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Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 03:44 am
Warszawa, Berlin

There's something dispiriting -- but also something exhilarating -- about being 18, leaving home, and moving north, far north, into a grim little unit in a student hall of residence. In Aberdeen it felt like being a battery hen machine-cooped in an Arctic research station. But the exciting thing was that you got a blank space, a fresh start, a chance to define who to be, to choose some values, develop some interests, assert some styles -- the more extreme, the better. One of the first things I did was personalise the door of my room in Esslemont House with this image:



It's a still from Tadeuz Kantor's production of his play The Dead Class, and I cut it out of a copy of the John Calder theatre magazine Gambit, which I'd subscribed to along with a fiction magazine called Bananas. That was my image of myself, that I was a serious young man with literary ambitions, and these magazines proved it.

I also liked the zany, grainy, artily neurotic quality the pictures had. The human actors were frenzied, but the dummies were implacable, spookily calm, frozen-faced. The images, taped to my door, projected something alien yet familiar, expressing my secret wish to be new, and yet the same. God knows, Edinburgh had enough arty stuff from Poland (Kantor was a Pole) going on at the Festival -- soon, in fact, I'd get a chance to see a Kantor production at the Murray House Gymnasium, a reminiscence of his youth entitled Wielopole, Wielopole. I'd witness his hysterical style, in which actors clutching doubles of themselves run in circles in a series of gestures influenced by the ideas of Artaud, Grotowski and Gordon Craig.



For now, though, it was enough that the images looked odd, avant garde and continental. This one reminded me of David Bowie's Lodger sleeve, in which he'd depicted himself grotesquely splatted on the ground, perhaps in allusion to Polanski's 1976 film The Tenant, in which a tranny (played by Polanski himself) jumps out of the window of his Paris apartment, repeating the gesture of the previous lodger. (It was a quotation Bowie would repeat in Jump They Say, where he also lies splatted at the foot of a building.)



The aesthetic of these grainy black and white (but spirited and zany) photos I was so recklessly pinning to my door was one I'd later recognize in Quay Brothers films. It was an atmosphere I imagined must reside, with the greatest concentration, in dim ateliers in Warsaw. And yet, even when I came to live in Berlin, and Poland lay next door, I never went to Warsaw. So far, I've just made one brief visit to Poznan, the closest city inside Poland.

That will change this weekend, though. On Sunday November 22nd I play an experimental music festival in the Polish capital entitled The Song Is You. I'll arrive there on Saturday night, in time to catch Justin Bond's performance:

The Song Is You Festival 09
Powiększenie
Nowy Świat 27
00-029 Warszawa, Warsaw
Poland

I certainly hope I'll find Warsaw full of half-lit ateliers in which people clutch at dummy doubles, but I'm ready to be educated out of my shadowy stereotypes too.

Meanwhile, if you're in Berlin there's a show this Wednesday evening (starting 8pm) at Staalplaat Working Space featuring me, Tomoko Miyata and Seiji Morimoto. It's one of the last shows Staalplaat Working Space (Flughafenstrasse 38, Neukolln, U8 Boddinstrasse) will stage, so do come down.

And while I'm mentioning Berlin gigs, don't miss Oorutaichi (plus a certain Joe Howe in his Ben Butler guise) performing at Madame Claude on November 27th. The man is the future of music.

27CommentReplyFlag

anglerfish96
anglerfish96
anglerfish96
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC)



did you hear about jacno?

this video is a nice way of remembering him.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)

did you hear about jacno?

Yes, sad. The only thing you can say is that he died at the height of a well-deserved revival of his limpid, lapidary 80s work.


ReplyThread Parent
jimineuropa
jimineuropa
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC)

There are still a few half-lit ateliers around, although the cultural environment here was seriously damaged when the city's most prominent gay bar was closed by the previous government.

I'll try to drop in and say hi if I can, and possibly introduce myself to you, if I can cope with the idea of breaking down the New Fourth Wall and actually - gack! - talking to a real live 'pop star' person. :)


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)

No fourth walls in my atelier!


