Next Year's Models, 2009
X Initiative, New York
Organized with Brian Gempp

Until the economic boom of the 1990s, the New York artworld and the downtown music scene(s) maintained a loose but vital connection. The 1981 Noise Fest at White Columns, a nine-day run of music that engaged bohemianism, urbanism, as well as Conceptual art and Fluxus, epitomized the symbiotic relationship that has existed between music and art. This was a period prior to the dominance of the M.F.A., when art practices had yet to be cordoned-off or professionalized. In the wake of the economic recession and New York’s near bankruptcy in the 1970s, musicians and artists responded collaboratively, seeking links between media and finding new aesthetic possibilities in response to a changing cultural landscape.
By the late 1990s, however, these interrelations had become less immediate. With the rising cost of real estate and the migration of galleries from mixed residential, industrial, and commercial neighborhoods to a single epicenter, the divide between the artworld and downtown music widened. Though today one might encounter music in New York’s commercial gallery system, these instances often owe more to performance art or the historicizing of recent innovators than to a thorough consideration of contemporary practices. Moreover, musicians who incorporate theories and methods from the visual arts into their projects frequently find their performances relegated to peripatetic venues and constantly shifting economies outside gallery culture.
Next Year’s Models aims to consider the inter-relations and networks of influence between music and art in the hope that new connections might again emerge. In three nights of music and film grouped into four divergent models, Next Year’s Models explores a range of themes, including boredom as provocation, urban decline and its attendant artistic response, and the counter-cultural/ alternative communities that rise up against hegemony.

JULY 23RD, 2009
MICHAEL SNOW’S Wavelength, 1967, 16mm, color, sound, 45 min.
HOLLIS FRAMPTON’S Snowblind, 1968, 16mm, b/w, silent, 5:30 min
1976, 16mm, b/w, silent, 10 min loop
HOLLIS FRAMPTON’S Artificial Light, 1969, 16mm, b/w, silent, 25 min

SAMARA LUBELSKI AND MARCIA BASSETT each incorporate elements of free improvisation and noise in their work, while maintaining the delicate experimental sensibilities characteristic of Minimalism, Psychedelia and Folk. Lubelski is best known as a solo artist with four full-length releases, but she has also been involved in various art-music provocations, most notably with Salmon Skin (who performed an anti-art intervention at the 1995 Whitney Biennial inside Rikrit Tiravanija’s installation), Hall of Fame, Tower Recordings, as a member of Thurston Moore’s band, and in her associations with the German collective Metabolismus. Bassett has performed in assorted and acclaimed experimental music projects over the last fifteen-years, including Un, GHQ, Hototogisu, Double Leopards and Zaimph. Lubelski and Bassett’s performance is preceded by MICHAEL SNOW’S WAVELENGTH (1967), which takes place inside an urban loft and features the artist’s friends and colleagues performing scenes through the course of several days and nights. Recorded using a slow-moving zoom shot, Wavelength’s backdrop—including glimpses of the street outside of the loft’s windows—offers a socio-economic frame through which to read this primarily formal meditation on cinematic practice and visuality. Culminating in the camera’s focus on an image of waves pinned to the wall of the room, Wavelength complements Lubelski and Bassett’s interest in the limits and expressivity of their instruments, and the aleatory techniques and open structures that guide their practice. The film’s use of a community of peers in an urban environment also engage the network of relationships among this evening’s performers.

TOM CARTER’S solo-guitar compositions are typically associated with modal folk, drone and the legacy of Psychedelia, but his playing also engages the highly hermetic West coast iconographies of artists like Kenneth Anger and Bruce Connor. Best known for his involvement in Charlambides (with Christina Carter) and Badgerlore, in recent years Carter has increasingly concentrated on solo work. Carter’s performance accompanies WALLACE BERMAN’S ALEPH (1976), a short film loop focusing on an array of themes including death, mysticism, pop culture and art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Aleph offers a glimpse into Berman’s artistic practice and social circle through an assemblage of flickering snapshots and momentary flashes of imagery that underlines Carter’s own lyrical guitar lines.

HOLLIS FRAMPTON’S ARTIFICIAL LIGHT (1969) and SNOWBLIND (1968) accompany tonight’s performances. A close friend of Snow, Frampton appears in Snow’s Wavelength, and collaborated with him on Snowblind, a film that documents, through changing light and evolving time, Snow’s sculpture, Blind (1968). Artificial Light is a work that rigorously adheres to structural and formal logic through the application of various abstract interventions on top of a domestic scene that provides a counterpoint to Berman’s exoticism.

