Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine


“Launched from the Lower East Side, Manhattan, in 1983 as a subscription only bimonthly publication, the Tellus cassette series took full advantage of the popular cassette medium to promote cutting-edge downtown music, documenting the New York scene and advancing experimental composers of the time – the first 2 issues being devoted to NY artists from the downtown no wave scene. The series was financially supported along the years by funding from the New York State Council of the Arts, Colab and the National Endowment for the Arts. Tellus publishers – visual artist and noise music composer Joseph Nechvatal, curator, former director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and current director of The Jewish Museum (New York) Claudia Gould and new music composer Carol Parkinson, director of Harvestworks from 1987 on – never considered running an underground culture audio publication, rather envisaging the compact cassette medium as a no wave fluxus art form in itself. This was quite a unique point of view at a time (the early 1980s), when many self-released cassettes blossomed through mail order and trade between audio artists, mail art folks and hardcore punk bands who were promoting a mostly minimalism punk inspired DIY technique of more-or-less anti-art nihilism. But Nechvatal and Parkinson had met in the mid-1970s dancing as a performance art / minimal art dance trio (with Cid Collins) influenced by the post Merce Cunningham postmodern dance/choreography of Lucinda Childs, Deborah Hay, Yvonne Rainer and Carolee Schneemann (with whom they toured Europe in 1978). And they continued to see each other in the art music milieu of the rigorous downtown minimal music scene as they worked for the Dia Art Foundation as assistants to La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Pandit Pran Nath. So by contrast to a lax attitude, the Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine never indulged in rank amateurism. Their audio releases were always tightly focused, well researched and aptly curated. …”
Wikipedia
UbuWeb: TELLUS CASSETTOGRAPHY (Audio)
Continuo: Tellus cassettography

Einstein on the Beach – Composed Philip Glass / Directed Robert Wilson (1976)


Einstein on the Beach is an opera in four acts (framed and connected by five ‘knee plays’ or intermezzos), composed by Philip Glass and directed by theatrical producer Robert Wilson. The opera eschews traditional narrative in favor of a formalist approach based on structured spaces laid out by Wilson in a series of storyboards. The music was written ‘in the spring, summer and fall of 1975’. Glass recounts the collaborative process: ‘I put [Wilson’s notebook of sketches] on the piano and composed each section like a portrait of the drawing before me. The score was begun in the spring of 1975 and completed by the following November, and those drawings were before me all the time.’ The premiere took place on July 25, 1976, at the Avignon Festival in France. The opera contains writings by Christopher Knowles, Samuel M. Johnson and Lucinda Childs. It is Glass’s first and longest opera score, taking approximately five hours in full performance without intermission; given the length, the audience is permitted to enter and leave as desired. … From the beginning of Glass and Wilson’s collaboration, they insisted on portraying the icon purely as a historical figure, in the absence of a storyline attached to his image. While they did incorporate symbols from Einstein’s life within the opera’s scenery, characters, and music, they intentionally chose not to give the opera a specific plot. This is in accord with Wilson’s formalist approach, which he asserts creates more truth on stage than naturalist theater. Wilson structured Einstein on the Beach as a repeating sequence of three different kinds of space. Between major acts are shorter entr’actes known as ‘knee plays,’ a signature technique that Wilson has applied throughout his oeuvre. Propelling idea of ‘non-plot’ within Einstein on the Beach, its libretto employs solfège syllables, numbers, and short sections of poetry. …”
Wikipedia
The Method and Madness of ‘Einstein on the Beach’
iTunes
NPR: The Minds Behind ‘Einstein On The Beach’ Talk Shop (Video)
UbuWeb: Einstein on the Beach: The Changing Image of Opera (Video)
THE EARTH MOVES. A documentary about Einstein on the Beach. (Video)
YouTube: Einstein on the Beach 4:36:23
YouTube: Philip Glass Ensemble “Train/Spaceship” part 1, “Train/Spaceship” part 2

The Mudd Club


Anita Sarko DJ-ing at the Mudd Club, ca. 1980.
The Mudd Club was a nightclub in the TriBeCa area of New York City, USA, that operated from 1978 to 1983 as a venue for underground music and counterculture events. It was located at 77 White Street in downtown Manhattan and was opened by Steve Mass, art curator Diego Cortez and downtown punk scene figure Anya Phillips. The Mudd Club was named after Samuel Alexander Mudd, a doctor who treated John Wilkes Booth in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln‘s assassination. It closed in New York in 1983. In order to secure the space for the Mudd Club (a loft owned by artist Ross Bleckner), Steve Mass described the future venue as cabaret. Mass claimed to have started the nightclub on a budget of only $15,000. The club featured a bar, gender-neutral bathrooms and a rotating gallery curated by Keith Haring on the fourth floor. Live performances included new wave, experimental music, literary icons Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, and catwalk exhibitions for emerging fashion designers Anna Sui and Jasper Conran. From the start it functioned as an ‘amazing antidote to the uptown glitz of Studio 54 in the ’70s’. As it became more frequented by downtown celebrities, a door policy was established and it acquired a chic, often elitist reputation. The Mudd Club was frequented by many of Manhattan’s up-and-coming cult celebrities. Other individuals associated with the venue included musicians Lou Reed, Johnny Thunders, David Byrne, Debbie Harry, Arto Lindsay, John Lurie, Nico with Jim Tisdall, Lydia Lunch, X, the Cramps, the B-52’s, the Bongos and Judas Priest; artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his then-girlfriend Madonna; performers Klaus Nomi and John Sex; designers Betsey Johnson, Maripol and Marisol; and underground filmmakers Amos Poe; Vincent Gallo, Kathy Acker, and Glenn O’Brien. …”
Wikipedia
NY Times: The Doorman at the Mudd Club Tells All
Basquiat’s world: Downtown NYC and the Mudd Club (Audio)
amazon: The Mudd Club