ReplyThread Parent
porandojin
porandojin
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 08:12 am (UTC)
War saw

Oh Momus ... Don't have too much expectations about my town ... It's like little Moscow i suppose- full of aggresive capitalism's signs and second-hand cars from Germany. What's intresting of Warsaw is the town was almost completely destroyed in 1944 so now it's like strange modernist fantasy. Personally i like Warsaw's 'historic monuments' /f.e. nowy swiat, stare miasto/ which are 1950 vision of what baroque and classicissm should be.
Just recently Vietnamese merchant area was closed so no cheap pho anymore.
If you have time a good idea may be visiting permanent exhibition of the Town's History Museum
http://www.mhw.pl/mhw/homeen.jsp?place=Menu02&news_cat_id=78&layout=0&lang=en
it's still as it was after opening 50 years ago- no multimedia and touchscreens ...
and this one is quite Quay
http://www.muzeum-techniki.waw.pl/educd/index.php?page=en/en

other interesting place
http://www.csw.art.pl/index.php?lang=eng
http://www.mnw.art.pl/index.php/en/
http://www.zacheta.art.pl/index.php?homepage=1&lang=2

there's is a great, wild flea market sunday mornings at Olimpia's /Gorczewska/Prymasa corner , bus 171 Bemowo direction/ but it depends on the weather every time, recently it's quite rainy.

See you on sunday!


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porandojin
porandojin
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 08:40 am (UTC)
moje miasto moje ludzie

http://www.lightstalkers.org/galleries/contact_sheet/10758


ReplyThread Parent
jimineuropa
jimineuropa
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)
Re: moje miasto moje ludzie

A moze jestesmy eks-sasiadami? chociaz ja mieszkam teraz na Stegnach, mieszkalem dwa i pól roku na Woli ;)


ReplyThread Parent
porandojin
porandojin
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
Re: moje miasto moje ludzie

ja ze Młynowa, zara koło cmentarzów i olimpii


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
Re: War saw

Thanks for the tips!

They closed an entire area of Vietnamese businesses? How come? Where do those people trade now, or did they simply leave Poland?


ReplyThread Parent
jimineuropa
jimineuropa
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
Re: War saw

They still work in various other market areas dispersed around the city - they still seem essential to the economy here, especially for the less well-off. I myself have benefited from their services many times over the years, esp. regarding good cheap food and warm winter coats. :)


ReplyThread Parent
porandojin
porandojin
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
Re: War saw

I think they moved to big warehouses in the outskirts. They continue their business there. But the charm of the Vietown, which looked like a southeasian city, is lost now ...

http://mazowsze.blox.pl/resource/stadionXlecia.jpg


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
Re: War saw

Warsaw is boring and ugly city, but you can find some interesting
and picturesque places. csw - center for contemporary art is a good point -
there is big exibition of polish "critical art" from '90.
you can also find good bookstore there.
it's near the Lazienki Park - really nice now, melancholic and peaceful -
it's one of the main warsaw city's turist attraction. the old town is waste of time,
the center of the city is one big billboard - all buildings covered by city spam,
nothing to see there. you could maybe eat in one of our famous Bar Mleczny.
These are kind of communist-era relicts where you can eat cheap, typical polish food.
Mostly old and poor people eat there. You surely will not be poisoned.
This one is good - and near the CSW. Bar Mleczny prasowy http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h297/scarlatina/prasowy.jpg
address: Marszalkowska 10/16
Olympia bazar is good choice too.
Ah, and unfamous Palace of culture - communist monument-building. Interesting interiors:)
in tramways watch for your wallet - especially around the central station


ReplyThread Parent
porandojin
porandojin
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
Re: War saw

Calling the Old Town waste of time is quite much. It's one of the strangest urbanistic areas of the XXth century- 'architectural fantasy based on facts'. i don't remember who wrote it, but it may be seen as the first post-modernist project in Europe./I'm sorry for my English/


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
Re: War saw

You guys -- even when, especially when, you disagree -- are golden! Thank you, I shall be following a lot of this advice when I get to Warsaw!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 09:07 am (UTC)

Oh, great, I always wanted to see Joe live. I was already wondering who would be the support for Oorutaichi in Berlin since Midori Hirano played at his London concert already.


