 tops over the course of 9 years); so I’ll wager to explain how this performance works and why it really, really doesn’t.

It gets you kicked off airplanes.  It finds you coming out of blackouts wandering barefoot through the streets.  It results in needing to apply for a lot of new passports.  It accidentally cuts your thumb in half.  One minute it gracefully shields you all divine-and-incognito-like, the next you’re a statistical example of alcohol withdrawal on international flights.  Also you keep dating men with BPD.

I’d like to wholeheartedly believe that the way to make sense of this rubble is to practice better hygiene, eat more vegetables, exercise regularly, meditate, find a qualified therapist, quit the booze and drugs and read a lot of Alan Watts – and there is, herein, a reliable solution, if you’re ready to accept/embrace it.

The caveat:  None of these activities, or all the healthy living in the world, cancels out one’s desire (nay, need) to reveal nihilistic urgency.  The pulsation is, for lack of a better term, essential.  If anything, a return to “health” results in a progressively finer clarity, an increasingly intuitive comprehending of one’s destructively compulsive nature and the subsequent affirmation of nothingness qua truth therein.  There is no overcoming this pursuit, we just get glasses and face it daily, a little braver & more attentive.  The beautiful, and at times frustrating, mystery is that we grow to desire this clarity, we live for a more spectacular and specific consciousness of/in it.  Over time, we realize that while we can’t expose nihilism, we have learned how to live in it’s brilliant suspension.  Our nature, in a sense, pauses, smack dab in the nihilistic center, and eventually this pause becomes our waking life; the destruction revealed from afar in overwhelming detail; we no longer question it, we no longer need to because in stepping back from it, we observe it and are finally satiated.

If there is wisdom to be uncovered here, it is perhaps that human thought begins with a need to deconstruct destruction, and over a lifetime’s course finds an acceptable result in destroying deconstruction.  (In plain speak, we seek a way out until the day comes when the seeking magically ends and we realize we’ve been out all along).  This trajectory is not undertaken in the light of absolute compulsion, nor philosophical theory, but as an act of joy/bliss.  Like joy, nihilism can be a wonderful sight; a glorious enormity.  A reality that bears witness.  The very truth revealed in acceptance.

I’ll end with this:  the more you seek to expose nihilism, consciously or otherwise, the more you convince yourself that it’s existence is questionable.  The more you struggle to step outside it, the more you mistakenly insist upon an alternative that reflects it’s non-existence and is not there.  The reprieve comes when you realize you’re suspended.  You have paused the investigation.  You accept and more is revealed.  The solution may be simplified but this pause is very real.  We have found that commonly sought after experience known as “relief”.

One day we may learn to stare at the sun.  When that day comes we will be far enough away (precisely and/or microscopically) to avert total blindness and intolerable heat. Patience is paramount.  Hence the pausing.

As far as when and where the pause goes – well that’s entirely up to you.

In all likelihood I am basically rehashing the beautiful peculiarities of thinkers much better equipped to analyze just about everything (or saying absolutely nothing at all, I’ll accept that).  I’m going to pretend, however, that I’m not.  Because in less than three weeks I’ll fly to Berlin again, the same Berlin I wandered about barefoot in; the same Berlin that beholds half my thumb.  Because recalling what we saw and how it felt and realizing that it felt, well, bad, is the only way we stand a chance at living as/for the art and sound and processing we create.  Life is simply better lived resounding in the breath we take.  I don’t advise committing suicide unless you absolutely have to.

For more information, updates, ideas on/for upcoming Berlin performances, email me: valeriekuehne@gmail.com

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this is what happens when you disappear for (about) a year, or: if I can make it past 30 then so can you

Facebook results in Bruxism.  So does Roulette.  So does Cocaine.

Here is the truth:  I honestly believed I was living my life as closely as humanly possible. By closely I mean to death.  By death I mean absurdity, absolutism, annihilation (and anything, really, that offered momentary comprehension).  Cut your arms, eat a pillow, you become a sort of God.  Reality chokes, existence fails and you can prove it.  After all, from darkness shines the brightest light.

Oh, God.  Fucking good and fine until you barf to death.

I do not know why I felt this way.  I probably never will.  The madness pushes in like a bad toenail.  The madness hurts a lot more than you realize and so the value increases, which makes it hurt more still, especially to those around you.  I wanted everything to disappear. I wanted everything to appear immediately.  There is no reason; search for one and nothing changes.

