Monday, 29 April 2013


Hans Bellmer - Untitled, 1960

Extract from Marquis de Sade - Juliette:

What’s this! are manners and morals then more important than religions? Depending absolutely upon the degree of latitude in which a country chances to be located, manners and morals are an arbitrary affair, and can be nothing else. Nature prohibits nothing; but laws are dreamt up by men, and these petty regulations pretend to impose certain restraints upon people; it’s all a question of the air’s temperature, of the richness or poverty of the soil in the district, of the climate, of the sort of men involved, these are the unconstant factors that go into making your manners and morals. And these limitative laws, these curbs and injunctions, aren’t in any sense sacred, in any way legitimate from the viewpoint of philosophy, whose clairvoyance penetrates error, dissipates myth, and to the wise man leaves nothing standing but the fundamental inspirations of Nature. Well, nothing is more immoral than Nature; never has she burdened us with interdictions or restraints, manners and morals have never been promulgated by her.

Oh, Juliette, you’re going to think me peremptory, somewhat the rebel and an enemy of yokes and handcuffs; but with uncompromising severity I am going to dismiss this equally absurd and childish obligation which enjoins us not to do unto others that which unto us we would not have done. It is the precise contrary Nature recommends, since Nature’s single precept is to enjoy oneself, at the expense of no matter whom. It may very possibly follow from the observance of this axiom that our pleasures disturb the felicity of others; will those pleasures be the less keen for that? This so-called “Law of Nature” with which fools wish to manacle us is thus just as fantastical as man-made laws and, trampling them all indiscriminately in the mud, we may be intimately persuaded that there is no wrong in doing anything we may well please. But at our leisure we shall return to these subjects; for the nonce, I flatter myself in the belief that my discussion of morality has been as convincing as my reflections upon religion. Let’s now put our theories into practice and, after having demonstrated to you that you can do everything without committing a crime, let’s commit a villainy or two to convince ourselves that everything can be done.”

Electrified by these discourses, I fling myself into my friend’s arms; in a thousand little ways I show gratitude for the care she is lavishing upon my education.

Translated by

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Alex Bag - Untitled Fall '95

Alex Bag (born 1969) in New York City is an artist working primarily in video. She currently resides in Glen Ridge, New Jersey.

A performance video on art school, Fall '95 documents the fictionalized life of the New York City art school School of Visual Arts student, played by Bag herself. Taking the form of a video diary, Bag's character addresses the camera directly, expressing her thoughts on life and art, which mature significantly over the course of eight semesters. Interspersed between these entries are clips commenting on a variety of topics including male aggression, mockingly portrayed by toys, and video art from the 1970s.

In Untitled Fall '95, Bag, at the time an art student, "plays" Bag the art student. In a series of deadpan performances, Bag gathers fragments of pop detritus, fashioning a thoroughly mediated document that is at once a celebration and a record of loss. With the narrative inevitability of a TV serial, the eight diaristic segments trace a woman's struggle to make sense of her experience at art school. As each installment marks the start of a new semester, Bag's character addresses the camera with her latest observations and frustrations.

Interspersed between these confessions are eight set-pieces, in which Bag performs scenes from the background noise of her imagination: a pretentious visiting artist, London shop-girls discussing their punk band, a Ronald MacDonald puppet attempting to pick up a Hello Kitty doll, the singer Bjork explaining how television works. These surreal episodes sketch out what Bag sees as the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of contemporary youth culture, and teeter on the divide between parody and complicity.

What emerges is a picture of anxiety, boredom, and ambivalence. As Bag despairs at one point, her culture is being sold back to her. However, popular culture, enmeshed with fashion, music, and the art world, necessarily depends on the machinations of capitalism. How does one mount a successful critique, when irony, satire and subversion have been enshrined by advertising and the popular imagination?

it's one of those uber low production value experimental video art pieces that some people love due to it's unique and unorthodox style, but really it's just a bad recording of a girl complaining about art school in different costumes and different attitudes.

I thought it was pretentious bs. But then again you might like it. who knows. it's probably impossible to find. I only saw it because a professor had a screener copy of it, but really it's not worth the trouble of looking for it... in my opinion.

The work that made Bag’s name was “Fall ’95”, from the same year. The DIY confessional film depicts Bag as an art student recording the growing pains of the art school experience directly into a VHS camera. Interspersed with the student protagonist’s development and thoughts, Bag added small segments like scenes glimpsed from a changing remote control. They ranged from a lo-fi toy soap opera about bunny murder to fake chatline sex ads, to a comedic take on dated video art.

Apart from Bag’s deft performances and transformations, what makes “Fall ’95” so enjoyable to watch is how it highlights the stupidity, hypocrisy and motivations of the art world itself. It’s a vein that has run throughout her practice. Art is a source of humour in “Fancy Pantz” (1997), depicting a terrible art dance troupe, and 2001’s “The Van”. In the latter, three artists (all played by Bag herself) are filmed in the back of a van, talking about their work on the way to an art fair. Each describe their work, all perfect contemporary artwork clichés. The gallerist “Leroy Laloup” is equally as risible, exclaiming, “I’m the best, my gallery is the best and you girls, you’re the best! You’re like the coolest, sexiest, hippest pieces of art known to man.”
Francesca Gavin 

Alex Bag’s video, Untitled Fall ’95 (1995), is a parody of the life of an art student. I think of it as the best summary of art school in New York. All though I have not completed all four years of my schooling, I can see the direction it is moving in. I have completed stages one and two. The first being summarized by my excitement to be in New York, to be on my own, to feel hip. Like Bag, “I am just so stoked to be like, around people who like, understand me, and like, um like me.” I got my septum pierced in my second semester at NYU.

But I soon figured out what Art School is all about. Each semester unfolded in accordance with Alex Bag’s monologues. My second year began with excitement that gave way to frustration. I resented the core curriculum classes, which I felt had nothing to do with me, the artist. Eventually I found myself appreciating the inspiration from other disciplines. Anything learned can help create a context in artwork. I could apply almost anything to what I was doing in the studio. Alex Bag’s character had the same feelings. She also shares my feelings for the personal aspect of sharing work; the problem of having to explain your work and then getting grilled by twenty people. Art is personal, and it is hard not to take criticism personally.

