Channeling neurosis into haunting dance beats, Autre Ne Veut’s newest release Anxiety helps bring us all in on the healing process.
Autre Ne Veut (the brainchild of Brooklyn based artist Arthur Ashin) is an amalgam of sounds, a pastiche of both beats and emotions. Its mastermind and uber mixmasterologist wafts between krautrock and the kind of unique blend of self-deprecation and faux bravado that’s come to characterize much of the more ground-breaking forms of R&B. In short, Autre Ne Veut escapes definition. With a popularity that has soared to astounding heights this year, recent world tours, a growing and loyal base, and the approval of esteemed music outlets like Pitchfork, 2013 is truly looking to be Ashin’s year. Energetic, enigmatic, and tinged with the outlines of a sinister force propelling his heavy loops and falsetto-inflected vocals, you’d expect Ashin to be something of an elusive mad man. Rather, he is a down-to earth New Yorker with a background in psychology, who uses his innate intellectualism and perceptivity to zone in on emotions we’d rather forget: anxiety, fear, depression, and turns them into something that connects his work to the entire human experience.
Laura Feinstein I hadn’t realized your family was from Kenya. How do you think this multi-cultural aspect of your background has affected your music?
Arthur Ashin Saying my family is from Kenya is a bit of an overstatement. My mom spent a number of years the Peace Corps and my dad had been out in the Kakamega district for years before that, teaching at and running secondary schools. I was actually born in the United States, though. The biggest creative impact that it had on me is that my parents listened to African music while I was growing up (King Sunny Ade, Ladysmith Black Mambazo) and obviously Graceland was a big player. But really, the music that they listened to was filtered through a sort of Kenyan lens. That’s what trickled down to me, and as with many things that we grow up with, it created an implicit foundation for my musical tastes as well as my internal melodic and rhythmic sensibilities.
Mia Engberg discusses her latest film, Belleville Baby, and trusting the filmmaking process.
Swedish filmmaker Mia Engberg’s elegiac and mystical film, Belleville Baby explores themes of personal memory and time as she recounts a passionate love story of her youth with a young French criminal. Using the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as a launching point, she tells the story of the man she lost to the underworld, realizing when he calls eight years later that he has been in prison all this time. Using only voices and ambient sounds, a Super 8 camera and a mobile phone, Engberg refracts a re-telling of their encounter through the prism of the woman she is now. Like Pietro Marcello’s La bocca del lupo and Chris Marker’s classic Sans Soleil, Engberg creates a bespoke world of sound and vision from her fertile imagination, a cinematic evocation of a mythical archetype, and an excavation of memory from sources both real and imagined.
Engberg spoke to me from her home in Stockholm where she lives with her husband and two children and teaches and mentors graduate documentary film students at the Swedish Film Academy. Belleville Baby, her twelfth film, will have its cinema premiere in Sweden at the end of this summer in the midst of a robust international festival tour including the Viennale and CPH:DOX in the autumn. It will have its Balkan regional premiere in Kosovo at Dokufest this summer, as well as exhibition dates in the US at Seattle International Film Festival and Rooftop Films in New York.
Pamela Cohn I am madly in love with your film. (laughter) I also view it as yet another example of how narrative in filmmaking is changing. Nonfiction, especially, seems to be undergoing significant sea changes. The intimate, personal stories are the ones that seem to be resonating the most, not just for festival programmers, but for audiences as well. Films that deal with memory and re-vitalizing the past through a cinematic tale.
Mia Engberg I’ve been teaching documentary for almost 15 years, as well as making documentary films for that amount of time. More and more, we see new people coming into the business, which creates more points of view than ever before. When I started, I got the impression that it was only middle-aged, white, heterosexual men who made documentaries on things like war and history and economy. (laughter) There was a classical tradition of storytelling. Now you have all of these communities—gay, feminist, young people, people from the suburbs. There are so many new voices telling their stories.
Jon Imber’s latest paintings capture the energy and vitality of the botanic cosmos.
