May 30, 2006

'Do we really have more substance than the ghosts we endlessly applaud?'


My copy of the Caretaker box set arrived a few days ago. A marvellous thing (worth 16 quid of anyone's money), produced according to exemplary cyberpunk principles: high quality, no middle-men, (and therefore) fast. I only finished the sleeve notes a couple of weeks ago, and here they are already, presented in a lovingly prepared glossy booklet.

A line from the Caretaker piece - 'Do we really have more substance than the ghosts we endlessly applaud?' - came to mind when I saw this stupefying non-news on Blissblog:

'From the current issue of The Wire's 'Bitstream' news section:

London's Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) has awarded 10 thousand pounds to artist Jo Mitchell to stage a reenactment of a notorious 1984 ICA performance involving members of Einsturzende Neubauten and Fad Gadget's Frank Tovey, among others. Called Concerto for Voice and Machine, the event was legendarily chaotic, with members of the group attacking the wooden stage with pneumatic drills, purportedly in order to reach secret tunnels rumoured to run between government departments and Buckingham Palace underneath the Mall, and the audience joining in by tossing glasses into a cement mixer. It ended when ICA staff turned the power off. The reenactment is scheduled to take place in February 2007.'

I share Simon's bemusement. 'Does that mean ticket holders are allowed, or expected, to riot, smash up the stage, etc? Or will the mayhem all be enacted by performers, garbed in painstakingly authentic circa-1984/Immaculate Consumptive-type clothes and hair, like one of those fake Medieval villages you can visit with blacksmiths hammering at the anvil, milkmaids tugging teats and lugging pails, miscreants in the stocks, and so forth?'

The planned reconstruction is not so much a Non-Event (a historical occurrence on a grand scale, but which functions to reconfirm the existing order, or which effectuates a Restoration, e.g. Live Aid and the Gulf War) as an Anti-Event (something which covers over an actual Event and replaces it with an officially-sanctioned commemoration).

'Things catch your attention for a while but you do not remember them for very long. But the old memories persist, intact.... Constantly commemorated...

The past cannot be forgotten, the present cannot be remembered.' (from the Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia sleevenotes)

Posted by mark at May 30, 2006 12:04 PM | TrackBack