There is one line from the video that draws haunting parallels to my own experience: “You know all these boys have been like, welding together these giant creations, and wheeling them into class, and like, no one asks them ‘um, excuse me, how big is your dick?’’’ How bizarre that fifteen years after this video was made, boys are still being praised for the same enormous structures.

Now I just wait for my disdain for my classmates to settle in and for my exasperation with the structured critiques and assignments. I might move to Brooklyn, playing into the role I that I find offensive yet desirable: the Art School Kid.
Carly Stains

Saturday, 27 April 2013


Incapacitants (インキャパシタンツ Inkyapashitantsu) are a Japanese noise music group formed in 1981. It consists of Toshiji Mikawa and Fumio Kosakai, whose stated aim is to produce "pure" noise, uninfluenced by musical ideas or even human intention, using primarily feedback, vocals, and various electronics. Kosakai calls this sound "hard noise", as a nod to hard bop.

The group was formed in 1981 in Osaka, Japan, as the solo project of Mikawa, a member of the noise improv group Hijokaidan. Mikawa, a bank employee, later moved to Tokyo, where he joined with government office worker Kosakai (of C.C.C.C., and who would later become a regular member of Hijokaidan) to make Incapacitants a duo. Many of the group's track titles reference their professions, but because of their day jobs, the two have not often been able to tour abroad. Incapacitants are counted among the more well known of the Japanese noise bands formed in the 1980s, along with such names as the aforementioned Hijokaidan and C.C.C.C., as well as Hanatarash, Solmania, The Gerogerigegege, Merzbow, and Masonna. The group also recorded sessions with Vivian Slaughter of Gallhammer.

The project started in Osaka as something Toshiji Mikawa would do during times Jojo Hiroshige didn’t need him for his main outlet, Hijokaidan. Fumio Kosakai, for his part, was a member of scuzz-erotic performance art troupe C.C.C.C. but craved something harsher. The banker and government employee met eventually met and decided to make the best and most disgusting sounds humans could endure with two contact mics. Thus starts the legend of one of the most inspired outlets to concoct pure, uncomfortable sound.

Their earliest recordings were released on tapes by Toshiji’s own label Pariah (later compiled and released as a CD box set on Finnish power electronics haven Freak Animal) and, as a duo, they did some work before Feedback of N.M.S., but this album is significant for important reasons. For starters, it was released on Jojo’s Alchemy Records as part of the Good Alchemy Vol. 1 series, whose first part was Merzbow’s classic Rainbow Electronics, no fucking less. Feedback is no slouch, and should be regarded as fervently as Masami’s masterpiece; it’s a continuous force of low-end rumble with high pitched clashes of frequencies with what sounds like ongoing screaming for much of the three tracks presented. “Curse Of Ceauşescu” takes almost 30 minutes to unroll, yet you barely feel it lasting that long through your aural nervous breakdown. The live track really shines, demonstrating that noise can breath and become a living entity when captured at the spark of the moment in front of a crowd.

Incapacitants themselves call their style hard noise. I call it “relentless, collapsing art” – it should be on permanent display at all museums, schools, and mental hospitals the world over.
Marcos Hassan

Incapacitants began in 1981 as Toshiji Mikawa's solo project. The original base of activity was Osaka, where Mikawa collaborated with Yamatsuka Eye and others. Later, after the move to Tokyo, Fumio Kosakai became a member, to form the current duo. From the beginning, while the attempt to achieve pure noise has been the most important aspect of their sound, they have also been famous for their stage performances, which are so wild they may remind people of pro wrestling matches. This aggressive, energetic style and the beauty of their noise are unrivaled. Along with Hijo Kaidan, Merzbow, C.C.C.C., and Solmania, Incapacitants is one of the most well known of the noise bands which started out in the early '80s. Because of the members' other work--Mikawa is a bank employee and Kosakai works in a government office--they have rarely toured inside or outside Japan. In November 1999, they performed at the festival Music Unlimited '99 in Wels, Austria. This was their first performance overseas.
Anoema Recordings: For many years (or decades, to be more precise) you have been making ear shattering noises. Any changes or progress in your approach over the years?

Toshiji Mikawa: I started my recording in my high school days. At first, it was guitar improvisation influenced by Derek Bailey and some other improvisers. In those days, I thought I could play that kind of improvisation, of course soon I found I was totally wrong. Then I encountered various kind of "free music" including Jean Dubuffet and L.A.F.M.S. I learned anything was OK and so continued the recording experiments. I made several cassettes under the name of Contradictory Bridge. At that time, I met Jojo Hiroshige and he invited me to join his new unit, originally named Fushoku no Marie, which later became Hijokaidan, by succeeding the original Hijokaidan's name. So, I joined most of Hijokaidan's recording since then (some exceptions recorded by Jojo and Junko only). Contradictory Bridge became Incapacitants, originally my solo recording project. When I moved to Tokyo from Osaka, I was asked to do live performance as Incapacitants and I asked Fumio Kosakai to join as a member. It was in early 90's. As Incapacitants, Pariah Tapes & Repo were my solo recordings. Still, at first, I thought Incapacitants was a recording project and not suitable for live performance. But with Fumio as a permanent member, Incapacitants has changed very dramatically. The reason why I started Incapacitants as my solo recording project apart from Hijokaidan was that I wanted to concentrate on noise itself, keeping myself away from Hijokaidan's disgusting live performance in early 80's. However, doing live performance with Fumio, I came to feel it's fun to me. 

AR: Do you feel there is an insurpassable difference between noise and music? Does noise offer something that music doesn't?

: What I would like to say is that, for example, "techno pop" is the name of a genre of music, but I can't admit that the same thing can be said about "noise". I believe "noise" should stand as it is and should not be taken on by "music". "Music" always tends to take on "noise" as its part, but "noise" should not yield to that attractive temptation. Keeping away from "music", "noise" can maintain its original power and strength. It's quite important to me.
AR: Art is often harnessed for the extra-aesthetic purposes. In your work, what agenda should we look for?

TM: I don't have any special message in my noise, but being loud. 

A mass of high pitched whirling around your head while the junkyard you're standing on rapidly shifts and breaks apart. In my experience this has been one of the headier Incapacitants releases - good stuff to melt into at 2 AM. 