In the last ten years, Jon Imber’s paintings have taken on a new dynamism, a freshness, and a remarkable proliferation of color. To see paintings like Lantern in the Snow, Stonington Harbor, and Spring Totems together is to witness the thrill of a master rising to a challenge, letting it open and change him. These paintings display the selflessness of mastery: the cultivated willingness to step out of the way and hold an image as it develops, joyfully and calmly.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read three stories by James Yeh with art by Dominic Fortunato, selected by Peter Moysaenko and Daniel Moysaenko.
I’m giving my parents the tour. My tiny bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen. My mother is walking around the living room, examining the cheap furniture, peering out the grime-covered window that overlooks a poorly lit alley between my building and the building across from it. Her face looks worried.
Jem, she says. Your apartment make your mother want to cry.
Aw, it’s not that bad, I say.
My father sits down on the couch and begins flipping through the old magazines crowded on the coffee table. He goes from cover to cover without really looking at anything, then tosses it back in the pile.
Chelsea Knight on performing motherhood and marriage in her new video The Breath We Took and why “write what you know” is limiting advice.
I first met Chelsea Knight last year at the cheekily-named Bushwick Basel during the Bushwick Open Studios weekend. She was one of the featured artists, and I was an intern helping to man the booth. During the sweltering hours we spent together last June, I was impressed by Chelsea’s political savvy, feminist views and highly original video art. So impressed, in fact, that almost a year later I asked her to be my first interview as BOMBlog’s Art Editor. We sat down in her Liberty Plaza studio to discuss her newest work, The Breath We Took (showing through June 1 at Aspect Ratio Projects in Chicago). It is a partially fictional yet deeply personal documentary featuring four generations of Knight women (both real and imagined), and explores the ways in which we perform motherhood, marriage, and confront femininity.
Sophie Buonomo Where was the original idea for this piece and for performing motherhood?
Chelsea Knight Good question. I always work with people who are authentic to their given field. I’m not interested in direct documentary, I’m interested in the way people perform their lives, professions and emotional selves. Performance is not necessarily a construction but there is a frame for it, there’s a front. Things don’t flow from humans 100 percent naturally all the time. I wanted to make a piece that was partially documentary and partially fiction to talk about that—because non-actors are so much more convincing than actors with certain subject matter. Sometimes you need an actor if you’re remaking another work—I remade Antigone last year—and we needed actors for that.
But generally I like extracting specific kinds of truths from people based on their actual experience. But I want to undercut it with these notions of performance by adding in literally overproduced or theatrical or fictional elements.
Paper Clip is a weekly compilation of online articles, artifacts and other—old, new, and sometimes BOMB-related.
Milka Djordjevich on repetition, transformation, and abstracting everyday movement.
Milka Djordjevich has always been somewhat of a shooting star to me. Our paths have crossed many times over the years, with overlapping circles of friends, collaborators, and colleagues. I witnessed her finesse as a curator at the Movement Research Spring Festival 2008: Somewhere Out There, when I made a brief visit as a guest teacher and artist. I remember that over a dinner during the festival, Milka turned to her then fellow curator, Chris Peck, and started a conversation with him about how dance and music could be composed at the same time by both the choreographer and composer. That conversation was the seed for what became An Evening with Djordjevich and Peck at The Chocolate Factory Theater in 2009. Hearing of the continuing success of their project, as their collaboration took them to the Whitney Biennial in 2010, Milka stayed on my radar.
It wasn’t until January of 2012 that we met again, this time at the Movement Research office. She was there, along with Lydia Bell, to hand off the annual cycle of the co-editorial position of Critical Correspondence to me. At the meeting we briefly discussed her move to California, and I exchanged some reflections with her on the experience of living and making work in other cities and communities. It seemed like this was what we were fated to do, to work in tandem without ever seeing of one another exactly what brought us to New York in the first place—being artists and performers.
I was ecstatic that finally, in 2013, five years since meeting Milka and knowing, albeit remotely, of her conceptual and relentless work, I was going to get to see her perform. I felt extra lucky that I would see her perform a solo. Kinetic Makeover, which premiered at the Chocolate Factory Theater this April, was a trance-inducing, morphing, highly-driven performance that left me stunned. I immediately felt the need to ask her questions, artist-to-artist, and probe further into her choreographic process. How was she able to carry out one gesture past the point of exhaustion until it became something else? What does it mean when a dance is made to become a collection of images? How can a body be an object, but not be objectified? We sat down together for a lengthy discussion of her relationship to her body, her previous dance training, and the evolution of repetition toward a greater consciousness of and possibility for performance.
