Art does not seek to describe but to enact. —Charles Olson

Festival IV

June 29–July 8, 2007

+ Erik Burns + Adrian Coburn + Kristi Elkins + Heather Gordon + Cole Heinowitz +
+ Saralyse Kissler + Laurie Koh + Tania Lanfer + Sarah Miles + Kirthi Nath + Tom Ontiveros +
+ J.H. Prynne + Bruno Ruviaro + Marcia Scott + Erik Ulman +

The following is a brief journal attempting to reconstruct the main events; as before, many of the most memorable experiences happened outside of the schedule—dinners (initially prepared principally by Kristi Elkins, later mostly by Tom Ontiveros), private conversations, time at the river. Much has been omitted here; but this will give some sense of the week.

Friday (June 29)
People arrived over the course of the day and ate and conversed.

Saturday (June 30)
In the morning Heather Gordon read from her poetic sequence The Word and No Gasping. Lunch was followed by much general conversation, and in the late afternoon Kirthi Nath showed three of her recent films and videos. After dinner Erik Ulman talked a bit about the films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet; after looking at excerpts from Pedro Costa’s Ou git votre sourire enfoui? and a documentary on the filming of Chronik von Anna Magdalena Bach, we watched and discussed Nicht Versöhnt.

Sunday (July 1)
We had agreed the previous day to schedule frequent readings; so after breakfast Cole Heinowitz read from Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. Then Erik discussed his cello piece L’Extase de M. Poher; since its title and structure derive from a poem by Jeremy Prynne, Erik read this before showing a video of the work’s premiere, as performed (magnificently) by Séverine Ballon at Musiques démesurées IX in Clermont-Ferrand. After lunch, Marcia Scott showed and discussed her video work in progress, which stitches together several incomplete pieces. (Over the week she would also make a number of film portraits of Poto participants.) After Marcia’s presentation Jeremy gave a summary of his recent book Field Notes: ‘The Solitary Reaper’ and Others, a long analysis of Wordsworth’s poem, its context, meaning, and reception.

Monday (July 2)
The morning reading, by Cole, was from Isaac d’Israeli’s Curiosities of Literature. Much of the day was relaxed, spent in conversation, rehearsal, and by the river. Then, as a lead-in to a viewing and discussion of Pedro Costa’s Colossal Youth scheduled for later in the week, we watched a purported influence on that work, John Ford’s Sergeant Rutledge. This film provoked a vehemently critical response from Jeremy, which initiated several hours of discussion.

Tuesday (July 3)
Cole’s morning reading was of Byron’s “The Age of Bronze”. In the early afternoon, Erik gave a presentation on the work of Bernd Alois Zimmermann, concentrating on Die Soldaten and Musiques pour les soupers du Roi Ubu; and then Tom Ontiveros led a tour of the ranch, pointing out various striking effects of natural lighting. (Throughout the week Tom had a number of his photographs on view, largely documenting his work in theatrical lighting design.) In the evening, Jeremy and Cole read Shelley’s “Mont Blanc,” having arranged for Erik to write and perform a musical prelude to the poem on violin, and for Bruno Ruviaro and Tania Lanfer to create a postlude, for which they used piano and a laptop (in which progressively distorted fragments from Mahler were recognizable). Finally, we watched the first two acts of a video of Die Soldaten.

Wednesday (July 4)
In the morning Bruno presented his Anomia cycle, in a concert recording by Inauthentica, discussing his interest in quotation. In the afternoon were two readings: Erik read Gertrude Stein’s “What Are Master-pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them,” and Jeremy responded by reading Francis Ponge’s “My Creative Method.” Since it was July 4, Marcia’s parents and the Kisslers came out to barbecue; and then Marcia, Jeremy, and Tania went out on the Scott family boat to see the fireworks. The others stayed behind and, after a night walk, did vocal improvisations together. Finally, Erik performed John Cage’s piano piece One5.

Thursday (July 5)
Early in the morning, Marcia and her mom went out again on the boat, with Tom and Heather. Cole gave the day’s first presentation, reading a number of recent poems and discussing work in progress. In the afternoon, Heather read more of her writings, this time from three sequences collected as Here. After discussion, we listened to Heidegger’s reading of Hölderlin’s poem “Der Ister”. Then we went to the creek, where Erik read Hamburger’s translation of the same poem; then Jeremy read the translation of “Bread and Wine.” After dinner Marcia presented Costa’s Colossal Youth, which we watched and discussed.

Friday (July 6)
In the morning Saralyse Kissler conducted the first of two yoga sessions. After lunch Jeremy read his most recent poetic sequence, To Pollen, which was followed by extensive discussion. After dinner there was much informal musicmaking (reading especially through Brahms, Mahler, Bartok…; rehearsals for Saturday’s concert had been going on throughout the week); and then we watched Straub and Huillet’s film of Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron.

Saturday (July 7)
The main event was the afternoon concert. The program was:

a Bartok arrangement of a Hungarian folk song, performed by Adrian Coburn, voice, accompanied by Bruno at the piano; a collaboration between Cole and Bruno, in which Cole orally improvised a text and was recorded by Bruno, so that she could improvise another layer of response; a repeat of the video of Séverine Ballon’s performance of Erik’s L’Extase de M. Poher (followed later by Jeremy’s recitation of his poem); Cole and Heather’s reading of a collaborative poem called “1, 2, 7” (for numbers of lines allotted to each reader in turn); two vocal works by Christian Wolff: a solo song, After a Few Years (text: Rosa Luxemburg), sung by Erik; and I Like to Think of Harriet Tubman (text: Susan Griffin), performed by Adrian (reciting voice), Erik (violin), and Bruno and Tania (piano); and, finally, Adrian (voice) and Erik Burns (piano) performed a song whose music had been composed by Erik B. and for which Adrian had written Poto-specific words.

After the concert Saralyse conducted a second yoga session; and, after a last trip to the river, there was a concluding feast, prepared by Saralyse and Erik B.

Sunday (July 8)
In the morning was clean-up and departure.

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