Nicholas Herd: Are there anymore concerts planned in the near future? I understand it is quite difficult to get time off from your day job as a banker to perform concerts, and I remember reading about a talk you conducted at the CCA in Kitakyushu, in which you explained the importance of balancing a good working life with that of your musical output in the evenings.

Toshiji Mikawa: I think you understand correctly what I thought, but recently I changed my mind slightly.  I try to accept offers as many as I can.  Regarding Incapacitants, with Fumio's children still rather young, he would like to stay with his family as long as possible, so live appearances will be reduced.  I decided to accept offers to Incapacitants as my solo or sessions with others, such as GOMIKAWA, if organizers are OK.

NH: Are there any new Japanese artists or bands you would recommend? Many more noise artists seem to be emerging in other parts of the Orient - but most noise from Japan seems to be from artists who have been performing since the 80’s and 90’s, it seems.

TM: Regarding "new noise (area) artists" my recommendations are Jah Excretion, Kazuma Kubota, Endon, Veltz, Niwa and probably many more (relatively) young talented artists, whose names I can't remember now, cos I'm a bit drunken.

NH: As a performer you favour pedals on stage, what is your favourite equipment to use in the live setting?  I also noticed your use of Air Synths which also adds to your physical performance when on stage.

TM: My recent favorite instrument is Tetrazzi.  It's totally amazing!!! As you mentioned, I love Air Synth so much. Very great instruments, especially when used live.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

a book is a performance @ DCA 24.04.13 - pictures

To the DCA this evening for a book is a performance, "an exhibition that showcases artists’ books and multiples to explore and expand the twin concepts of performance and performativity." The esteemed poet Alec Finlay gave a reading alongside some "thoughts and actions grounded in ritual, gesture, mime, documentation and scores." I took a few photos and here they are:

 The name of the poet is Alec Finlay

Works by Christian Boltanski, Nina Chua, Thomas A. Clark, Marcus Coates, Cullinan Richards, Helen Douglas, Alec Finlay, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Richard Hamilton, Sharon Kivland, Li Yuan-chia, Richard Long, Tracy Mackenna and Edwin Janssen, Bruce McLean, Simon Morris, Yoko Ono, Edgar Schmitz with Ulli Lommel, Hans Waanders, Viola Yeşiltaç among many others.

The Dundee art massive

Sophia Hao and Alec Finlay hold forth

Monday, 22 April 2013

an Armando Gallop primer


Armando Gallop (sometimes written as Armando Gallup) (February 12, 1970, Chicago–December 17, 1996), who released material under his first name only, was an American house-music producer and DJ who was an early contributor to the development of acid house.

Armando was born in Chicago to parents of Afro-Cuban descent. He was a star baseball player as a youngster before spinal meningitis put an end to his athletic aspirations. He became interested in dance music, organizing parties by age 16 and mixing on radio by age 17. He and Mike Dunn founded Musique Records and Warehouse Records in 1988, the latter releasing Armando's singles "151" and "Land of Confusion". "Land of Confusion" became a transatlantic club hit in Chicago as well as in Britain, where it influenced their early acid-house scene. He also produced Warehouse releases from Ron Trent, DJ Rush, and Robert Armani.

Instead of working on production, Armando spent most of the early 1990s with a residency at Chicago's Warehouse from 1992 to 1994. He served as an A&R rep for Felix da Housecat's Radikal Fear label and, soon afterward, recorded for that label himself. His first and only full-length album, One World, One Future, was released in 1996 on Play it Again, Sam. Armando died of leukemia shortly after the album's release.

If you lived in Chicago in the 1990s, you couldn't get away from Armando Gallop. As a DJ, producer and promoter, he was everywhere in this town. From his "School Daze" parties at the Hummingbird on 86th and Ashland, to Medusa's and the Warehouse up north, where people from all races came together, he absolutely owned it. Internationally, he was an almost mythical figure: a single name on a slab of vinyl with the sickest beats and a 303 sound that has never been duplicated.

And then one day he was gone. Tragically, Armando was taken away from us at the age of just 26 - usually, an age when a young artist is just getting started.

But in those 26 years, Armando established a staggering legacy. His records - most notably, "Land of Confusion," "151," and "100% of Disin' You" - are classics. He set the model for how parties were promoted. But most of all, his legacy relates to the people he knew and the people he inspired.
Terry Matthew

Freek, can't you see any similarities between Monk and Armando? For me, both have the same spirit. OK, Thelonious Monk pushed things even further, way further, but that's because Monk lived more than Armando. There are more reasons, alright, but in essence, Monk and Armando were alike. It's got something to do with an understanding that's very difficult to put in words. It's got something to do with operating on the edge of what might be considered right, or beautiful, or balanced. It's got to do with exploring things that might be perceived as mistaken, as awkward.

Armando chose the TB-303. He could very well have chosen the piano and I'm sure he would play it amazingly. It's all the same thing. And if Monk had the opportunity to mess around with a TB-303, I'm sure he would produce something amazing too. That's because of this almost superpowerful understanding. It's undeniable that Monk had this great gift. And I'm positive that Armando had it too.

Well, that's how I see Armando's music. For me, it's real Jazz.

This is Armando's most classic masterpiece. To this day, i have yet to hear a 303-line so catchy, so astonishing as this. And still the whole production is so simple built up but with a very innovative mind that Armando had, Hell yes, it even bear a little resemble to todays minimal as well.  "Land Of Confusion" will still rock a floor this year, next year and many more years to come.
House today is simply just use and throw and few can stand up to be classics to what Armando, Mike Dunn and DJ Pierre released. This is simply Class-A stuff.
Rest In Peace Armando. 

I've heard a lot of imitators, and I don't think they're bad, but I've never heard anyone put out an acid bassline like Armando did, and 'Land of Confusion' is one of the best acid tracks ever made. There are a lot of guys that try to imitate his style, but I've never heard anyone put out a track with a 303 and make the kind of sounds that he made. House Music started changing in the '90s and people tried to put out edits that sounded like his. You had DJ Pierre and Phuture, and then Armando. That's just my opinion.
Kevin Starke

One of the few recently-released tracks that will seamlessly mix into any of Prosumer and Murat Tepeli's Serenity is, unsurprisingly, one that's nearly 20 years old. Armando's 'Don't Take It' is one of those "lost classics" that less-than-reputable bootleggers try to sell you from behind their poorly constructed 1995-era Geocities websites and consonant-heavy e-mail addresses. Except, you know, 'Don't Take It' is actually the real deal. (Even though it may still come from a poorly constructed Geocities-esque website anyway.)

