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Avanto Festival 2003 press release
Live performances: Terre Thaemlitz (USA) - Ultra-red (USA) - KK. Null
(Japan) - Leif Elggren (Sweden) - Radian (Austria) - Mira Calix (UK) -
Pekka Airaksinen (Finland) - Kari Peitsamo (Finland) - Emi Maeda
(Japan/Finland) - Ibrahim Terzic (Croatia/Finland) - Shinji Kanki
(Japan/Finland) - Helsinki Computer Orchestra (Finland) - Dubbing Mixers
(Finland) + more
Moving image: Gunvor Nelson (USA/Sweden) - Mark Boswell (USA) - M.M. Serra
(USA) - Lillian Schwartz (USA) - Tina Frank (Austria) - Muscha (Germany) -
Chris Petit (UK) - Abigail Child (USA) - Jennifer Reeves (USA) - Carol
Schneemann (USA) - Martha Colburn (USA) - Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay (Canada)
- Seppo Renvall (Finland) - Minna Långström (Finland) + more
Avanto is Helsinki's annual event of non-conformist music and moving
image. The fourth Avanto Festival presents a wide spectrum of avant-garde
and underground artists from different generations, whose work varies from
formal explorations to political activism and beyond. The festival venues
are Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, The Finnish Film Archive's cinema
theatre Orion, Gloria Club, MUU Gallery and Huuto Gallery.
The headliners of Avanto's live programme are Terre Thaemlitz and
Ultra-red from the USA. Thaemlitz' performance Lovebomb juxtaposes
violence and love: terrorism as an extreme manifestation of love, state
terrorism as the obverse of patriotic love. Technologically sophisticated,
the performance is based on a broad selection of historical sound
recordings, featuring Italian pre-Fascist futurists from the early 1900s,
the lynching of black people in Missouri in 1906, the discrimination of
Japanese victims of the 1945 atom bombs, an underground radio station in
Czechoslovakia in 1968, the declaration of war against apartheid
by the African National Congress, harassment of sexual minorities and
much, much more, all digitally manipulated in amazing ways.
Ultra-red's audiovisual performance Transistors (transfer / resistance)
is set up like the press conference of a fictitious revolutionary
committee of Latin California. "Since the advent of portable
computer-based media production, the live presentation of electronic music
has settled into its own set of conventions. Lap-top jockeys sit mute
behind their power books, couched in technological neutrality. Rejecting
artistic neutrality, Ultra-red disrupts the boundaries of art and
organizing by assuming a variety of subject positions: community
organizer, computer musician, sound engineer and immigrant." Ultra-red's
gang of four combine glitch electronica, slogans, videos documenting
Californian activists, and questions like "Are immigrants mere victims of
war and globalization? Or are they empire's resisting subjects?"
The Finnish scene is spearheaded at Avanto by Pekka Airaksinen, one of
the unsung legends of Finnish electronic music. His first well-known
project was the scandalous 1960's noise/performance art group The Sperm,
who were equally inspired by the sound of modern electronic music of
Stockhausen, Cage et al, free jazz, and The Mothers of Invention. In the
70's Airaksinen developed his own compositional method based on numerologies
and aesthetic systematizations found in various ancient cultures. This
turned out to be a powerful extra twist in his concoction of influences,
and so did the addition of the pre-techno sound of drum machines in the
80's and the strangely skewed echoes of turn-of-the-century electronica.
His concert coincides with the release of a compilation CD spanning 35
years of his career as a recording artist complete with a bonus cd of
remixes by an international line-up of artists.
Leif Elggren from Sweden is another central figure in the festival
programme this year. He's an internationally acclaimed visual and
sound/noise artist, whose resumé includes among other things participating
in the Venice Biennale this year. His work is often both political,
dealing with questions of power and religion, and extremely personal,
drawing from personal history and surrealistic fantasies. His possibly
best-known project are the virtual Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland, which
he established together with Carl-Michael von Hausswolff (one of the
artists in Avanto 2002), and whose throne they share as self-proclaimed
kings. At Avanto Elggren will present his installation "As If I was My
Father", as well as an audiovisual performance based on his dream diary
and tape-recorded sleep talk.
KK.Null is one of the top names of the Japanese noise scene and beyond
that, a true cult artist among the followers of leftfield rock worldwide.
His list of collaborations is impressive - Steve Albini, Jim O'Rourke,
Merzbow, and many others - but he is best known for the furious noise
rock of his band Zeni Geva. In recent years his output has concentrated
on solo material, which could be called "cosmic noise minimalism".
In contrast, Mira Calix's soundworld is deeply earth-bound. Calix aka
Chantal Passamonte constructs her compositions around sounds found in the
UK countryside where she lives - sampled rubbing of wood and stones,
sounds of water and more. Her latest album on the revered Warp label has
been decribed thus: "neolithic Industrial music though Passamonte also has
a taste for Erik Satie-like piano pieces" (The Wire, UK) and "a spacious
and emotional female antidote to that phallic trend of increasingly
bizarre beats -- the hair-metal guitar solos of the IDM genre" (Imaginary
Albums website, Canada).
