A Discursive Circus Maximus, Monday October 31st 2011, Architectural Association, London.
He disappeared into complete silence is an exhibition at De Hallen, Haarlem, Holland revolving around a series of parables written and drawn by Louise Bourgeois. At 3pm today (Sunday October 30th) I’ll be singing three songs at a salon performance event in the exhibition.
Here’s another Bourgeois parable: “Once a man was telling a story, it was a very good story too, and it made him very happy, but he told it so fast that nobody understood it.”
On the evening of Halloween, there´s a conversation at the Architectural Association in London centred on the theme of “careering” in which I sing a couple of songs and discuss career arcs with Shumon Basar, Victoria Camblin, Brian Dillon and Zak Kyes. Starts 8pm, open to non-students.
Photos of the Momus performance on Saturday October 22nd at Sa Possessio, Palma Mallorca, mostly taken during the songs Dracula (in which Hilary Donald played the victim) and Hypnoprism (in which the audience formed a human train).
Mallorca’s Cuevas del Drach (which I can’t help thinking of as “Dracula’s Cave”) is impressive. After you descend along a kilometre of paths through a calcified acid trip of grotesque, gothic stalactites and stalagmites, you reach an auditorium overlooking an underground lake. Presently the lights are extinguished and three ghostly ships lit by fairy lights emerge from behind rocky outcrops and drift past, casting reflections and emitting ghostly music, for on the first is a huddle of musicians playing delicate baroque music. A bit of a spine-tingler.
The Institute of Contemporary Arts has sold art and theory off the serious grey shelves in its lobby bookshop since the 1980s, when I used to come and lurk here, dizzied by the intellectual buzz and glamour. The ICA has a tumbleweed feel now; the bookshop staff are gone, along with the more ambitious curators and most of the buzz — victims, no doubt, of the institute’s 42% budget cut.
But if the ICA does turn out to be just another branch of Pret A Manger by the time of my next visit to London, at least I’ll know that before the big Tory axe fell and silenced its subversive avant-chatter forever, I did at least manage to repay my intellectual debt to the venerable institution by getting a title of mine onto its shelves — onto its packing-case picks display, in fact!
I was so pleased to see The Book of Japans at the ICA (next to a Bas Jan Ader picture book and Bombs, Buggery and Buddhism by Billy Childish) that I asked the manager to take my photo beside it. Next time I’m there the grey shelves will probably be gone and I’ll be eating a salmon, avocado and cress sandwich — but sadly.
Rather than the Islamic nation that the amplified calls to prayer might suggest, I began to see in Istanbul signs that Turkey is a land of many and varied mini-cults.
Here, for instance, are two evil eye symbols protecting a parking garage from… well, from “evil parking”, I suppose.
In the archeological museum I discovered this image of the Anatolian Earth Goddess Kubaba, otherwise known as Cybele, with two musicians (second half of the 6th century).
Everywhere you go in Turkey you see variations on this cultic image of Ataturk, moderniser, father of the nation, and, apparently, matinee idol.
This is the current prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Both Islamist and neoliberal, I’m told, he presides over a nation whose economy grew faster than China’s in 2011.
Seated figure of a goddess giving birth, supported by two leopards. Baked clay, head restored. 5750BC Museum of Anatolian Civilisation, Ankara.
Spotted at the Architectural Museum, here’s Bruno Taut, who died in Istanbul in 1938, becoming the only Jew to be buried in the city’s Martyr’s Graveyard. Taut follows me around, from Berlin to Japan (I first met him at Shirakawa-Go) and now Istanbul.
Another cult spotted at the Istanbul Biennial: the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, who fought in the Spanish War and drank himself to death at 40.
And finally, some giant white cats at a ruined temple by a waterfall. Feral cats are everywhere in Istanbul, scruffy little deities slinking under cars.