Armando Gallop died in the mid-'90s, so it's unclear where Let's Pet Puppies' label head Thomos dredged it up, but be glad he did. His edit of the one-take Armando's acid epic and Sharvette's women's lib session is unimpeachable. (Sample lyric: "A strong mind and a strong car will get you anywhere".) The acid line twists, tumbles, decays, dies, resurrects itself and dies again over the course of its too-short eight-and-a-half minutes. On the flip, Johnny Fiasco reworks the tune, adding a bit of heft to the original and stripping the vocal. Fiasco doesn't do much, but then again with a track like this, the less fussing around, the better.

Thomos seems to have a good deal of Head Studios' tapes lying around, which can only be a good thing for collectors jonesing for that authentic old-school sound, but it's hard to imagine a track like 'Don't Take It' coming out of the coffers again any time soon. Sharvette's vocal is so deliciously strange, complete with the sort of vocal hiccups ("This is Sharvette and I'm here to, uh, bring a message to the ladies", "a classical example of 'wham bam thank you ma'am'") that would undoubtedly be edited out of the Ableton Age. Grab this one while you still can: it's not so much a classic as it is an antiquity. And those, unfortunately, are few and far between.

Todd L. Burns 

This album has it’s place in house history as Armando’s only album. He released it just before he died of leukemia. Armando Gallop was one of the more creative and imaginative Chicago house producers of the time, producing one quality track after another. This album is no exception, if you like house music do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed.

The first three tracks on the album are some lovely jazzy and loungy house tunes showing just how versatile Armando is as a producer. The next track is the famous ’100% of disin’ u’ which is an anthem in Chicago’s house music history. ‘The future’ is probably my favourite track from this album, creepy vocals, sharp hats and an amazing 303 bassline. ‘Transaxual’ sounds as if it was a jazzed-up version of the previous track. The album ends with ‘Sweet love’ and ‘Tunnel vision’ which again don’t sound like anything you heard previously on this LP. Deep melodies, smooth pianos and soulful vocals round up this album nicely.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Marcel Duchamp - Rotoreliefs

Rotoreliefs, 1935

Anemic Cinema or Anémic Cinéma (1926) is a Dadaist, surrealist, or experimental film made by Marcel Duchamp. The film depicts whirling animated drawings -- which Duchamp called Rotoreliefs -- alternated with puns in French. Duchamp signed the film with his alter ego name of Rrose Sélavy.
Rotoreliefs were a phase of Duchamp's spinning works. To make the optical "play toys" he painted designs on flat cardboard circles and spun them on a phonograph turntable that when spinning the flat disks appeared 3-dimensional. He had a printer run off 500 sets of six of the designs and set up a booth at a 1935 Paris inventors' show to sell them. The venture was a financial disaster, but some optical scientists thought they might be of use in restoring 3-dimensional sight to people with one eye.

In collaboration with Man Ray and Marc Allégret, Duchamp filmed early versions of the Rotoreliefs and they named the first film version Anémic Cinéma.

Rotorelief n°11 - Total Eclipse / Rotorelief n°12 - White spiral, 1935

In 1935, Duchamps applied for a patent for his rotoreliefs, producing 500 sets of six two-sided discs to be played on a phonograph at the then uncommon 33 and a third rpms.   The illusions created by spinning concentric cirles were the easy ones.  The Japanese koi fish swimming in a bowl, an eclipse of the sun viewed through a tube, a cocktail glass, a light bulb - those were amazements to viewers.  For all that, Duchamp's hopes for financial success were disappointed.  But the rotoreliefs have continued to attract admirers.  Hans Richter used them to good effect in his 1947 film Dreams That Money Can Buy, the story of a man in a mysterious rented room who disovers that he can see his thoughts when he looks into his own eyes in the mirror.
Jane Librizzi

Rotoreliefs, 1953

Although Italian scientists (unaware of Duchamp's work) found and named this particular form of illusion as "the stereo-kinetic effect" in 1924, Duchamp apparently discovered this perceptual phenomenon independently in the early 1920s, and completed his first set of discs in 1923. Duchamp recognized that by spinning designs composed as sets of eccentric but concentric circles, a viewer would see the resulting pattern as a three dimensional form even through one eye alone, without the supposedly necessary benefit of stereoscopy! By the 1930s, Duchamp had constructed from his experiments a wonderfully whimsical set of 12 spinning images--from a goldfish in a bowl, to the eclipsed sun seen through a tube, to a cocktail glass, to a light bulb--in order to emphasize his discovery of these three-dimensional effects. (Ironically, as another example of harmful separation between truly unified aspects of art and science, art museums almost invariably exhibit these discs as framed, static objects on a wall--whereas they have no meaning, either artistic or scientific, unless they spin.)
Rhonda Roland Shearer and Stephen Jay Gould

The name 'rotoreliefs' refers to optical illusions which appear as three-dimensional forms when displayed on a rotating surface such as a phonograph turntable. Superficially, they present an apparent contradiction to this prohibition against "retinal art."' Once in motion they display a pulsating "relief" that oscillates between positive and negative space. Duchamp used these illusions in Anémic Cinéma (1926) alternating them with a series of French puns, each arranged into a spinning spiral: Something else happens when we begin to allow the puns to have their play. The figurative meaning of “la moelle de l’épée” and “la poele de l’aimée” over powers the literal (non)sense. The reference to sexual intercourse could hardly be more evident. Furthermore, once we recognize its figurative character, our reading of the other disks begins to reveal sexual allusions. ...Suddenly the abstract gyrating shapes which rise from and sink into the plane of the screen come to resemble the igloos, breasts, welts and genitalia evoked by the words. The sexuality is neither in the literal meaning of the words, nor represented in the optical illusions, seen by themselves.
Michael Betancourt

Saturday, 20 April 2013


Set up in 1992 by three white and Eurasian middle-class nerd punks who had just moved into the squat zone of central The Hague from the suburban new towns of Zoetermeer and Alphen a/d Rijn (where Rude 66 also hails from).

