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Death has brought Anne Laplantine back to life - click opera
February 2010
 
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Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 10:07 am
Death has brought Anne Laplantine back to life

To stay sane, most of us keep a barrier in our heads between our daily life and the sure knowledge that we'll be dead one day. We also keep a barrier between our lives and the deaths of others in other parts of the world, even when they're dying at the hands of soldiers our taxes fund. And we keep a barrier between our normal lives and the violent news events we read about -- terrorist events and mass shootings which, in theory, could break out anywhere.



The state also places barriers designed to protect us from violence and death -- more and more of them. Gordon Brown yesterday announced that there'll be airport-style searches and screening at Britain's 250 busiest railway stations. Searches and evacuation routines will also extend to cinemas, theatres, restaurants, hotels, sporting venues, hospitals, schools and churches. These changes follow a report by security advisor Lord West -- a report which could not, itself, be published "to avoid alerting terrorists to any weak spots".

This is what I've called the Paranoid Security State at work, and the irony is that the more barriers (x-ray machines, search and check points) it erects between members of the public and potential death, the more the Paranoid Security State makes us all paranoid about public life; the very "securitization" of cinemas, theatres, restaurants, trains etc makes us imagine the reaper everywhere we go. Instead of death being banished, it's beckoned. Meanwhile, of course, while there's any sort of public life at all, there's no possible protection against people determined to kill us. That's been proved by Pekka-Eric Auvinen, by Cho Seung-Hui. As long as there are schools and guns, there will be the possibility that "terrorists without a cause" will enter them and start shooting.



Anne Laplantine is an artist, which means she thinks in unexpected and original ways with her emotions, and shows us the results of that thinking in pictures and music. After we worked together on Summerisle -- a gentle, lyrical record -- Anne got married, left Berlin to live in Paris, and quit music for playing Go. She went to Go clubs and went on Go tours, playing the game obsessively. Then, in April, Cho Seung-Hui killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. Anne stopped playing Go. Suddenly, surprisingly, she started making music again. Music she released via YouTube, where millions of people were investigating and debating the shooting in videos, comments, and video comments.



"You know," she told me in an email, "I stopped playing Go just after this event at Virginia Tech. I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of Cho Seung-Hui and reading the texts he'd written. They aren't very interesting in themselves, but they reveal an extreme solitude which spoke to me. My first YouTube video was a homage to Cho Seung-Hui, and many of my subsequent videos are too. I oppose myself openly to videos and comments filled with hate against Eric Auvinen, Eric and Dylan from Columbine, Cho Seung-Hui, who for me are saying something very important about our Western societies. I defend them 100%."

What's so remarkable about Anne's videos is that violence, in them, is not distanced. The barriers are gone. Death is not distanced by moralism, it's not divided from lyricism (her songs about school shooters are lyrical and spookily tender) or nature. These events are also not kept distinct from Anne herself. She shows herself holding weapons, her own blood dripping into a glass of water, an American soldier kicking in a house door and finding Anne standing in the room, a scene of jets and helicopters in the West followed by a scene of them being shot down by Islamist guerillas in Iraq, or Anne as a character in a video game. Simple images of nature are intercut with gentle songs full of understanding and captions which say "you want to kill them all. i understand. i want to do the same. it's not with anger. just for fun."



Anne's art videos about violence, released out of the context of art, attracted internet-style crank comments rather than art criticism. "Anorexic FranSSe, I bet you are having an e-date with the Irish Faggot, The Faglector, Chris Gayne, And LeeJinFaggotMemphisCockSuckingSonOfATransvestite," taunts user SirJamesSteal. "oh yes i do," Anne replies, ever-sweet.

By this point -- a month ago -- Anne had "friended" (in that internet verb which doesn't quite mean the same as "befriending") several YouTube users who film themselves shooting weapons. People with names like "Shooter" and "Sturmgeist89". Last week one of them -- Sturmgeist -- killed eight people in a Finnish school before turning the gun on himself. Anne's name was mentioned in an article in Der Spiegel entitled "How can mass murder be prevented?" The fact that Anne had friended Auvinen, and that her user picture showed Seung-Hui, was, said the journalist, a warning sign. He doesn't seem to have gone so far as to investigate Anne's videos or try and decipher her message.

