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

Festival VIII

June 27–July 6, 2011

+ Juan Cristóbal Cerrillo + Carolyn Chen + David Coll + Sean Garner +
+ Eric Gladstone + Andrew Greenwald + Brian Griffeath-Loeb + Heather Gordon + Cole Heinowitz +
+ Michelle Lou + Marcia Scott + Jeffrey Treviño + Erik Ulman + Rachel Vandagriff +

As usual, this is only a bare sketch of the session’s activities, and doesn’t attempt to detail the many conversations, casual music making, fine meals by Michelle Lou, pool playing, and other activities that made up so much of the festival.

June 27
The first participants arrived over the course of the afternoon.  In an evening visit to the creek, Erik broke his finger, necessitating a trip to the local hospital; and the original movie viewing plans were suspended in favor of informal conversations.

June 28
After more informal conversations in the morning and at lunch, presentations began in the afternoon:  Erik introduced and briefly discussed recordings of Sibelius’ Tapiola and the second movement of the Sixth Symphony; and Juan Cristóbal showed a short film by Argentinian filmmaker Raymundo Gleyzer about rural pottery makers.  After another excellent dinner of juicy ribs that slid right off the bone, corn, and a green salad with beets prepared by Michelle, who cooked for us throughout our gathering, we watched Godard’s Weekend, which stimulated lively discussion.

June 29
In the morning Cole introduced and read Shelley’s Alastor, in preparation for her later presentation on Shelley and Spicer.  After lunch we watched a documentary on Philip Guston, also discussing his work with reference to the new anthology of his collected writings and interviews.  After dinner, we watched Cocteau’s Orphée, again with reference to coming discussion of Spicer.

June 30
As a morning sermon Cole played a recording of much of Spicer’s first Vancouver lecture, which details his theory of poetic dictation.  Then Brian led the group in a meditation which he had designed; and Juan Cristóbal presented his new ensemble work Lucha.  In the afternoon, Marcia led the first if two Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement lessons:  Chanukiah, freeing the shoulders from the ribs.  After dinner Carolyn presented videos and recordings of a wide range of recent work, from multimedia performances to her orchestral piece Wilder Shores of Love; to which Erik responded by showing Ron Rice’s Chumlum.

July 1
Erik read as a morning sermon two poems from Olson’s Maximus, “West Gloucester” and “Celestial Evening, October 1967.”  Following this, Cole read her paper relating Shelley and Spicer and their views of poetic inspiration.  Andrew then shared two new works, Sofrut and Hasofer, discussing their principles of generation and general aesthetic concerns.  In the afternoon, Carolyn played a recording of her epic piano piece My Young Life Has an End. Michelle and Juan Cristóbal’s delicious carnitas tacos, shrimp ceviche, and jicama salad put us in the mood for a Poto dance party.

July 2
Brian shared a number of recent experimental compositions, and discussed their relation to his more central concerns; and then Erik presented recordings of two recent pieces for flute, Styx and this until.  In the afternoon, Cole introduced a documentary on Charles Olson, Polis Is This, followed by outtakes from the 1966 NET profile of Olson.  In what has become a yearly tradition, Mark and Cathy Scott prepared the evening’s barbecue dinner, which was followed by a screening of Philippe Garrel’s Le Lit de la vierge.

July 3
David showed the development of his music over the last few years with 1956-1958, Muthologos, and Dérive; and Marcia led a second Feldenkrais session, this one concentrating on sensing the structure of the mouth and the patterns of the breath.  Erik was inspired to show Samuel Beckett’s Not I, as performed by Billie Whitelaw.  After lunch Cole read and discussed her new poems, “Understanding Heraldry” and “The Trade,” as well as the neglected poetry of Peter Seaton.  Coontinuing the celebration of American poets, after dinner Cole and Erik read Michael McClure’s play The Beard, followed by a viewing of Monte Hellman’s The Shooting.

July 4
In the morning session Jeff gave a first presentation, concentrating on his recent computer animations.  To celebrate the 4th, in the afternoon Cole and Erik read from and discussed an eclectic selection of great American writers—Jeffers, Spicer, Seaton, Stevens, and Burroughs.  Some of the Poto participants climbed some of the high ropes course elements.  Continuing the patriotic theme, after dinner there was a double feature of George Waggner’s anti-Communist Red Nightmare and Howard Brookner’s film about Burroughs.

July 5
Cole gave a second reading, clarifying the grammatical structures and associative mechanisms of her recent work; and in his second presentation Jeff shared rare footage of Soviet experiments in sound production through optical technological means (on celluloid, a proto-UPIC…), with other experimental fusions of sound and image.  On this final afternoon we took a field trip to the Yuba River.  In the evening we read through some music by John Cage:  a simultaneous version of Atlas Eclipticalis with Winter Music and the Solo for Voice 45, and one of the Song Books and the Piano Concert.  Since we had just received by phone the sad news of Cy Twombly’s death, Erik prefaced the run-through with a reading of Cy’s only published statement on his work, from l’Esperienza moderna, 1957.

July 6
We gathered our things, cleaned up the premises, and went home.

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