Set up in 1992 by three white and Eurasian middle-class nerd punks who had just moved into the squat zone of central The Hague from the suburban newtowns of Zoetermeer and Alphen a/d Rijn (where Rude 66 also hails from). Since no label was interested to release the music of Unit Moebius, their (now legendary) 'acid planet' squat parties in The Hague, with twelve hours of non-stop comatose acid-house music, no lights but heavy strobes and a very freaked out audience (partially due to the strong and pure LSD sold by one of the Unit Moebius members) of punks, squatters, junkies and patients from two nearby psychiatric institutes, made it possible to release Bunker 001 and 002.

The next two releases were paid for with money made from selling LSD (silver surfers!). Soon the fucked up standards for The Hague's hard, dark and crazy industrial techno music were set and the acid scene exploded.

More freaks, more drugs, more artists, more music, so Bunker started to release records by other musicians to support the local scene. Many records, CD's, tapes, comics and videos followed. Despite the downfall of Unit Moebius (a soap opera about drugs (speed!), women, money, psychoses and depressions) in 1997, the decline of The Hague's acid scene (more speed!, ketamin, heroin, crack, hospital admissions, overdoses, suicides and other unnatural causes of death, mind fucking, paranoia and all kinds of psychiatric ailments) and the financial bankruptcy of the label in early 1998 (due to non-paying distributors).

Bunker records has risen from it's own ashes with the new 3000 series (as the last 'old' Bunker was 029) to bring you the latest La Haia Bass/electro funk, Industrial planet rock, new wave techno-pop and La Haia coca disco from The Hague's electronic freak scene. Can you still dig it?

The Hague's 'Iets Vrijers' squat in 1991.

Labels such as Bunker and Viewlexx far from being 'new jacks' in the 'electro revival', never stopped making electro. I-F (Ferenc) and the growing number of artists around his scene in The Hague absorbed Cybotron, Planet Patrol, Pretty Tony, Adonis, Steve Poindexter etc., etc. and refashioned it in an entirely distinctive way, even during a period when electro had become the laughing stock of dance music enthusiasts. And what elevates the Bunker stuff above its lesser imitators is that none of the artists take themselves too seriously. There's a great sense of humor in the artwork, project names, track names, and their website. But, they make ripping electro funk tracks. 

Guy Tavares

There’s no good reason why the dark Flemish electro sound of Bunker, Viewlexx and Creme Organization (from which DJ TLR hails) wasn’t used to better effect as a gateway drug to techno in general and Detroit in particular. As Northern Europeans, these people held long-standing Eurovision Song Contest values of hooks, melodies and craft, embracing their Italo side without irony (whether they were aware of it or not). Proximity and affinity to the German sequencers - from Moroder to Schulze - gave their motorik dreams a panoramic view. While the weather (North Sea bullsh*t) and the landscape (urban Corbusier if we’re being adventurous, Post-WWII Stalinist Gothic if we’re not) shadowed it in bleak dystopian trappings. It’s perfect for any body who’s ever tried on black nail-polish or lipstick anywhere in the world. So it fully makes sense that the label Unit Moebius set up 20 years ago - partially funded by their LSD-fueled ‘Acid Planet’ squat parties in The Hague - would continue releasing music two decades later. The formula remains perfect, timeless in the representation of a specific moment, continuously roaming the trans-Atlantic alleys of the mind.
Raspberry Fields

It is no accident that Bunker Records happened in The Hague, known to most only as home to Europol, the International Court of Justice, and the Dutch parliament. The economic crisis of the 1970s had left the seaside city battered and scarred, and by the end of the 1980s The Hague had still not recovered. "Its centre and wide surrounding area had become almost like Detroit itself. Main shopping streets with half the stores closed, miles and miles of empty blocks, burnt, broken down, dilapidated, windows barred or shattered, and many heroin junkies, homeless people, and crazy freaks walking around," recalls Guy Tavares, owner of Bunker Records and founding member of the label's creative nucleus, Unit Moebius, the hugely influential group responsible for much of the label's early output.

In the suburban punk scenes of neighbouring towns Alphen aan den Rijn and Zoetermeer Tavares had met a guy called Jan Duivenvoorden, who owned some basic music equipment and recorded industrial ambient under the name of IMP Electronics For Defence. Tavares and Duivenvoorden moved to The Hague at the start of the 1990s. Together they began to produce music inspired by Chicago acid and Detroit techno, as well as organize parties in some of The Hague's notorious squats.

At the same time, Tavares' squat parties were becoming more and more popular. "We expanded the acid parties I had done before in other places with cyberpunk concepts: comics (Ranx by Liberatore), movies (Bladerunner, Akira), and literature (Burroughs, Gibson), resulting into 'Acid Planet'."

Acid Planet became a landmark party series, representing both the 'anything-goes' spirit of warehouse acid parties, as well as the dark and twisted aspect of urban dystopia. Tavares describes Acid Planet as "12 hours nonstop heavy smoke and strobe flashing, no other lights. 300 people on LSD I was selling, punks, junkies, psychiatric patients (freaking out on my f*in' acid!) and a few dodgy white trash hooligan characters in a basement, and no other music but heavy acid house and trax. Upstairs there was a cinema playing non-stop cyberpunk movies and sketchy speedfreak weirdos doing invited and uninvited 'performances'." Soon a 'scene' began to develop around the sound, with other people setting up sound systems and recording raw and analogue 'The Hague techno'. 

Bunker Records' primary source of inspiration however, the city of The Hague itself, has changed drastically since the label's inception. The city's centre has been completely remodelled, most of the squats evicted and torn down to make room for shopping malls and skyscrapers by architects like Rem Koolhaas, who Guy Tavares calls "our own Albert Speer, but much uglier in style". During the late 1990s many bureaucratic institution of the UN, NATO and EU moved to The Hague, further accelerating the processes of modernization and gentrification. The Dutch government have even passed new laws, effective from October on, which outlaw squatting across The Netherlands.

