Meetings, on the choice for artists and works for Words Live 1
Toine Horvers

As a performance artist I have for many years been especially interested in language, in written as well as spoken form. This interest grew more intense as a result of a stay in Ireland for a couple of months in 2003. I I am especially interested in more or less composed, constructed form of language, where it becomes a sort of ritual, and thus different from everyday informative/communicative language, and how this is sounded in space by the voice. My works consist of simple systems and constructions for making language heard in time and space and this, I think, is where I connect with the oral tradition.

On the basis of this idea I have for a number of years been trying to propose voice- and text-based works by artists who are not specifically poets, singers or actors for the programs of the Poetry International festival in Rotterdam. This has turned out to be impossible so far: the 'sounding' text based arts are strictly divided from oral poetry as presented in Poetry International Festival Rotterdam.

A while ago I attended a concert where Dante Boon (composer/pianist/speaker), Samuel Vriezen (composer/poet/speaker) and Arnold Marinissen (speaking percussionist a.o. Ives Ensemble) were performing text compositions by Samuel Vriezen, Anthony Fiumara and Tom Johnson together with poet F. van Dixhoorn.

With my own 'Vocal Sculptures' (pieces that had been performed by Cluster Chamber Choir directed by Romain Bischoff) in mind, I started a conversation with Dante and Samuel. Dante and Samuel are both member of the Jackson Mac Low Band, a group that concentrates on performing polyphonic text compositions (Jackson Mac Low was a New York based poet and Fluxus artist who more or less did for poetry what John Cage did for music: experimenting with chance and simultaneous performance, etc). I thought that this quartet - the members are poets, composers and songwriters but not traditionally trained singers - could be interesting performers for my vocal sculptures: voices without the sound codes of the trained voice. We started imagining an event in which we could also include other oral aspects of performing arts, that would be presented in a non-theatrical, unplugged way: a study of the sound of words in space. This contact formed the basic idea for Words Live, a series of three performance evenings in The Player, a liberal-minded club venue that does not find itself encumbered by the codes of any specific arts discipline.

Samuel Vriezen is, first of all, a conceptual artist and thinker. As a composer, he has written quite a few works for important groups like De Volharding and the Zephyr Quartet. As a poet, he published his first collection, 4 Zinnen, earlier this year - the book was immediately enthusiastically reviewed in De Groene Amsterdammer. The book is more of a conceptual art work with language than a book of poems in the conventional sense. Furthermore, Samuel was the founder of the Jackson Mac Low Band, a group of artists, poets and composers based around Stichting Perdu.

The first conversations that I had with Dante Boon - a composer, pianist and presenter of concerts - quite quickly veered from music into the visual arts and literature. Dante started his career as a pianist at the age of 13, studying at the Sweelinck Conservatory, and he premiered works by important composers such as Tom Johnson, Anthony Fiumara and Clarence Barlow. Together with Samuel, he recorded a CD of constructivist piano works by Tom Johnson called Symmetries: a small gem. For their part, Dante's own compositions have been performed by the Nederlands Vocaal Laboratorium, the New York Miniaturist Ensemble and Marcel Worms. Just as Samuel did, Dante has programmed and organised many concert series, in venues such as De Badcuyp and the Goethe Institut in Amsterdam.

I got to know Cora Schmeiser (ex-Vocaal Laboratorium) as a singer, but I would prefer to call her a vocal performer. Although she is a marvellous soprano - I've heard her many times in early music performances, in works by composers like Hildegard von Bingen - I approached her first of all because of her stupendous spoken performances, including works by Kurt Schwitters and Georges Aperghis.

Beth Anderson is a composer with a background in the New York Downtown scene, coming out of the tradition of John Cage. Over the years her compositions made a strange and interesting change from strict conceptual works to a lavish romanticism, unproblematically celebrating the beautiful. In her early text works one can already find signs of this change. These are highly virtuoso repetitive poems that are to be recited, whose virtuosity makes them more like rhythmical sound works than like poems, or, as she puts it, 'a vocal percussive music' that show traces of her childhood experiences at auctions (her father was an auctioneer).

Gabriëlle Barros Martins
is a young artist, who recently finished her studies at St. Joost in Breda. Her work consists of experiments with the sounds of words and voices in space, that are conducted in a very analytic way. Her performance tonight will be in collaboration with the audience.

In Dylan Newcomb's choreographies, words come from a spatial/psychological background. A keyword in his work is 'perspective': he is interested in working with other people and their personal idea of perspective, which has a lot to do with time, space and movement. The movements of the body are developed on the basis of group experiments with vocal sounds and made-up words. After being trained in America Dylan was a dancer in Het Nederlands Danstheater for eight years. He is interested in the relations between movement and spiritualism, practised meditation and psychological Kinesiology. I saw his performance 'Burn' and was fascinated by the strict ritual patterns in space.

Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion
(London) are dancers/choreographers who in their most recent performance included ' Speaking Dances'. They make words that dance through space.

Dante and Samuel introduced me to Wandelweiser, an international group of composers who are especially interested in a conceptual, post-Cageian approach to composing, often writing long pieces that often have very simple structures but can engender complex experiences, and their experimental esthetics can be at odds with how music is presented at traditional concert halls. It is a music that gives you ample time to become conscious of sound in space. Their central organiser is Antoine Beuger, musician and composer with a visual arts background. Together with Cora Schmeiser and three instrumentalists Antoine will perform his 30 minute piece 'Landscapes of absence', based on a poem of Emily Dickinson and accompanied by a video work of Els van Riel.

Ton Pompert is actor. I know him from his participation in installation-like projects in the 70's and 80's art world. Ton exploits his skills in various directions: theatre, film, tv, and communication training.

As a performance-artist Sandra Johnston, who hails from Belfast, deals with the notion of territory. She studied at the University of Belfast, doing work on the Trauma of Place. Each of her works is site specific. I was impressed by a performance of hers in Amsterdam where she just spoke, alternating between experiences of her youth and home grounds, and small incidents from her actual

related works:
Words Live 1