Enemies Berlin - Feinde with Alessandra Eramo performed at Wortwedding

The first of the Enemies projects to venture outside of the UK, Feinde was a conceptual installation and a performance collaboration between Alessandra Eramo and myself. The work took many forms and was a long while in preparation - we met at the Liverpool Biennial 2012, hosted by Mercy's one day Electronic Voice Phenomena symposium, thanks to Nathan Jones. We began a collaborative correspondence of some intensity, and when Alessandra was offered a residency at the remarkable Wortwedding project http://wortwedding.blogspot.co.uk/, she invited me to go to Berlin to produce something that explored what we had been discussing - notions of performative ritual, martial physicality, personal historicity and collaborative conceptuality. We wanted to use different mediums, certainly I'm always keen to learn and expand my practise, so we decided to produce a video installation alongside a performance, and what turned out to be much more than that in fact. 

After spending a week or so in Berlin, I wrote a poem I called Eight Lessons at Wortwedding. It's intention was to be purely reflective to the environment I found myself in, but, as I often do, to use irony, humour and disjunction in syntax to create occlusion in the text. WS Graham was a huge influence on the piece, and it grew into a fat beast of a poem, which again was an intention - I knew I'd be performing it in English and I knew my performance style was one of deluge - so I hoped to swarm the audience in so much Second language that as the performance went on, the abstract sound and voice work Alessandra would be producing would actually become the more concise and sensitive and sensible medium that they could experience. I knew our performance would be by its very nature be muddled (because of our contrasting styles and aesthetics, and because of the short time we had to create it) and a sort of cacophony (because of the three mediums in play - voice, dance, video), so my hope was to accelerate that confusion, to inculcate it. 

Poetry and sound / song / voice doesn't sit well together, and so I wanted to emphasise that, just as the languages of English and Italian / German cannot sit snugly, I wanted to admit that lack from the beginning. Just as our performance utilised an exchange of martial arts exercises (a dance, in fact, a first for me) to begin, so I thought this would be a little bit silly, and hoped for that, because I thought Alessandra and I's physical stature would provide a slightly unsettling aesthetic contrast to the expectation of the performance. While we performed the video installations were also projected behind us. The hope was for the poem, which referred to the very specific happening of the poem often, and to the city in which happening in, to open up into a space which allowed Alessandra to be bold and free with her improvised soundwork. Here is the video of the premiere performance:And here is Our Daily Rituals, the video installation we created, unexpurgated. It's concept was one minute of our daily lives, filmed in the 16 days leading up to my time in Berlin, filmed at the same time of day each day .I think the strength of this exchange is its juxtaposition of aesthetics - that mine is quite offhand, and I hope, ironic and funny and weird, where as Alessandra's is graceful and tailored and artistic. Lobster, monkey slippers and co. are my daily rituals. Also, behind the scenes of our preparations, here are two videos of us prepping and rehearsing for the performance: 

After the performance and my return to London, the work from our collaboration remained on exhibition for the Kolonie Wedding route, a kind of roadmap through the traditionally working class area of Wedding in Berlin that navigates different galleries, performances and artworks. Alessandra and Nicola were on hand to discuss the piece and my poems were hung on the walls of the Wortwedding space. Nicola even reread my First Lesson to those in attendance. 
The collaborative exchange is something I have wholly embraced over the last year or two for the Enemies project and my experimentations with performance and form. It is never easy when you don't have a pre-existing personal relationship with your collaborator, one in which aesthetics, and vitally, humour, is pre-established within your working relationship. It was precisely the boundaries of city / language / nationality / medium / aesthetics / physicality that Alessandra and I did not share that attracted me to this exchange and so it proved to be amazingly beneficial for my own understanding and creative enterprise. It was precisely in our differences that interesting space was opened up, and Alessandra is a erudite, powerful and brilliant artist who brings so much to the process of collaboration which was valuable and interesting. Though not always comfortable, the Feinde work was engaging and that's all that matters. Moreover, my time is Berlin was inspirational, and to link projects like Wortwedding, Corvo records, Enemies, Mercy and so forth, is the kind of work that needs doing, and the reason why Enemies was created in the first place. http://www.weareenemies.com/enemiesberlin.html
my Eight Lessons at Wortwedding being read