Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Personal Mental Zirkus

Berlin Berlin ------ I'm in love with you again. You can smoke almost everywhere, eating out is cheap (strong £?), nobody gets on your case for wearing an ex-East German Army hat to keep the cold war/wind out, the drug dealers usually fuck off when you tell them to.....yeh it's ok there. The Mental Zirkus came to town - something wicked this way comes said Ray Bradbury, and he was dead right, although in the increasingly fast ageing ancient-speak of the time, he certainly meant something quite different. Needless to say in time honoured fashion I spent so much time out I didn't get to see much of the action - setting up, taking down, painting, gaffering, installing, networking but mostly blabla-ing, eating, sleeping, getting totally smashed, chick-checking etcetc. But there are a few memories, mostly of my own experiences of course (?). Fast Faust man Jean-Herve Peron First kicked off the proceedings on the main stage with a solo performance involving a cement mixer, which almost blew out all the juice, so he couldn't use it anyway (a good thing probably!), a sewing machine, some power tools, and a large bin of pretty organic matter consisting mostly of old hay used for cow-bedding, corn husks, and some other smelly slightly gooy but definitely moist verging on wet bits, which of course he dutifully threw handfuls of over the audience! (Twice). Using a loop sampler he built up layers of bass, guitar, horns, voices, and machines. Very powerful - take it or leave it. Then he was also invited to join myself, Tom Zunk, Gunter Schickert and Elke Postler - unfortunately Tom got sick from some meat he ate and didn't play, but the show went on anyway - we were there to improvise, so it wasn't a major disaster - the music was fine, the audience liked it. No probs. Spent the rest of the night checking out some of the dvd/lighting/visuals/installations/artists - missed the other couple of groups that played. Next day I spent 5 or 6 hours setting up for my "Art is not a Mirror" performance. Full title (which was only "made public" on the day) "Art is not a Mirror, it is a Hammer" - involved a lot of painting, gaffer tape, metal wire, mirrors and hammers. But before that Tom (now fortunately recuperated!), Gunter, and myself played while Elke did her "Pink Salamander Dance". This was mostly a nice warm atmospheric 45 minutes on the smaller stage, so more intimate. We finished at around 9pm - theoretically I had an hour and a half to set up the whole stage/place for the mirror/hammer gig. As usual there were suddenly major changes to the programme - nobody seemed quite sure what was happening - remember I did get to see Scapex from Rotterdam, with Zirkus organiser Ron Lageweg on vocals - this was the Real Rotterdam Vibe of the whole weekend! Mean and dirty, spacey and trancey! Back to the schedule ---->> I was supposed to start at 11.30 pm - ended up as the final act, hitting the stage at 3.30 am. And why not I asked myself? Yeh I'm a fucking star man! (Well actually a previously unemployed but now self employed ex-underground cult hero). I went on stage with only 4 definite ideas - music at the beginning, the middle, and the end, and breaking a mirror. A great opportunity to wind people up in a friendly way - the packed-out waiting room captive gotcha where I want you scenario. Why am I here? Why are you here? Hours of waiting and waiting for what? And then maybe totally bored after 5 minutes or halfway through? In other words I really took my time! I wasn't there as a "performer" - this was no act, no theatre, this was me being me the crazed human part musician part performance artist at 4 in the morning, wandering around mumbling, what should I do, so many possibilities. "If you can't just sit there for 45 minutes without getting bored, there's no hope for you!". In a way I guess it's one of the best bits of "anti-art" I've done in quite a while. And the 3 pieces of music were fine - first Indian style flute to relax the place, then very spikey electronic vocals and flute, and to end some wild soprano with Tom on bass drum and Gunter on trumpet. No point in trying to explain the whole thing in detail, although I might give it a go later, but there should be a dvd of it available, and if not then certainly some photos - when that happens you'll be the first to hear and see about it. In the meantime though - many thanks to the Supamolly Club people, who were very helpful with the sound, lighting, and food (very nice!) - also Ron Lageweg who conceived the whole thing - another one maybe next year?

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