JULY 30TH, 2009
CHRIS MARKER’S Bestiary, 1985-90, color, sound
Cat Listening to Music (2:47 min), An Owl is an Owl is an Owl (3:18 min), Zoo Piece (2:42 min) Bullfight in Okinawa (4:10 min), Slon Tango (4:09 min)
KEN JACOBS’ Disorient Express, 1996, b/w, silent, 30 min
CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN’S Carl Ruggles Christmas Breakfast 1963, 2007, color, sound, 9:04
BIRD SHOW w/ Koen Holtkampf

COMMON EIDER, KING EIDER work within the traditions of outsider art and musical primitivism, but musicians Rob Fisk and George Chen are also well-versed in the vocabularies of long duration, which in this project draws attention to the constitutive elements of sound. Fisk’s delicate and linear viola, alongside pre-recorded noise and falsetto singing, allude to the natural and the manmade, a quality that carries over into his visual art and lifestyle, which moves between urban environments and remote Alaska. Fisk was a founding member of Deerhoof and, more recently, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle—two projects that similarly aimed to deconstruct music, exploring a pure tonal materiality as a means to a more emotional and subjective end. Chen has been an active member of San Francisco’s punk, experimental, and political scenes for twenty years. Common Eider, King Eider’s performance follows CHRIS MARKER’S, BESTIARY (1985-90), which brings together five short films that feature scenes involving human relationships with animals, figures from “nature” that appear to resist being subsumed or anthropomorphicized completely. KEN JACOBS’ DISORIENT EXPRESS (1996), will be screened in conjunction with Common Eider, King Eider’s performance. Disorient Express is a work that creates a kind of parallel reality constituted from elements specific to the filmic medium. This reality takes as its point of departure the traditional cinematic motif of the moving locomotive, in this case a train trip through mountainous terrain. Though the documentary footage is entirely found (originally shot in 1906), the treatment of the footage reveals a landscape kaleidoscopically expanding and collapsing as if from the interiors of the mind. This psychologically dense treatment is echoed in Common Eider, King Eider’s music, which builds upon looped sound sources, pre-recorded elements, and live instrumentation.

BIRD SHOW revolves around musician and composer, Ben Vida, who has worked in an array of styles over the last decade, ranging from incantory vocal chants, to free improvisation, to musique concrete. Vida was a founding member of the minimalist chamber project, Town and Country, and more recently the rock band Singer. In its most recent work, Bird Show draws upon post-war electronic music, most notably Stockhausen, Kagel and Ligeti, synth-based compositions that invoke what Stockhausen characterized as music for the Post-Apocalypse, where the musician’s hand appears displaced in favor of certain structural limits associated with one’s medium.

Bird Show’s performance accompanies a screening of CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN’S CARL RUGGLES CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST 1963 (2007). In this short film, Schneemann presents a late-life portrait of the American composer as told through a lively conversation at Ruggles’ breakfast table. The film is overlaid with abstract forms painted directly on the celluloid. Ruggles is known for rigorous atonal and non-serial compositions and the film pays tribute to him as one of Schneemann’s influences, especially in the development of her own practice of incorporating psychologically-charged subject matter within formal structure. Bird Show’s more recent synth-based works explore similar conceptual and structural components in combination with an emotional inflection that approaches beautiful and evocative ends.

AUGUST 6TH, 2009
MANFRED KIRCHHEIMER’S Stations of the Elevated, 1980, color, sound, 45 min
BRUCE NAUMAN’S Stamping in the Studio, 1968, b/w, sound, 62 min
1976, color, silent, Super 8 film on video, 15 min

THESE ARE POWERS celebrate an unbridled urbanism in their music, a sound that references, in equal part, the traditions of Hip Hop, Noise, and Dance. In so doing, These Are Powers have developed a uniquely metropolitan sensibility that combines prepared bass guitar and electroacoustic percussion with the provocative lyricism of contemporary Dance music. During performances, the band is known for opening up space for physical engagement with sound. These Are Powers’ performance is preceded by MANFRED KIRCHHEIMER’S STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED (1980), a work that provides an early documentation of economic depression and its effects on an urban landscape. Stations of the Elevated, which features a soundtrack by Charles Mingus, captures the graffiti that began covering New York City’s subway trains and buildings in the late 1970s. With poetic, slow-moving shots of elevated trains camouflaged by color-filled graffiti rolling through the desolate, often burned-out and boarded-up neighborhoods, the film documents the rise of an art form that both embodies and rejects urban decline.

BRUCE NAUMAN’S STAMPING IN THE STUDIO (1968) and GORDON MATTA-CLARK’S CITY SLIVERS (1976) accompany These Are Powers’ performance. With only his body, the space surrounding him and the objects that happened to be in his studio, Nauman’s early films suggest how various mundane activities provide a means of filling studio time. In so doing, Nauman’s work articulates an aesthetic approach to boredom and futility, and the economic limitations many artists face in developing their practices. Narrowing the viewer’s field of vision by blacking out sections of a pictorial space, Matta-Clark’s City Slivers locates “slivers” from within the cityscape, poetically capturing his lifelong love for New York and his work’s engagement with the architectural structures of the city that inform and shape daily life.