"I still can't believe how they cleaned up (and spoiled!) my dirty brown and miserable city for the brave new world", remarks Guy Tavares. Yet Bunker Records will continue to represent the dark side of The Hague for the foreseeable future - when asked what keeps him going, Tavares says, "I'm extremely compulsive, I can't help it (but the doctor's medication does!) - there's no art to it, really!".

Danny Wolfers aka Legowelt

The Ghost That Walks: You had a real education discovering Bunker records in your hometown in The Hague when you first started. What did they teach you, and is there anything you learnt that you still carry with you even today?

Legowelt: Yeah basicly just to not give a fuck about what anyone thinks of you or what you are doing, to not bow to any peer pressure…that pretty much the whole “dance” music industry is just a facade of the dumbest and stupidest people imaginable and that its pretty easy to exploit all that haha!

TGTW: What would you say to artists or labels starting now, as it is so hard to become established. What have you learnt that you think could apply to people starting today in electronic music?

L: Just don’t give a fuck about anything and don’t expect anything I have no further advice

Thursday, 18 April 2013


Bought a few items:

Christina Stead - The Man Who Loved Children (Capuchin Classics), £10.00

Marquis de Sade - Juliette (Grove Press), £9.50

Sandwell District - Fabric 69 (Fabric) CD, £9.75

Whitehouse - Quality Time (Very Friendly) LP, £7.00

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Ortonandon Salonandon @ French Riviera, London 18-28.04.13

Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh are pleased to present Ortonandon Salonandon at French Riviera, London.

Ortonandon Salonandon is the final part of Embassy’s Annual Members Show Exchange 2013. The first part of the exchange took place at Embassy earlier this year.

18-28 April 2013

A group exhibition of Embassy members curated by the Scottish collective Ortonandon.

Artists exhibiting are:

Liam Allan
Claire Davies
Tim Dodds
Lewis Den Hertog
James Hutchinson
Casey Miller
Ben Robinson
Cate Smith
and words by Jake Watts

PREVIEW: 18th April 6-8pm
18-28 April 2013
Open Friday - Sunday 12-6pm
309 Bethnal Green Road London E2 6AH

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

CANNOT BE UNSEEN @ HMC: Trash Humpers - pictures

To the Hannah Maclure Centre this evening for the latest installment of CANNOT BE UNSEEN,  "a Cinema Club that screens the odd, the unique, the cult, the camp, the rare, the kitsch, the trashy, the horrible and sometimes the plain awful." This week's selection was Harmony Korine's much-overlooked masterwork Trash Humpers. I took a few photos and here they are:
The name of the film is Trash Humpers

"Make it, don't take it, make it, don't fake it."

Yuck 'n Yum - Ben Robinson and Ryan Weir : A Trash Humpers Dialogue

Monday, 15 April 2013

Salvador Dalí - Les Chants de Maldoror

 Fertile Eyes III, 1934

Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror) is a poetic novel (or a long prose poem) consisting of six cantos. It was written between 1868 and 1869 by the Comte de Lautréamont, the pseudonym of the Uruguayan-born French writer Isidore Lucien Ducasse. Many of the surrealists (Salvador Dalí, André Breton, Antonin Artaud, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Max Ernst, etc.) during the early 20th century cited the novel as a major inspiration to their own works.

Les Chants de Maldoror is considered to have been a major influence upon French Symbolism, Dada, and Surrealism. Several editions of the book have included lithographs by the French symbolist painter Odilon Redon. Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí also illustrated one edition of the book. The Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani used to carry a copy around in Montparnasse and quote from it. The outsider artist Unica Zürn was also influenced by it in writing her The Man of Jasmine. William T. Vollmann mentioned it as the work that most influenced his writing.

 Desire of Softness, 1934

In 1930 Dali was invited to illustrate Les Chants de Maldoror, an 1869 text rediscovered by the Surrealists in the 1930s that told a nightmarish tale of an unrepentantly evil protagonist. The book was filled with scenes of violence, perversion, and blasphemy. Dali, who worked in a method he called "paranoiac-critical," used a stream-of-consciousness process to access hallucinations and delusions. These personal visions, rather than scenes described in the prose poem, became the subjects of his illustrations.

The individual prints Dali executed in the 1930s, made predominately at the workshop of Roger Lacourière, were experiments in intaglio and were never published as editions. Limp Cranes and "Cranian" Harp, composed as an accumulation of sketches, juxtaposes an array of Dali's quintessential motifs—soft watches, mutating shoes, and the stretched harp and deformed skulls referred to in the title. The harp and skull were, for Dali, evocative of melancholy and death. He claimed that his particular obsession with skull imagery was rooted in a childhood memory of encountering an encephalitic whose skull had been deformed by disease.
Harper Montgomery and Sarah Suzuki 

 Outbidding the Body, 1934

'Les Chants de Maldoror was published in 1869 by the Comte de Lautréamont, the 'noble' pseudonym adopted by the Uruguayan-born Frenchman Isidore Lucien Ducasse (1846 - 1870). Ducasse died in 1870, aged 24, in the chaos of the siege of Paris during the Franca-Prussian war. His provocative ideas are presented in two books, Les Chants de Maldoror (1869) and Poésies (1870), from which the author emerges as a man apparently deranged, possessing instinctive cruelty, nihilistic humour and extraordinary sexual prowess. The romantic epic of the anti-hero Maldoror consists of six 'songs'. It is difficult to fathom. Rife with bombastic clichés, crazy Homeric epithets, absurd comparisons, unexpected banalities and pseudo-profundities, the work has a style entirely its own which is mystifying to the reader. One gets the feeling that absolutely everything is undermined, and that every passage is therefore questionable. Maldoror's overriding preoccupation is to combat God and humanity. The book is a swingeing onslaught on and total invalidation of Western society, the social system, institutions and ideologies. Often resorting to extreme parody, grotesquery and burlesque. cynicism and black humour, Ducasse brazenly takes up arms against the church, state and morals. In a letter to his Belgian publisher Verboeckhoven, Ducasse wrote: 'I have sung the praise of evil.' And indeed, his literary hero's name derives from evil: 'Mal d'Aurore' means the Dawn of Evil.
Dennis Cooper

 Remains of a Carnal Bond, 1934

In 1934, on Picasso's recommendation, the Swiss publisher Albert SKIRA commissioned Dali to illustrate the "Maldoror Songs", the famous text by Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse). Dali engraved 42 coppers in the spirit of all the surrelist themes of his major paintings during this period. The edition size was initially planned to reach 200 but because of SKIRA's financial difficulties, only about 60 books were printed. The copper plates were confiscated and kept in private hands.