Marissa Perel I thought of your solo as one continuous piece—how did you come to make decisions about the transitions from one set of movement phrases to another?
Lauri Stallings discusses her dance company gloATL and why it’s crucial to export contemporary art from Atlanta.
If you live in Atlanta, chances are you’ve encountered the work of Lauri Stallings. There aren’t many contemporary choreographers, or many cities, one could say this about—a testament to the complicated, synergistic, multi-platform relationship that Stallings has with Atlanta.
Stallings first began choreographing work late in her career as a dancer with Ballet BC and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. After a three-year stint as choreographer-in-residence at the Atlanta Ballet, Stallings remained in Atlanta where she founded the company gloATL in 2009. Through the company’s numerous public performances, Stallings has sought to engage the city in all of its aspects—its most central, trafficked and familiar places as well as its tucked away, odd, and hidden pockets. Whether in a busy shopping mall, an empty public pool, the High Museum’s central plaza, or an odd drainage gulley of Piedmont Park, Stallings’ work utilizes an intriguing gestural and visual language that encompasses everything from the erotic and the absurd to the grotesque and the unabashedly beautiful, drawing in an ever-widening circle of viewers, participants, and collaborators.
Andrew Alexander How does new work begin for you? I imagine it’s somewhat different each time, but is there some way to generalize?
Lauri Stallings There’s something that I sort of allow to happen. I guess the best word would be ‘intuition.’ Surprisingly, it’s a mindful one: It’s mental. I’m not saying I’m always aware of it, but it is something that happens. I never know when, but it is prior to getting in the studio, the literal process of generating material as a choreographer. The consistent thing is: I’m always surprised at what comes to me first. That’s what can’t be generalized. But intuition is the one thing I don’t second-guess, and I think that comes from my parents. They kept telling us over and over again, “All you have are your instincts.” I’m very grateful they kept telling me that.
Katie Peyton on the satisfying artifacts of truth in Kristopher Jansma’s The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards.
When asked if we want to know the truth about something, most of us would say yes. We consider the truth to be the morally superior choice and the choice of the strong. Information, after all, is power. We want things represented accurately, researched thoroughly, precisely described.
But what does it mean to seek the truth? To describe something fully, with the closest possible accuracy, or to aim for a digestible reality without too many confusing details—more of a single bite? Does our conditioning render it impossible to experience the same thing twice? And what about those who believe the truth cannot reached by verisimilitude, who strive continually to create something new in order to obliquely approach what really happened?
When I graduated college, those questions were on my mind as my father delivered his parting advice. Like many fathers before him, he quoted Polonius in Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.” But my father was an engineer, not an English major. He believed in a less heady version of reality. A builder with a mathematical mind, he did not invert word order or say things that were vague or archaic. Did my father really just quote Shakespeare?
I think he meant, “Remember where you come from.” It was funny because at the time, I was in the process of moving as far away from home as possible. I didn’t really know much about New York, but I knew one thing I liked: it was not located in the state of Georgia. Going away, I was hoping to find a better version of myself. Perhaps I was already out there somewhere, twinned and perfected on the corner of 5th and Bowery, a parallel life waiting to be lived.
When I picked up The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, Kristopher Jansma’s debut novel, I was hooked by the introduction, which takes place in an airport and concludes with these words:
Each of these stories are true, but only somewhere else.
Word Choice features original works of fiction and poetry. Read a poem by Ben Mirov with art by Bruce Mackay, selected by Daniel Moysaenko.
The View from My Cube Looks Out on Endless Static
They have begun collecting the most serious writers of
They put them in cube after cube to bolster their
I’m like that too. I use my mouth to talk about the cube.
I bleed money. I bleed a stream of money. My crystal lies.
My static and my lies.
They have begun collecting the most serious writers of
They have begun to use their mouths to make some
I do that too, I’ll tell you right now, I spend most of my
time in the cube.
I don’t care, I bleed money. A steady stream of money
from my mouth.
The idea of money makes me high, you know what
And if it turned out some other way than you expected, I
suggest you make some money.
I suggest you make a sound and make some money.
I suggest you find a way to push your money through your