I made myself sick.  I kept myself sick.  I fled to the woods.  I fell in love.  I tried again.  I tried again.  I tried again.  I flew to Florida.  About a month later, I checked Facebook. Somewhere between the daily sun and the unnecessary updating of time and space I became a point.  Singular yet undifferentiated.  I learned, in what felt like a heartbeat, that what I believe (trust + observe) is constantly transforming.  Life is nothing but a beginning and we are always too late to tell.  This understanding took the form of a reflex that had been present in my skin every day but had gone yet unnoticed.  As nice as this metaphor sounds I assure you the reality is infinitely bigger.  If you wake up with a second mouth you don’t go back to bed.

I truly feel that one day I vanished and fell back out an entirely different reality.  I woke up.  I keep waking up.  People tell me that I’m happy, calm.

So here’s the meat, the part I really want you to know:  If you feel trapped in your own life, if you are aware, in microscopic time, of the drudgery of embodiment, and this pervasive sensation is forcing it’s way (sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but always uncomfortably) into your consciousness like a thrombosis; specialized, screaming, then YOU ARE NOT ALONE and your suffering is always temporary.

This is an obvious but extraordinarily difficult element to grasp because suffering teaches us that the only way out is in, and we’re only really in if there isn’t an out.  A bastardized Void.  There is profundity in the ceaselessness of interiority.  There is a certain beauty in destruction, a fundamental grace in decay.  However, there is also vastness.

By vastness I mean that probably you are not important.  Neither Am I.  Seriously.  Take a moment to observe: all we tangibly do is hop around, our only clear purpose to run into things (and we do, well, often dramatically so).  This is not to say that life is pointless, but that the greatest, most inarguable truth to it all is that LIFE IS CONFUSING.  I have come to believe that this confusion, the same confusion that promised me intractable insight into the nullity of living, is anything but.  The confusion is a gift – because once we’re confused enough we simply let go.

For the record, letting go is not giving up.  Letting go is becoming aware of how tightly you are holding on and of the panic you feel when your bones start to loosen.

This may be our legacy, and it is absolutely worth the struggle.  Accept this as you do digestion, earnestly and without embarrassment.  YOU ARE ALL YOU NEVER WERE. Accept and “you” will learn the meaning of SUDDENLY.  All “you” know will pop.  “You” let go and “you” change and probably, if you so desire, make shit better.

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Open Call: Trauma Salon

The Super Coda is accepting submissions for Trauma Salon, an ongoing attempt to understand the nature of Trauma in Performance.  Submissions should both consider Trauma as you understand it (have been exposed to, seen/felt) and how and why that understanding might change if Trauma becomes the focus of a performance experiment, in hopes that Trauma, as we experience and present it, might become more accessible in both a palliative and performed context.  This call is open to all disciplines.  As artists we can HELP EACH OTHER and GROW MORE PRESENT.
The following questions are to be addressed (in some sense, at least) in your submission:

1.  How does Art change you?  Radically speaking, how does one lose oneself (as audience/performer) in witnessing/engaging in a performance and become someone completely different?  Under what conditions do you think this internal shift might transpire?
2.  Why is Performance necessary/urgent?  How can this necessity be internalized and expressed?  Why should it be?  How can this necessity be used as a tool for perpetuating/embedding Performance as a social practice (or collective spirituality, modern catharsis, insert at will).  In essence, why must we, as performers (as well as human beings) do what we do?
3.  Why the the hell do you make art/performance/music?  Why is your practice important?  Why continue doing so?
Your proposal may suggest a means to inflict Trauma in performance.  You may attempt to physically disclose and permanently lose/change yourself.  You may find a way to be traumatized by the audience (or simply sign up for this).  You may simply perform as a means to uncover the essence of Trauma as expressed in performance.  You may make an enormous noise.  You may tell us what you are truly afraid of.  You may injure yourself. You may heal yourself.  You may terrify everyone and no one.  You may grow a second head.
The first installment of Trauma Salon will take place on Thursday, February 19th.  If you wish to submit a proposal for the opening night please send to valeriekuehne@gmail.com no later than January 22.  Subsequent installments will unfold between March – Whenever it’s over; submissions for future performances are rolling.  All events will be held at Panoply Performance Laboratory in Brooklyn, 8 – 111p.  This series is part of a curatorial/intentional shift that is now taking place at the space.  For a detailed account please reference the link to the space above.
it should be noted that this series is NO SUBSTITUTE for any therapeutic measures one may take in their life to alleviate/comprehend Trauma as inflicted upon themselves/others.   We are considering Trauma in both an etymological and systemic sense, abstractly as much as physically, in hopes to better understand and intensify the nature of the art we make and yield some hope/help.  We don’t really want to hurt anyone.
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OPEN CALL: Time Dilation and the Acoustical Orb(it)

A few weeks ago I had the honor of sharing a bill with Natura Morta, three gentlemen who are, in my humble opinion, conjuring the only sound possible, right now.  Something happens when they perform.  Something surpasses determinable acoustics, even basic compounds such as tone, volume, texture, attack, timbre, performance, resonance (although these cues are very operative and probably relevant).  In seeking explanation I find myself partway through La Mont Young’s Dreamhouse and one foot (no, both feet) in a Turkish Bath (House of Leaves also comes to mind).  What I am struggling to affect is this idea of a sonic space so rarely encountered that one completely loses oneself inside, confusion turns to absolute fixation, and whatever the physical space surrounding the sound was is now no more.  Everything but this living, breathing acoustical sphere disappears.  We have tapped into something infrasonic, wind-in-tunnel-dog-out-window. This is a sound not without danger, as it may house the secret of time.