In 1970, a three-party contract was signed between DALI, SKIRA and ARGILLET for the final publication of this major graphic series. For this, DALI engraved 8 new coppers and signed all of the 50 etchings that now compose "The definitive edition of the Maldoror Songs". This Edition was printed in two forms: 100 books containing the text and the 50 subjects (signed and numbered), and 100 series of the etchings alone.

 Implements of Crossing, 1934

In 1999 the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam acquired an unusual edition of Les Chants de Maldoror. Illustrated by Salvador Dali (1904 - 1989), it was published in 1934 in Paris by Albert Skira, who was also the publisher of the surrealist magazine Minotaure (1933 - 1939). The new edition of Les Chants was a substantial volume of 207 pages, with 42 etchings by Dali: 30 full-page and 12 vignettes. The book is accompanied by a so-called 'suite': a looseleaf set of the same 42 etchings, many of whose lower margins show scribbled motifs that are missing in the book. Skira had planned 120 'suites' but due to financial problems only 40 were printed, on Vélin d'Arches paper. The book was not printed in the originally planned edition of 80 either, only 60 copies being produced. It was Pablo Picasso who proposed that Lautréamont's inspiring 'cult' book should be illustrated by his compatriot Dali, who has been introduced to it by the writer René Crevel. Dalì embarked on the task in 1932, drawing preliminary studies for some of the illustrations. He was approximately 28 years old when he made the series, about the same age as the 19th-century author of the bizarre texts who died so young. Dali deployed the entire arsenal of his characteristic imagery in his illustrations to Les Chants. The etcher's tool transformed the poet's satanic deluge of words into a paradigm of the artist's own 'criticalparanoid' method. In the like-minded artist, Les Chants evoked associations, hallucinations and deliriums which are linked with his 'personal myths'. For example, Dali quoted Jean-Francois Millet's popular painting The Angelus here for the first time. The well-known figures of the farmer and his wife sunk in prayer, standing in a potato field, appear in four etchings with items from Dal!'s typical vocabulary, such as flaccid parts of the body supported by crutches and distorted bones.
Chris Will

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Derek Jarman - Jubilee

Jubilee is a 1978 cult film directed by Derek Jarman. It stars Jenny Runacre, Ian Charleson, and a host of punk rockers, including Adam Ant and Toyah. The title refers to the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1977.

In Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth I (Runacre) is transported forward in time by the occultist John Dee (Richard O'Brien) through the spirit guide Ariel (a character from Shakespeare's The Tempest). Elizabeth arrives in the shattered Britain of the 1970s. Queen Elizabeth II is dead, killed in an arbitrary mugging, and Elizabeth I moves through the social and physical decay of the city observing the activities of a group of sporadic nihilists, including Amyl Nitrite (Jordan), Bod (Runacre in a dual role), Chaos (Hermine Demoriane), Crabs (Nell Campbell), and Mad (Toyah Willcox).

Numerous punk icons appear in the film including Jordan (a Malcolm McLaren protégé), Toyah Willcox, Nell Campbell, Adam Ant, Demoriane and Wayne County. It features performances by Wayne County and Adam and the Ants. There are also cameo appearances by The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The film was scored by Brian Eno.

The film is heavily influenced by the 1970s punk aesthetic in its style and presentation. Shot in grainy colour, it is largely plotless and episodic. Location filming took advantage of London neighbourhoods that were economically depressed and/or still contained large amounts of rubble from the London Blitz.

The film originated in Jarman's friendship with Jordan, the frontwoman for Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's most outrageous designs for Sex and then Seditionaries - and a punk icon. Jubilee included several punk groups in this state-of-the-nation address - Adam and the Ants, the Slits, Wayne County - marking the start of a fertile relationship with the music industry.

On its release in 1978, the film polarised opinion. Many punks resented the intrusion of an outsider - most notably Westwood, who made a vindictive T-shirt denouncing the film and its maker. But, as ever in his films, Jarman caught an underlying essence in its foreboding aura and casual brutalities - a kind of truth. In fact, Jubilee was one of the rare feature films to come out of punk, and it remains one of the few visual records of London in jubilee year.
Jon Savage 

The film is both much less and much more than a tale of violent, directionless, deviant misfits: it cannot be contextualised as a "story" with "characters" because it eschews any representation of human qualities in favour of a sexualised mass of violence and anarchy. It is stark, blunt, and looks increasingly unsophisticated in its attempts to shock. However, precisely for these reasons, Jubilee encapsulates the ethics of effective punk cinema. Like Morrissey's Trash (1970) and most of John Waters' 1970s films, there is an outrageous, permissive abandon that serves to upset and unnerve the conventional cinemagoer. The characters could have emerged from a contemporary Carrollesque nightmare: they are unrestrained, unpredictable, volatile. And the cast is fascinating. Like Waters’ repertory company — Divine, Mink Stole, et al. — they are uninhibited and often prefer shouting to acting. Jenny Runacre had appeared in Pasolini's The Canterbury Tales (1971); Little Nell (aka Nell Campbell) was already something of a midnight icon from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975); a young Adam Ant, two years before British pop success, wanders amiably through the film; and Toyah Willcox, also two years before her short-lived postpunk, teenybop chart reign, scowls and swears as Mad, and is striking with a head of shaved ginger (she now presents religious and travel programmes on BBC TV). The late Ian Charleson, three years away from "respectability" and "prestige" in Chariots of Fire, is also here, shamelessly naked. He later tried to deny he'd ever been in the movie.

Ultimately, Jubilee is not pure Jarman: it is riotous rather than deliberate in its subversiveness, and it celebrates bi- and heterosexual promiscuity rather than homoeroticism (which is significant, given the rest of Jarman's oeuvre). Increasingly, the film seems like an anomaly in both Jarman's career and in the history of British cinema. For that reason, though, it will always be important.
Julian Upton

Jarman’s original idea for Jubilee was simply to record Jordan’s milieu on Super-8, in more or less documentary fashion, as a record of the times. But when he mentioned this idea to his producers, they saw that cashing in on the burgeoning punk movement might mean box office. They suggested a feature—for which, in order to set his vision of the age within a potent historical perspective, Jarman cannibalized an earlier, unproduced script called The Angelic Conversation of John Dee.

