Skip to main content

Arika 12 - Episode 1 of A New Festival of Experimental Film and Music

In December 2001, a brand new experimental music festival appeared in Glasgow. It was called Instal, and took place over one day at The Arches, bringing together various shades of the international avant-garde, from Japanese noise artist Koji Asano and junkshop record sampler Philip Jeck, to works by Scots composers David Fennessy and William Sweeney played by The Paragon Ensemble. Such events weren't unprecedented, with the equally eclectic Le Weekend festival in Stirling similarly ongoing. A regular left-field music infrastructure or scene in Scotland, however, was absent.

 A decade on, it's hard not to trip over a network of events great and small which claim to be in some way to be experimental or avant-garde. Over the years Instal itself grew to become a two-day, then three-day affair. Barry Esson, who originally instigated Instal with Tiernan Kelly, now of Film City, formed Arika Industries with his co-conspirator Bryony McIntyre as Arika. As well as Instal, Arika have also been responsible for the film-based Kill Your Timid Notion series at Dundee Contemporary Arts, a festival at the Sage in Gateshead, and the site-specific Resonant Spaces and Shadowed Spaces tours.

 As the landscape has changed, so has Arika, with their most recent events eschewing star names in favour of a more philosophical and political line of enquiry that questions both the form and function of what an experimental music festival can be. The latest result of this is a series of three 'episodes' of something simply called Arika 12. The first of these, titled A Film Is A Statement, will present four days of screenings, discussions and lectures at the CCA, culminating in a showing of Brecht-inspired song-spiels by Russian provocateurs, Chto Delat?

 “When we started out, the impetus was to probably provide a platform for certain types of artforms that there didn't seem to be a lot of in Scotland,” Esson explains. “Over time that's developed, so that as well as wanting to see this kind of work, you want audiences to engage with it beyond the standard expectations of what a festival is supposed to look like. We've constantly tried to explore that in different ways, and we've changed the formats to the extent that at the last Instal, we effectively broke it. I feel very emboldened by a lot of the other stuff that's going on in Scotland, and that not only encourages you, but obliges you to take things further.”

 With this in mind, Episode 2 of Arika 12, A Special Form of Darkness, will look at ideas of nihilism in music, while Episode 3, Copying Without Copying, will present unedited transcripts from sources including Guantanamo Bay and the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Also on Arika's agenda is an invitation from the Whitney Biennial, the major international showcase of North American contemporary art in New York. As the Biennial's first non-American curators in its near forty year history, Arika will be adopting a similarly serious approach.

 “It would have been easy just to repeat something we'd already done with Instal,” McIntyre points out, “but we need to ask questions about what it actually means for us to be doing something at the Whitney, and look at the same ideas of engagement and participation. What Arika 12 is about is engaging with complex aesthetics and ideas, and applying them to real life, because they have social or ethical use.”

 To illustrate this point, Esson points to a recent YouTube video of veteran minimalist composer Philip Glass with the Occupy Wall Street protesters outside the Lincoln Centre, where his opera, Satyagraha, has just been playing. In the thick of the crowd, Glass reads the final lines of Satyagraha, taken from the Bhagavad Gita; 'When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again.' After each line, the 'human microphone' of the crowd repeat Glass' words like a mantra.

 “It's the best thing he's done in years,” asserts Esson. “It's minimal, it's experimental, it's political, and there are hundreds of people participating in a performance of what is actually a composition. It has a purpose, and it shows the power of what experimental music can do.”

 Arika 12, Episode 1: A Film is a Statement, CCA, Glasgow, January 19-22; Episode 2: A Special Form of Darkness, Tramway, Glasgow, February 24-26; Episode 3: Copying Without Copying, Tramway, Glasgow, March 23-25. www.arika.org.uk www.cca-glasgow.com www.tramway.org

 The Herald, January 19th 2012

 ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…