A series of videos from the Enemies project video library have been included in this extraordinary exhibition running at Southbank Centre in London, at the Saison Poetry Library. It includes my performance with Amanda de la Garza and a series of brilliant publishers, who make up the heart of the exhibition, with whom I've been working with for years. A must see, go visit it while you still can! (Photographs of the exhibition below generously provided by Pascal O'Loughlin)
Obviously a fair sized undertaking, with 24 poets from 19 countries, but a wonderful event to celebrate the first European Poetry Night. Very easy to work with Jon Slack and the folk at European Literature Festival, revamped for this year, and we managed to get around 150 people into Rich Mix on a balmy night. The great joy of balancing all this curatorial work, all the small details of travel, tech, order etc... is that I'm surrounded by friends from all over the world, from Billy Ramsell who drove me around Ireland, to Sasha Filyuta who introduced me to Berlin, from Alessandro Burbank who made me love the backstreets of Venice, to Efe Duyan who took me for a coffee in Istanbul before I'd published a book. And new friends made too, Niilaas Holmberg, who sang in Sami and Ulrike Ulrich, Swiss by way of Germany now in residence in London. It felt like a real collective effort, an example of community and collaboration at its best. Their performances were uniformly good and all complimented each other in their differences. http://www.theenemiesproject.com/epn
Working with Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir is an amazing experience. She is masterful - so funny, so innovative, a great improviser, and so much fun to play with. Both of us seek out strong concepts and have a certain sense of humour and really we achieved something on this night. I couldn't believe the audience would believe as they did in our concept, and we really ran hard into making them believe once we sensed their absolute awkward excruciating silence. A beautiful thing. I did feel a tiny bit guilty that some friends bought it too, but the notion of truthfulness has been such a concern of mine this year, this collaboration felt like the apex of that. I hope to work with her again and again into the future.
Two highlights of 2015, amazing performers and artists both Emma and Maja. So excited I get to do 7 more of these collaborations in 2016 with the help of the Hubbub group in residence at Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Library www.stevenfowler.com/soundings
The original EVP tour was a major turning point in my work with performance, being able to tour the UK with really wonderful artists like Hannah Silva and Ross Sutherland, and with the support of Nathan Jones and Tom Chivers (www.stevenjfowler.com/evp) When the opportunity to do a one off commission for the same project, at Shoreditch Town Hall, I had a clear thought to what I might do, melding both my original work for the project with a tradition I've had for three years now, being painted as a skeleton on or around the Mexican Day of the Dead. I first did so in Mexico City and try to do so every year in homage to my friends in Mexico, and because much of my work is about the symbology of death.
For this performance I was really lucky to have the amazingly generous artist and make up artist Amalie Russell paint my face professionally. I had then spent a few days covering a whole banquet of food in black paint and lacquer, and my performance, a fluxus meal of sorts, was to set the table and invite diners to join me. I waited outside the fire exit of the venue on a typically vapid Shoreditch saturday night and felt it appropriate to wait in the rain. The performance was accompanied by a track made in collaboration with the remarkable musician Alexander Kell, who did an incredible job mixing my reading of Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo, one of the authors I had discovered in Mexico.
"Electronic Voice Phenomena returns with a series of electrifying live sessions featuring the very best in hauntology, spoken word, glitch noise and performance. The EVP Sessions takes its inspiration from Konstantin Raudive’s notorious Breakthrough experiments of the 1970s, in which he divined voices-from-beyond in electronic noise. Enter the labyrinthine basement of Shoreditch Town Hall and experience a “mind-boggling”, “perplexingly good” avant-garde cabaret of human, ghostly and machine voices. http://www.electronicvoicephenomena.net/index.php/shoreditch-town-hall-london/"
A really ambitious program curated by Chris McCabe and Victoria Bean, editors of the anthology the New Concrete, for the launch of the book at the Whitechapel Gallery on July 25th. Over three hours of kinetic poems and performances - screenings, readings and more. It was a really generous, communal atmosphere, good to see old friends and meet quite a few poets I have long admired but had yet to encounter in person.
I really wanted to follow my more conceptual performances at Tate Modern and Cafe Oto recently with something similarly performative and distinct, and thoughts of how one might perform a concrete poem led my to Lego. I had only the specifics of the ideas on the morning of the performance, so after rushing to a Lego shop and dropping more money than Id thought Id need to on the bricks, I had only one chance to practise making the letters, in a coffee shop next to the gallery itself. In the end, it went nicely, I managed to stay within the 4 minute limit.
I am so so happy to announce a new project, co-curated with Lotje Sodderland and Thomas Duggan, called a World without Words. www.theenemiesproject.com/aworldwithoutwords
A World Without Words is an exploration of how aphasia effects our fundamental understanding of human language, how it interrogates our static notions of meaning in this language and how it calls into question the very character of self-knowledge. Through a program of exhibitions, newly commissioned artworks, poetry and sound performances, and talks that explore the nature of human language to illuminate this profound investigation of the human brain, a World without Words will bring together some of the most dynamic scientists and artists working in 21st century London.
A World Without Words marks a pivotal moment when breakthroughs in neuroscience mean there is greater understanding of those who possess atypical language function. Today, aphasia is more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, as over 250,000 people in the United Kingdom alone live with the condition. Yet in spite of its high incidence, aphasia remains a hidden disability.
Language is considered perhaps the most characteristic ability of the human species, a World without Words aims to be on the frontline of our social, aesthetic, creative and experiental understanding of this ability, working back through aphasia and into the potential of the human mind.
A World Without Words invites audiences to explore the nature of human language, offering a fascinating and playful exploration of how words form our world. The project presents a unique opportunity to explore how loss of language impacts on losing internal definitions of "self" in relation to everything "other" in the external world, while breaking apart assumptions of how we wield language to express ourselves.
a World without Words has emanated from the experiences of Lotje Sodderland, ably documented in this article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/22/it-felt-as-if-i-had-become-fear-itself-life-after-a-stroke-at-34
The first event will be held on May 6th at Apiary Studios http://www.apiarystudios.org/
with contributions from Lotje Sodderland = Malinda MacPherson - Noah Hutton - Ben Ehrlich - Harry Man & more.
The Liverpool Camarade event on Feb 18th 2015 will also serve as the launch for my new collaborative publication, 1000 Proverbs, written with the brilliant Tom Jenks and published by Knives Forks & Spoons press. I've been excited about this for a very long time. Tom and I have read from the work on multiple occasions and every time people seem to enjoy it. It is because he is talented and funny.
Soon the book will be available here: http://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/
& you can see some of the many times Tom & I have shared our proverbial wisdom over the last few years here:
The cover is by the artist Theo Kaccoufa.