Black History Month: Post-Soul Culture Circa 1992


“… In the March 17, 1992, issue of the Voice, contributor Nelson George surveyed the ‘post-soul’ landscape and discovered that, ‘as a musical genre, a definition of African American culture, and the code word for our national identity, soul has pretty much been dead since Nixon’s reelection in 1972. But what’s replaced it? Arguing in these pages in 1986, Greg Tate tried to establish a ‘new black aesthetic’ as a defining concept. He had a point, though I’d argue there was more than one aesthetic at work. For better and worse, the spawn of the postsoul era display multiple personalities.’ Indeed, over seventeen pages George explores a broad spectrum of post-soul black aesthetics, and the Voice’s art department helped with diptychs comparing and contrasting Malcolm X to KRS-One and Muhammad Ali and Bundini Brown to Chuck D and Flavor Flav, as well as triptychs of Lisa Bonet and Magic Johnson. …”
Voice

Trisha Brown – Water Motor (1978)


“It was winter 1978 and Soho was still a quiet place mostly habited by artists who all knew each other and were far from imagining the commercial mecca that it is now. Walking in the street you met your friends. And it is what happened on that winter day when by accident I met Trisha in the street. She told me that she was working on a new solo and was very happy about it. I proposed to come and see it and she said: ‘Come anytime’s. I am doing it every day. Just call when you are ready’. In 1978 I was the semi official photographer of the Trisha Brown dance company and knew her dance vocabulary very well. I knew she was preparing new work for an evening at the Public Theater on Lafayette Street where she would be performing for the first time. I was looking forward to it. I always like to see what I am going to photograph before the actual photography session and avoid arriving at the dress rehearsal without preparation. So one day I went to scout Trisha’s solo at her loft, curious about the new work. She had named the solo Water Motor and it was short at about four minutes. I was stunned when I saw it. Not only was it absolutely thrilling but I also felt it was an enormous departure from the movement in her previous piece Locus. Somehow you could hardly see the movement (dance) because it just went too fast. It was totally new. …”
On the Making of Water Motor, a dance by Trisha Brown filmed by Babette Mangolte
Trisha Brown – Water Motor
ARTFORUM – YOU CAN STILL SEE HER: THE ART OF TRISHA BROWN
YouTube: Trisha Brown – “Watermotor”, by Babette Mangolte

Death, Destruction and Detroit – Robert Wilson (1979)


Death, Destruction and Detroit (DD&D) started with a photograph to which Robert Wilson was inexplicably attracted.  He kept it on his desk in New York and unknowing of what it depicted.  It was not until a studio visitor told him that the image featured Rudolf Hess in Berlin’s Spandau prison, with two other Nazi war criminals, half-heartedly and one-handedly raking leaves.  This rare photograph was reimagined as the prologue to DD&D, starring the famous German actor Otto Sander (1941-2013).  Other iconic scenes from DD&D include the actors Philippe Chemin and Heike Pfitzner, lounging in “Beach Chairs” (designed by Wilson) on a roof over New York City, while the city below is burning; and Hess (Sander) as Siegfried fighting two dinosaurs.”
Robert Wilson
LA Times: Apocalypse Is Here, and It’s Gorgeously Inviting

The Kitchen


The Kitchen is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary art and performance space located at 512 West 19th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in Greenwich Village in 1971 by Steina and Woody Vasulka, who were frustrated at the lack of an outlet for video art. The space takes its name from the original location, the kitchen of the Mercer Arts Center which was the only available place for the artists to screen their video pieces. Although first intended as a location for the exhibition of video art, The Kitchen soon expanded its mission to include other forms of art and performance. In 1974, The Kitchen relocated to a building at the corner of Wooster and Broome Streets in SoHo, and incorporated as a not-for-profit arts organization. In 1987 it moved to its current location. The first music director of The Kitchen was composer Rhys Chatham. The venue became known as a place where many No Wave bands like Glenn Branca, Lydia Lunch and James Chance performed. Notable Kitchen alumni also include Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Rocco Di Pietro, John Moran, Jay Scheib, Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, Peter Greenaway, Michael Nyman, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Gordon Mumma, Frederic Rzewski, Ridge Theater, The Future Sound of London, Leisure Class, Elliott Sharp, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, Meredith Monk, Arleen Schloss, Vito Acconci, Keshavan Maslak, Elaine Summers, Lucinda Childs, Bill T. Jones, David Byrne/Talking Heads, chameckilerner, John Jasperse, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, ETHEL, Chris McIntyre, Sylvie Degiez, Wayne Lopes/CosmicLegends, and Cindy Sherman. Today, The Kitchen focuses on presenting emerging artists, most of whom are local, and is committed to advancing work that is experimental in nature. Its facilities include a 155-seat black box performance space and a gallery space for audio and visual exhibitions. The Kitchen presents work in music, dance, performance, video, film, visual art, and literature. …”
Wikipedia
The Kitchen in Chelsea