"I'm a bit scared of being implicated in this story," Anne told me. "I didn't know him personally, but we were online friends. They all had their YouTube accounts closed. And I'm a bit scared of being questioned because, yes, I supported them, and I continue to post images on YouTube which risk being censored. I'm not sure the police understand artistic motivations."



Journalists and the "paranoid security state" don't either. Samina Malik, the self-styled "Lyrical Terrorist" who wrote poems praising suicide bombing -- and worked at WH Smith at Heathrow -- was found guilty on November 9th of possessing records likely to be used for terrorism. A judge will pass sentence in December. The 23 year-old will almost certainly go to jail.

Anne Laplantine, meanwhile, has released CTRY, a DVD of her latest YouTube videos, which contain her latest songs. She's sending it out to film festivals with a press release which states "Anne Laplantine respects the law of Lex Talionis; an eye for an eye".

I find this new work dangerous and disturbing and Dostoyevskian. It's also spookily beautiful. I have to admit that the dark subject matter adds gravitas to Anne's light, lyrical musical style, and that her choice of YouTube rather than the art or music industries as a place to release the work has connected her to current events -- and feelings -- in the world a lot more closely than the art world ever could. Ironically, her attraction to the solitude of killers has released her from the solitude of her own ivory tower, and led her out into the world. I'm just a little sad that it had to be death that finally brought Anne Laplantine back to life.

76CommentReply

qscrisp
qscrisp
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 11:05 am (UTC)
The youngest was the most loved

I have to say I was quite fascinated by the whole Virginia Tech thing when it happened, and was collecting press clippings for a while. I was reminded of the stuttering, socially inadequate hero of Mishima's The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

Recently I wrote to my publisher suggesting an illustrator for a book I have coming out. I looked at the illustrators they had used before and found the one I thought was best, and then sent an e-mail asking if I could please have him to do the cover. I had been perusing his website, filled with the most wonderful artwork. The website stated that he lived with his wife and cat.

I got an e-mail back. I was told that although he would indeed have been a very suitable illustrator, that he had been killed in the Virginia Tech Massacre. It was not something I was expecting and I was deeply shocked. I felt that these things are always closer to you than you think.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 11:09 am (UTC)

Woah. Interesting stuff. I wish you would do something as interesting as Anne Laplantine's work, Momus. Blogging seems to have become the primary thing you do, but I have to say it's diminishing returns. I think I know what your views are on everything now Momus! Have you decided cultural commentary is more important to you than making art/music?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 11:32 am (UTC)

Blogging is only what I do in the morning. What I do during the rest of the day will be released in due course.

But yes, I know what you mean. Blogging is hugging the shore. In its defense, it does exactly what this new work does for Anne; it "brings you to life". And being close to life, to the world, is important for artists.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 11:47 am (UTC)

Oh god, violence, how boring.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 12:00 pm (UTC)

Also, terrorism shouldn´t be stopped as it would take a lot of lolz out of the Encyclopedia Dramatica.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 12:52 pm (UTC)

Let someone put a bullet through her child's head. let's see how much she agrees with it then. Let's see her make art about that, then I'll start to take comments like that remotely seriously.

I can't speak for Anne, but I will say that the argument you advance here is one usually put forward by people who support the death penalty -- Lex Talionis -- to change the minds of people who don't. Anne has said she supports Lex Talionis.

What's more, her art is remarkable for the way it shows perpetrators and victims to be essentially the same people. Sometimes she holds the gun in these videos, sometimes someone points it at her. In other words, she has grasped the utter nihilism at the heart of Lex Talionis: that it makes killing the only universal principle. It removes the barriers between rightful killing and wrongful killing, killing you and killing me, and just leaves killing. With nobody left at the end of the day to shout "But you started it!"


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 01:27 pm (UTC)

If she didn't do that thing with her eyeballs then maybe...


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peacelovgranola
-
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)

you've got to be kidding me. these are the kind of "liberals" christopher hitchens is talking about when he says some on the Left have bizarrely taken up fundamentalist islam as their new issue for tolerance. tolerance, compassion and understanding for a view of the world that would put women in black bags, keep them from the light of day, and board the windows up. the same "liberals" who would keep silent at the murder of others if it's been decided that they "offended" someone's religion (go back and have a look at just how many "liberals" DIDN'T support salman rushdie.) the same liberals who say things like, "art videos about violence? i saw a great one, they kept playing over and over again, on sept. 11, 2001 on television."

well, i'm off to write some love letters to osama bin laden..."i feel your pain...you need a hug," etc. (oh so provocative and avant-garde!)