Dee, eminent scientist and confidant of Queen Elizabeth 1, calls on the angel Ariel to show his queen the future of her kingdom: a future which stands in stark contrast to the Arcadian serenity of the Elizabethan framework, centering as it does on a gang of six wild girls (including Jordan in the role of Amyl Nitrate) and the forays they make from their chaotic headquarters in Southwark into the equally chaotic urban wasteland that surrounds them. Meanwhile, in the background, pulling the strings and laughing insanely at the extent of his power, lurks the media mogul Borgia Ginz, who holds the whole of this splintered, violent world in the palm of his hand. Ginz has turned Buckingham Palace into a recording studio, and Westminster Cathedral into a throbbing discotheque in which Christ and the twelve apostles perform orgiastically before a gyrating audience. Sleepy Dorset has become a separate country where blacks, homosexuals, and Jews are banned, and Ginz can retreat to the splendid seclusion of the home he shares with the retired Hitler to pronounce with cynical satisfaction: “They all sign up in the end one way or another.”

The film opened in February 1978—exactly a year after Jarman had first put pen to paper—to decidedly mixed reviews. Its intensely private core (there is as much autobiography in the film as there is ostensible reportage) and somewhat uneasy mix of exuberance and bleakness—as Jarman himself put it in his book Dancing Ledge, “Just as it seems that it is settling down it’s off in another direction, like a yacht in a squall”—was too puzzling for all but the most entranced of viewers. Vivienne Westwood even went so far as to have a T-shirt printed, in which, at some length, she detailed why she despised the film. It was, she said, “the most boring and therefore disgusting film” she had ever seen. She could not “get off watching a gay boy jerk off through the titillation of his masochistic tremblings. You pointed your nose in the right direction then you wanked.”
Tony Peake 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Thomas Schütte - United Enemies

United Enemy (detail), 1994

Thomas Schütte (born November 16, 1954) is a German contemporary artist. From 1973 to 1981 he studied art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf alongside Katharina Fritsch under Gerhard Richter, Fritz Schwegler, and Benjamin Buchloh. He lives and works in Düsseldorf.

United Enemies, made between 1993 and 1997, is a series which comprises over 30 works with figures made out of Fimo modelling clay and ‘dressed’ in various fabrics and displayed under glass domes. Schütte made eighteen similar sculptures each comprising a pair of small male forms bound together with masking tape and medical sticking plaster; there are also a small number of three-figure works and a few single figures.

United Enemies – A Play in Ten Scenes (detail), 1994

‘Speak as if you were speaking to yourself. MONOLOGUE NOT DIALOGUE’, Robert Bresson instructed his actors in his seminal 1975 book Notes on the Cinematographer. The French auteur’s directive is applicable when considering the ‘models’ of Thomas Schütte, whose sculptural figures, theatrical mock-ups and architectural prototypes flaunt an opacity that seems to delimit a similarly self-generating conversation. From the cheery startle of Schütte’s series of metallic monster-like figures, ‘Große Geister’ (Big Spirits, 1995–2004), to the Modernist architectural models of ‘Ferienhäuser für Terroristen’ (Holiday Homes for Terrorists, 2002), the German artist has long pursued a multivalent practice that – though it grew out of the Minimalism and Conceptualism of early 1970s Dusseldorf, where Schütte studied under Gerhard Richter and Benjamin Buchloh – has spoken mostly to itself. That conversation, broaching biggies like power, modernity and monument-making, carries forth with an internal humour that the viewer readily identifies but cannot entirely understand. Obscure or not, it’s this humour – dry, dark, a bit jumpy – that ties together Schütte’s wide-ranging oeuvre.
Quinn Latimer

United Enemies, 2011

Schütte made eighteen similar sculptures each comprising a pair of small male forms bound together and sealed under a glass dome mounted on a cylindrical pillar. He modeled the figures’ heads by hand in coloured fimo, a modeling compound sold in toy shops. The bodies are stuffed rags swaddled on a tripod of doubled beechwood dowel sticks. Schütte bound them in pairs with masking tape and medical sticking plaster. Each couple stands on a shallow wooden plinth set on a tall section of terracotta-coloured plastic drainpipe. Some are trapped facing towards each other; others look away. The figures have bald heads and deeply incised features; their caricatured expressions are reminiscent of the ‘character head’ busts created in the late eighteenth century by Austrian baroque sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-93).

Schütte began working on the United Enemies sculptures during a period spent in Rome where he had been awarded a grant to live and work. He was looking at classical sculpture, such as the Roman portraits of the Emperors housed in the Capitoline Museum. He has explained:

I was [in Rome] in 1992, the year there was this peaceful revolution in Italy where the heads of State and a lot of prominent people were being exposed and discredited and sent to jail. So the caricature and the satire was a reality ... The first big set of [United Enemies] was made in Rome. They are just sticks with a head on top and another stick that builds the shoulders. I used my own clothes to wrap them in and form the body. For me they were puppets and not related to classical art ... I disciplined myself to modeling each head for one hour only. They have no hair, so the face is more concentrated, more general.
James Lingwood 

From United Enemies, 1994

“They are emotional things that we can all relate to,” said Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the nonprofit Public Art Fund, which is presenting the work. “Think dysfunctional family or simply the battles within ourselves. That’s what’s so brilliant about the sculptures. They operate on many different levels.” 

During the Serpentine exhibition Mr. Schütte explained that the faces were partly political caricatures inspired by a visit to Rome in 1992, when “heads of state and others were being exposed and discredited and sent to jail,” he said. “So the caricature and the satire were a reality.” The figures, he continued, were “modeled in isolation but bound in pairs, emerging in parallel.”

They also could be seen as 21st-century examples of the kinds of distorted faces made famous by the “character heads” of the 18th-century German sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt or the satirical political caricatures that the French artist Honoré Daumier created nearly a century later. “They do relate to that tradition,” Mr. Baume said. “Thomas Schütte’s work always balances the political and personal.” 
Carol Vogel