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rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
set at staalplaat and how to get in for sure

Hello fans and friends, if you are in berlin and want to see/hear/visit the set by momus, tomoko and seiji then it is best to make a reservation for it. Only 42 person can get in, and more then half of the seats are taken already ...write to binnen at staalplaat dot com and see if there will be any places left.


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rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
rinusvanalebeek
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 05:04 pm (UTC)
mailadres

binnen at staalplaat dot com


ReplyThread Parent
parchesss
Parches
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)

it's interesting how you just pointed out how we decorate these new, blank spaces with images of ourselves. I'm 20, and just two months ago I left home and moved north, far north, into a grim little unit in a student hall of residence. This is what's on my wall:

http://dnots.com/


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Nov. 17th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
velvet underground goldmine revolution

also,20th annv of rev in prague.that most bohemian of cities.


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guessbook.wordpress.com
guessbook.wordpress.com
Wed, Nov. 18th, 2009 09:44 am (UTC)
ricky D

I'm guessing your exposure to Kantor in Edinburgh - and your brushing shoulders with Beuys - was all thanks to Richard Demarco? I'd SO love a piece on him here, far as I am though from wanting to tell you what to write about! I love the fact that you were there when he was doing all that, and it feels in some way like the perfect last chance, while you're still writing, for an account of that time to be passed on, along with a portrait of that incredible, baffling, snapshot happy man!
,, Ant


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Nov. 18th, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
Re: ricky D

You're right about Demarco, he was / is a key Edinburgh figure, a one-man avant garde. I wrote my tribute to him here.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 18th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC)
Re: ricky D

I might have known! Thanks, years late. It's a great tribute.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Nov. 18th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Staalplaat

Sorry, don't take it the wrong way, we appreciated the evening and the space and your outfit and the water music and the circuit bending.

But we came back home still longing for a song.


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brigitte_godot
brigitte_godot
Thu, Nov. 26th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
Tranny?

Don't you know, Momus, that to transsexual and transgender people, the word "tranny" is as demeaning and insulting as "nigger", "fag", or fill-in-the-blank? Would have thought you of all people would think twice before using such derogatory terms. But even among the feted avant-gardistas, the tyranny of the traditional gender binary rules unquestioned.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Nov. 27th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
Re: Tranny?

Cupid, po and psych


ReplyThread Parent
brigitte_godot
brigitte_godot
Fri, Nov. 27th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
Re: Tranny?

So what is your point? Evading direct commentary (and evading admitting direct culpability) by passing me on to some ancient post commenting on some pseud's ivory tower blather on post-something or other drivel? I'm talking about the real world effect such terms have on the thousand and one genders that aren't clearly male or female, not intellectual mind games that torture sentences to wring the subtext out of the banal. This November 20 was Transgender Remembrance Day, honoring all those murdered for their lack of gender conformity. Tranny Day to you, mate. Sorry I missed your post on the subject, I was too bust mourning the dead.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Nov. 27th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC)
Re: Tranny?

My point is that I'm quite aware of the multiplicity of genders, but that I think there's an inherent flaw in PC identity politics, which is that fine-slicing personal identity definitions -- and investing ever more in angry, self-righteous policing of labels and etiquettes -- is six political steps backward. This isn't ivory tower at all, it's very practical. As I put it in Three conflicts described, describing a conflict between RWOCs and black feminists:

"Here, enacted before our very eyes, is exactly why oppositional politics tends to disintegrate into bitter internecine squabbling -- much to the delight of the bigots it should instead be attacking. These people need to get behind a common cause, and preferably one unrelated to the assertion of ever-more-baroque personal identity differences."

You might also want to consider whether, in insisting on the stigma of the word "tranny" to someone who dresses up as a woman quite frequently, you might not be trying to:

a) induce guilt in an ally
b) alienate an ally
c) split a united front against bigots
d) actually re-introduce stigma into the whole idea of transvestism

By insisting that your chosen form of description is the only legitimate one, and all others "contain disrespect" you walk a dangerous path.



Edited at 2009-11-27 08:02 am (UTC)


ReplyThread Parent