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)

Yeah, I remember that time an anonymouse asked him if he was against female circumcision and instead of going lol stfu n00b he went all IT IS A COMPLEX ISSUE BLABLABLA.

That´s when I realised trolling is the answer.

IMOMUS: IT REALLY MAKES YOU THINK DRINK.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC)

I don't see anything wrong with viewing the perpetrators of these atrocities as victims, along with the people they killed. After all, these are fucked-up miserable people who have generally led, for one reason or another, horribly isolated lives, eventually triggering some sort of psychopathic reaction, which almost always leads to their own deaths too. Yes, they're just as much victims of their circumstances.

That said, I still don't want them killing anybody. If that can be avoided, it should be avoided. And undeniably one way these people try to legitimate what they do and seek a community around their psychopathic obsessions is through the Internet. Posting pictures of themselves posing with guns on community-based websites like youtube is one way of doing it. The more responses they get, and the more people 'friend' them, the more they feel legitimised. Which is why I think it's fucking irresponsible to seek out these people on the Net and friend them on the basis of their violent obsessions. Feelings in art may stay in art, but the actions of artists can still bisect with 'real life'.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)

There's another possibility: that by parading our interests, habits and intentions on the web we are showing the world -- and that means policemen and social workers as well as marketers and bloggers -- who we are, and what's inside our heads.

Maybe you didn't follow the Spiegel link, and of course it's in German, but what it says is that the kind of YouTube videos Seung-Hui and Auvinen posted can actually -- and should -- act as a warning, one we should act on. The article ends with a list of URLs of other YouTubers who present signs of being ready to go off on shooting sprees.


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)

Anne is 100% against censorship. Sadly YouTube is not.

YouTube, and more importantly, the internet as a whole need to be an open conduit where nothing is pre-screened and nothing is removed.

Let the gun nuts come out in the open.

Shine the light.





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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 04:27 pm (UTC)

The slippery slope of "fairness":

"Does a person who is born wealthy, with access to a good education, actually deserve their wealth any more than a person born into a situation with less opportunity? Shouldn't that wealth be divided evenly?"

The denial of responsibility in this one aspect of life will eventually spread to all others:

"If a person's upbringing and genetics lead to the development of a homicidal personality, and the person commits a crime, is that really the person's own fault? Can we really, then, punish this person?"


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youwhowereborn
youwhowereborn
animals rule, timothy conquered, f.y.mf'ing p.s.
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)

Love the sinner, hate the sin! Amen!


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)

It is very moving when someone is talking about others situation, rather than their own and that is why I like these videos.

My half-brother shot a guy in the head once too. The man who was shot survived as a miracle and had a trail against my half-brother who now is either in prison or not depending on if he have caused more trouble lately.

Beautiful movies, is what I'd like to say.


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alaplantine
alaplantine
alaplantine
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)

thank you.


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klasensjo
klasensjo
klasensjo
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)

I find this new work dangerous and disturbing and Dostoyevskian. It's also spookily beautiful.

I can identify with this remark and I think this post is very interesting. Although I have learnt not to confuse the artist's "real" life with her art, this is walking a fine line between violence that I truly despise and a personal curiosity and need to understand these violent human emotions and the true cause of their existence. This is defining art, in other words.

On a personal level I hope that Anne is doing well and does not get caught up in some media frenzy.

Yours unequivocally.


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niddrie_edge
niddrie_edge
raymond
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)

Agreed.

Getting caught in a media frenzy may be the only way to challenge issues about the way our society is at present though. Its a hard game to win as many have been maligned and marginalised into a corner before this.
It could be GO on a whole other level.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Bang guns, ban guns, BANG GUNS!

Great blog, Frank Furedi would love your musings on nanny-statism and risk avoidance.
I'm a very little intrigued that Anne finds boring, homicidal sociopaths fascinating however.
Cho Seung-Hui was no Raskolnikov - perhaps Mother Nature ripped him off..
Thomas S.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Bang guns, ban guns, BANG GUNS!

Nice Devoto riff!

I'm a bit of a Furedi fan. I seem to like Englishmen with Italian names, don't I?


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