This year's Avanto guest from Austria is Radian, another proof that
Vienna is firmly one of the foremost centres in experimental music. A trio
comprised of a drummer/laptop player, synth player/laptop player and a
bassist, they have been praised both as a live outfit and for their two
beautiful cd's. It's fortunately not easy to categorize their style; it's
"a stacking of various rough edges" as they say themselves. Stacked you'll
find industrial found-sound samples, jazz rock rhytms, minimal funk,
glitch, noise and distortion, free improvisation dynamics, and more.
Kari Peitsamo is probably the most prolific Finnish recording artist
with 43 albums released between 1977 and 2003. His music has ranged from
Dadaistic singer-songerwriter minimalism to absurdly photo-realistic
pastiches of Southern Rock (cf. the cd "Brono Starr's Rock'n'Roll Roadside
Attraction). In 1978 he recorded an EP inspired by free jazz, but it
sounded more like the anti-music of the Fluxus movement. In Avanto he will
perform an updated version of this project.
Helsinki Computer Orchestra, founded in 2003 and comprised of 20
Finnish musicians working in the fields of experimental electronics, free
improvisation and noise, will premiere a new composition by the Japanese
electro-acoustic composer Shinji Kanki, who lives in Helsinki. In addition
to Helsinki Computer Orchestra, Avanto presents several upcoming acts from
Helsinki's vivid experimental music scene, such as Emi Maeda (also from
Japan and based in Helsinki), Ibrahim Terzic (a Croatian living in Helsinki)
and Dubbing Mixers (two Finns and a Frenchman living in Helsinki).
The main guests of the film programme are the Swedish-born Gunvor Nelson
who made her career in the USA, and the Americans Mark Boswell and M.M.
Debuting in 1963, Gunvor Nelson (b. 1931) has directed a wonderful
series of short "personal films". Through her visually distinctive work
Nelson studies her life, her dreams, her memories of motherhood and
childhood, and the communication gap between generations. The three Avanto
screenings are a representative cross-section of the avant garde cinema
according to Gunvor Nelson. Her latest film Trace Elements will have its
European premiere at Avanto.
Avanto will also offer the European premiere of Mark Boswell's brand
new feature debut The Subversion Agency, a paranoia movie combining
archival material, fiction, and situationist political satire. The scene
is set in quasi-historical 1960's Cuba and Florida, complete with Black
Panthers, anarcho-hippies and feminists. Boswell cites Dziga Vertov,
Jean-Luc Godard and Bruce Conner as his influences; Craig Baldwin
is another good reference point.
An earlier representative of the same tradition, Muscha's Decoder (West
Germany, 1984) is a cult underground film about audio terrorism, muzak,
and citizens under computers' control, starring FM Einheit (Einstürzende
Neubauten) as well as William Burroughs and Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing
Gristle / Psychic TV) in bizarre cameo roles.
One of the most prominent pioneers of new experimental video in Europe,
Tina Frank is also the artist responsible for the distinctive graphic
image of the renowned Austrian Mego label. Both her cover designs and
many of her music videos are glitch-based, and screening in Kiasma is
comprised of various collaborations she has made with artists like
Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke, Ilpo Väisänen, Pita and General Magic.
Kiasma will also host some rarely seen 1970's animations by the
virtuoso computer artist Lillian Schwarz from New York. One of the true
pioneers of media art, Schwartz has been featured in just about every
notable art museum in the world. A collection of restored rarities, A
Beautiful Virus In The Machine will start its world tour at Avanto. The
programme is curated by Greg Kurcewicz and Will Rose, who will be present
to introduce the show.
Avantocore explores the intricacies of sexuality and the history of its
representation in avant-garde films as represented in New York City. The
film selected into the programme deal with a variety of sexual
tendencies, experiences, fantasies, and reflections. The program is
compiled by director Ilppo Pohjola in cooperation with the director and
curator M.M.Serra from New York's Film-makers Cooperative. The list of
directors includes Jennifer Reeves, Abigail Child, Carol Schneemann and
Chris Petit's road movie Radio On (UK, 1979) is a truly memorable
black-and-white and grey document of the mindscape and the time of its
making, complete with a soundtrack featuring Kraftwerk and Low-era David
The Avantoscope programme has already become a tradition with its
international selection of the latest avant-garde cinema and digital
The festival programme will be finalized during September and October. The
annual Avanto compilation CD featuring all of the festival's live artists
as well as some film soundtracks will be released on the eve
of the festival.
Avanto 2003 is organized by the non-profit association Avanto in
co-operation with the Kiasma Theatre and The Finnish Film Archive.
More information: www.avantofestival.com