I was reminded last night whilst watching a performance entitled ’Ante Phylloxera’ by Rochelle Goldberg, Veit Laurent Kurz, and Stefan Tcherepnin at South Street Arts Centre in Reading, of just how awesome the drone metal band Sunn0))) are. And just how terrifyingly unsettled I became during their performance in 2007 during their set at ATP, Minehead. A decade ago! This memory has stuck with me. And it’s more than a memory. I can still smell the intoxicating dried ice, feel the deep drone vibrations, and shudder at the image of the Tree man (their some time frontman Attila Csihar) as he beckoned the audience towards his otherworldly faceless figure, with a long stick finger, on which was perched a stuffed black raven. Wrapped almost mummy-like in the tree mask (by artist Nader Sadek), his vocals conjured haunting resonances that ricocheted through the Butlin’s Dance Hall, reconstituting every splinter of its wooden structure. Dave Burrows claims that performance fictions can ‘open up new paradigms through privileging multiplicity or the mutation of relations’ and that this in turn can produce points where ‘new perspectives are explored’. Immersive ritualistic noise should distort experience of place, change perspectives, conjure new senses, and, to quote Burrows ‘open up new paradigms’. Otherwise we become a bit too aware of people performing, with costumes and props and masks and drift into a sleepy state of recalling past experiences that did in effect expose us to other worlds. It is probably counterproductive to compare the two but with its combination of branch head dresses, folk costume and sustained drone sounds, unfortunately, the South street performance that called itself after a wine was a little too like a watered down version of the Tree man and made me thirsty for the Sunn0))) vintage.
An exhibition of work by Goldberg, Kurz, Tcherepnin and Törnudd in partnership with Jelly runs from Saturday 14 October to Saturday 11 November 2017.
Unit 53, Broad Street Mall, Reading RG1 7QE, UK
(Top image: Sunn0))), All Tomorrow’s Nightmares, ATP, Minehead, 2007. Bottom image: Ante Phylloxera, South Street Arts Centre, Reading, 8 October 2017)