It's the first time I've ever performed at Cafe Oto, though I have attended shows there often. It was really pleasing to do so with Ben Morris, whose practise has been extremely influential to my own for many years. When we met, and still to this day, his understanding and control of his medium is far more advanced than my own, due to both his sense of patience, subtlety and experience, and he has been generous in offering me a new avenue into sonic conceptualism, an organic offshoot from my own work in avant garde poetry.
It was also a great pleasure to perform for Mercy. Nathan Jones is one of a few remarkable figures in poetry and sonic art I am fortunate enough to call my contemporary who is genuinely enthused by complex and intense performance, and who will do the hard work it takes to get that performance a proper stage and reception. He feels a stringent sense of responsibility to promote the work of others and this kind of selflessness is integral to the building of a scene of dynamic poetry and sound performance. I know I speak for Ben when I say to have the opportunity to work with Mercy producing these new commissions is a privilege.
The evening was a really engaging but sadly I was ill and not really able to comprehend properly what was going on around me. I had been dragging some sick around for awhile and then rehearsing for this piece, in the mask, which really boiled me, a few days ago in a tiny studio under a railway bridge in Bermondsey, it really sent me over the edge. We nearly had to cancel the performance in fact, I had been yakking two days up to this night and had stomach cramps and sweats even on the way over to Dalston
In the end, the performance was something I am pleased with, of course never wholly, but conceptually. I had really hoped it would explore avenues of delirium, confusion, kineticism - that it would not just be about violence and force, as some of my other pieces have been. I deliberately made the format of my punching non combative, so I stood still, used 'James Toney' type hands, with sloppy angles and no power form, and would emphasise my breathing and noise and would create motion blurs, using speed, rather than some dumb platform for the force of my punching.
It was gratifying to find an offshoot of my thematic interests, where energy and intensity are fundamental but do not become intimidating, and it was really pleasing that many were kind enough to say they did not experience repulsion but confusion and intrigue. The piece was found strange rather than aggressive I think, and it will be a memory for me, it was torture in the mask, I felt so ill!
The piece is called "We're getting married tomorrow" and is described as "A piece of conceptual sonic art in collaboration that explores notions of exhaustion, suffocation, exertion & kineticism, drawing together a specific mode of bodily, as well as vocal, experimental expression and innovative performance."
Massive thanks to Alexander Kell, who held the pads for me and is a loyal friend and great training partner, to David Kelly, Tiphaine Mancaux and Catherine Carncross who came to support and film and photo, and of course Nathan and Ben. I have a good feeling more work will emerge from this relationship.