That being said, here’s the Call:

Call for Entry:   Time Dilation and the Acoustical Orb(it)

The Super Coda is accepting submissions for an evening of acoustic experimentation on November 17th, 2014 at Panoply Performance Laboratory. Up to three musicians/ensembles will be invited to present work that confronts the possibility of sound that physically alters both the listener and the space in wherein listeners live.  This Call is open to all.  Consideration will be given to those who work specifically within acoustic fields of Scraping, Sculpting, Noise, Object Manipulation, gongs, Voice & Performers investigating sonic phenomena.  (Also anyone who is fucking conscious of what is going on here)?!

If interested, please send a paragraph explaining why you want to do what you want to do to valeriekuehne@gmail.com. Links to any websites/audio/video you find pertinent to this particular project or that you just really like, especially if I don’t know you I want to get to know you.

DEADLINE:  November 7th 2014.

Act Swiftly.

many thanks,

The Super Coda

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I hate critical aesthetics because I probably love *them* and so I have these thoughts to share about the process-based dance opera, Any Size Mirror is a Dictator (ASMIAD)

(In response (joyously, inevitably) to

http://hyperallergic.com/154216/this-opera-doesnt-need-you/ ;

Why Make a Piece in the First Place?

&
Any Size Mirror is a Dictator is a Petri Dish

(FYI Any Size Mirror is a Dictator is an operatic collaboration between Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL) and Dreary Somebody)

Everybody is wrong.  That’s the point.  ASMIAD is the all the (wonderful?) activity in their heads; the dictators, the dancers, the musicians, the spectators, the question is why does it feel this way?  That some (any) of us can coexist in this space?  (My best friend had to leave the hyperbole as a stereotypical symptom of B.O. and it was fucking hot).  (Others stay to leave to write about it, apparently).  If we can coexist, these are the (operatic) ways you may cognize coexistence (I think); direction, production, pattern-identification, The Result – the opera is only as alienating as life itself.  And so the question “what is real?” (in properly Absurdist fashion) is not an inappropriate result of observing this piece.  Who can/is (co)existing in this life? Are you?

I mean, look.  Look at what’s happening all around you, does anybody not see the velocity of thoughts that became a thought that became a book in an opera.  On the floor.  These bodies, they stink, the viscerality hovers.  Inside a facial expression or operational tick or essential tremor and we all stand alone, I suppose, insofar as we follow/persevere.

There really is no sense beyond sense thank god.

So pay attention.  Don’t go anywhere else before or after this opera, a reversion back to prior theories that properly distinguish chaos from pseudo-order.  This never works, a purely aesthetic criticism, so don’t think about it.  Then all the parts that don’t work in your head, aesthetically or otherwise, splat, lay em right down here.  That’s what ASMIAD does.  All the action dumped *right here* fulfills survival, (albeit under the guise of (co)existence, and the subsequent problematics of agency, emotion, intelligence, and cognition thereby).  We want this (living) to work and so we have to examine it, create it, and most importantly, act as observers to this opera, this life.  Fuck the semiotics of alienation.  Fuck history.  This is a process(ing) by which we are, and it’s kinda gross and primitive before we ever had a name for it.  Sweat, yes.  Smarmy birth, transgression, the inside of an ear.

A nasty net of hypotheses laying on the dance floor over the 7 week opera run in town, and now you have to cognize yourself but as soon as you’re cognized everyone will recognize you and so you choose to live wondering why they recognized you or to cognize them. There are so many ways to mirror these choices, sublingually, sonically, verbatim, and as many as possible are laid down right here, in a gallery made human but not forsakenly so.

So we observe, and now we may ask:  what the fuck have we been missing?  Why don’t we understand this, this opera thing and what it wants of us?  (Because, after all, isn’t this what we are all responding to)?  The fact is, ASMIAD has the missing parts and they are concurrent.  They are touching.  This is unity.  Which is a very big bitch to grasp.

Just be fucking present.  When you do this works.

On a deeper note, don’t be afraid to be entertained

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