Andy Moor (electric guitar) and Yannis Kyriakides (computer & synths)
A selection of the sessions recorded at Xavier Veilhan's Studio Venezia, Venice Biennale 2017.
1. Camera (5:49)
2. Dedalo (7:11)
3. Concha (9:34)
4. Diluvio (6:51)
5. Stropha (7:34)
6. Fossa (5:28)
In 2017 Xavier Veilhan invited us to take part in his ‘Studio Venezia’ at the French pavilion for the 57th Venice Art Biennale. Our two days residency took place on October 23-24, and was part of a series in part curated by Lionel Bovier, Christian Marclay and Enrico Bettinello, where invited musicians were recording and performing in the studio throughout the duration of the festival.
Veilhan writes himself:
“I imagine an overall environment: an immersive installation that propels visitors to the world of the recording studio and that is inspired by the pioneering work of Kurt Schwitters, the Merzbau (1923-1937). Musicians from all backgrounds are invited to bring this recording studio-sculpture to life, as it becomes home to their creations during the seven months of the Biennale. The pavilion merges visual art and music, with a nod not only to Bauhaus and to the experiments of Black Mountain College but also Doug Aitken’s “Station to Station”.
We came to Studio Venezia with no clear plan, except for some ideas about sounds, rhythmic structures, approaches of pulse and resonance we wanted to try. We wanted to just improvise for two days. We had seen pictures and heard recordings from previous sessions and had some inkling as to what the installation would involve, but what we had not expected was the unusual state of limbo that the situation afforded. The studio was a stunning environment to be in - the design of the spaces was modernist in spirit but also quite folksy with wood from floor to ceiling, where walls and instruments blurred into one form. There was a recording booth with very high quality equipment, some incredible sound technicians. From the many old and new instruments that could be used we borrowed Moog, Buchla and Vermona synths for some of the recordings, though didn’t have time to get onto the more exotic instruments on offer, such as a crumhorn or the Cristal Baschet.
The strange state of limbo came about because this was a situation that one does not ever experience as a musician - namely being at work in a studio while at the same time being a part of an ongoing art installation. As a musician you were seen as part of the space, yet not really knowing whether one should play for the crowds who were constantly passing through the pavilion or just ignore them. Both approaches were impossible, and one of the ways we found dealing with the situation was to occasionally engage with the public, as if by making more casual contact with them, it would break the expectation that this was a concert situation where the dividing line between players and public was clearly demarcated. At the same time, it was quite an exhausting situation to keep up for the whole period of our residency. The movement of crowds at the Venice biennale can be swarming and hectic, and trying to fully concentrate while people are going in and out of the spaces, taking pictures and approaching you in bewilderment about the strange sounds you are making was sometimes disconcerting. Nevertheless, the intensity of the situation brought out a different way of playing and some of the abiding memories of those two days was of a thirsty creative energy, a feeling of being like kids in a sweet shop surrounded by so many exotic sound making devices, so much so that finding ourselves drenched from a heavy downpour walking to the Giardini on the second day, we hardly noticed that we spent the rest of the day playing with wet socks.
We would like to thank Xavier Veilhan for his vision and hospitality - Tibo Javoy for being an exceptional tonmeister - Lea Wanono for making arrangements and taking care of us - Tara Karpinski for the company and titling advice - Enrico Bettinello for the initial connection with Xavier - and as always Isabelle Vigier for the great design and constructive criticism.