Thursday, April 24, 2008

Olchar's Report for Fiddlesticks #4

This one was quite a journey (aren't they all).

It began for me on the Friday night, working with Tsubasa to (finally) get Angee's floor tiles installed in the space. In many ways, putting on these kinds of shows and events are simply an excuse to get to prepare them with each other (in many ways the opposite is true as well, of course). Usually this preparation is pretty frenetic, in the earlier stages we're all brainstorming excitedly in a dozen different directions, in the latter stages running about like chickens with our heads lopped off, trying to salvage whatever is going to happen from the ruins of what we'd planned to happen even as those ruins continue to fall down upon us, all adreneline and (pointless) purpose. This has been for me one of the most durable and characteristic experiences of Post-Neo, whether with Catharsism of Narcotica in Ohio, with the Itinerant Mirror in England, with the Fiddlesticks shows here.... So it was particularly nice to install these with Tsubasa in a completely different manner, talking quietly and calmly as we both knelt on the floor, tearing off smaller and smaller pieces of tape as the roll disappeared; and an opportunity to take in at least a bit of his sensibility as he patiently compared tiles, grouped and regrouped them, placing each one with a care that made me feel a bit of the barbarian (bar bar bar).


The performances for this installment evolved in unexpected ways. We'd known a couple weeks in advance that Alex would be performing that night, but didn't know what he would be doing (we'd rather get to experience the piece like everyone else); and as of a week or so before we'd planned to do a set of Post-Neo Simultaneous Poems. Then we learned about Mr. Hugo Ball-Rat's illness.

We'd already done the Familiars' Hospital the week before, an undertaking that shows how some of us have come to relate to these inanimate rubber ids; and now a similar situation had struck us not with familiars, but with pets--not entirely different, but: alive. And in it David had suggested a Medicinal Poem; so this was added to the schedule for Saturday. A poem to read to everyone here, both written by and dedicated to a rat in England who could never read or write it (despite having done so)--and a gesture of friendship and empathy between two far-flung communities.

A couple days later, we learned of Tom's illness; and in the notion of the Medicinal Poem that David had put forward on behalf of a beloved pet on another continent, we found one form through which to materialise our concern, gratitude, and friendship to to this man on the other side of our own continent, whom none of us has met in person but with whom a number of us have collaborated, corresponded, and engaged with as readers. And so we added to Saturday's event a performance of a text Tom had sent me to play around with a few months ago.

So Saturday arrives, etc. etc. forgot we don't have key-cards etc. the printer doesn't etc. etc. etc. where's etc. etc. which ones should etc. etc. etc. etc. Oh shit, we thought you meant a digital etc. etc. etc. etc., and we prepare for the poetic chain-gang we had planned for Mr. Ball-Rat's medicinal poem: Warren reading it aloud from David's blog in the computer lab, shouting it to me standing in the doorway, shouting it in turn to Tomislav who finally delivers it to our guests in the gallery via Dave Hartke's puppet. (This mirrors a piece we had done in England a couple years ago at the Itinerant Mirror Cabaret: Warren had called in from the States to David Edwards at the desk of King Ludd bookshop; they eventually ended up downstairs in the basement where Natalie Waldbaum had to act them out.) It is as we are about to read the poem that Warren learns from that blog that Mr. Hugo Ball-Rat had just died. And so the poem became a Funereal Poem or Anti-Eulogy (a rodent Adonais); delivered with great aplomb by Dave's puppet.

Then it's onto the simultaneous poems--now pared down to only two, one by David (we did a few more at Fiddlesticks 5, which you'll see eventually) and one by Tom. Great fun as always; I think I've performed David's 'Society Function...' four or five times and have never to this day managed to gather the apple and nearly-empty-fast-food-cup-with-a-straw that the score calls for.

Then Tom Taylor's texts; Warren, Tom and I had scored them for three voices, treating each section differently, using techniques quite different from those of the simultaneous poems we'd just performed: performing them as canons, reading in different directions, following various visual cues--following the approach of the Be Blank Consort, many of whom have known and worked with Tom for decades. The texts were great fun to do; I'd like to read more Taylor aloud when I have the opportunity.

And finally there is Alex's piece, which turns out to be a very touching and understated vignette on the death of his grandmother. It manages to be simultaneously very direct--it is what it says what it is (yes), and it has an immediate emotional impact--and also quite readably indirect--we only hear his responses as he talks on the phone, not wanting to talk about it, yet, at least. And it gathers together the theme/s that have, gradually, turned into a very sad week, and affirms that, nonetheless, it can be dealt with, and that somehow, indeed, it seems to have tied itself together.

And as usual, most of us remained behind for hours afterward, ordered pizza and ate it in Jamie's studio; at one point Alan's remaining City Poems were retrieved from the gallery and passed around again; etc etc etc., far into the night.

And then onward to Fiddlesticks 5--reports and documentation when we can! Huzzah!