XS

 

“Who You Staring At?” Visual Culture of the No Wave Scene in the 1970s and 1980s exhibition ~ February 1 to June 19, 2023

Centre Pompidou Paris on Level 4

 

A video documenting the Centre Pompidou, Paris March 8th event XS: The Opera Opus: An Operatic Transvaluation of No Wave Aesthetics by Joseph Nechvatal and Rhys Chatham has been published online at the Centre Pompidou website

 HERE

 

 

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Centre Pompidou, Paris March 8th event XS: The Opera Opus: An Operatic Transvaluation of No Wave Aesthetics by Joseph Nechvatal and Rhys Chatham

 

This discussion and screening was conducted in connection with the “Who You Staring At?” Visual Culture of the No Wave Scene in the 1970s and 1980s exhibition in the Pompidou Museum on Level 4. I have blogged photos from the show HERE to give you an idea of it. A 10 minute XS exemplification of XS the Opera musical slideshow is the central highlight.

 

Works screened during the March 8th session:

-Karole Armitage, Rhys Chatham, Vertige, 1979, 2 min 23 s (excerpt).

-Karole Armitage, Rhys Chatham, Drastic-Classicism, 1981, 1 min 40 s (excerpt)

-Rhys Chatham, Drastic Classical Music for Electric Instruments, 1981, 1 min (excerpt)

-Joseph Nechvatal, When Things Get Rough on Easy Street, 1982, 2 min 34 s. ň partir d'un extrait de Guitar Trio (1977) composed by Rhys Chatham (drums : David Linton, guitars : Nina Canal, Rhys Chatham and Joe Dizney, mix : Peter Gordon)

-Joseph Nechvatal, ExStasis Ovid, 1983, 2 min 29 s. The soundtrack is from an excerpt from Babbling Tongues of Metamorphoses (1986), which Joseph Nechvatal composed from a recording of the reading of Ovid's Metamorphoses by American actress/singer Jane Smith

-Rhys Chatham, Joseph Nechvatal, XS exemplification of XS the Opera 2022, 10 min sound slide-show

-Joseph Nechvatal, Viral Venture, 2009, 6 min 19 s (excerpt). Animation with Rhys Chatham (music) and Stéphane Sikora (application development)

 

This event, moderated by curator Nicolas Ballet, discussed the eight part No Wave art music performance series, XS: The Opera Opus, created by Nechvatal and Chatham between 1984 and 1986 and explored the various sources of creation that led to the development of this multi-disciplinary No Wave scene. Its sets were consistently created by Nechvatal by projecting 35 mm cross-faded slides of his drawings onto the stage. Its final and most complete 90-minute realization were three nights of performance called XS: The Opera Opus that took place April 10, 11, 12 in 1986 at The Boston Shakespeare Theater. It consisted of three soprano singers, four trumpets, six electric guitars. bass, drums with dance choreography by Yves Musard. Nechvatal made the XS costumes from fabric printed with his drawings at The Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia.

 

“The figure-ground relationships of the costumed figures and background sets of XS are complex in their visual cacophony but subtly unified. Thus complementing the musical compositional style of Mr. Chatham. Like the sound of his multiple electric guitar compositions, the look of XS can remain interestingly hypnotic over an extended period of time by not overly dictating visual specificities. As such, XS explores the visualization approach to art in opposition to the dominant reductive mode. […] The look of XS breaks down the given popular signs of the time in order to liquidate their meanings so as to address the spiritual conditions of contemporary life, the excessiveness of contemporary electronics, nuclear weapon overload, and the proliferation of ideological information. But XS is not fundamentally literary. It is primarily about conceptual linkage; as a seamless flow of intuitive imagery dreams of a technological and ideological reality that blends over-ripeness with minimal concision. In XS, Mr. Chatham’s music is the primary dramatic element and the scenery the text. Performed dramatic action is subordinated to internal rumination because XS turns culture inward; away from the bourgeois world and its standards to a more personnel, private and extra-ordinary world. That is why XS depicts no human confrontation, no satire, no attack. The normal world is merely dissolved into a beatific vision of ecstatic peace through the melting together of figure-ground oppositions.”

~from Nechvatal’s XS: The Opera Opus original program notes

 

If this gets you in the No Wave mood ~ the 1 hour February 9th dublab No Wave music radio show I curated in support of the Pompidou show has been archived HERE. I also choose music for, and am interviewed on, the radio show Krachwald #26: No Wave Time Warp now online HERE.

 

 

Peace The New Sleep (1985-6) and 4 drawings hung at the Centre Pompidou (installation view) by Joseph Nechvatal

 

 

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Centre Pompidou, Paris March 8th event XS: The Opera Opus: An Operatic Transvaluation of No Wave Aesthetics by Joseph Nechvatal and Rhys Chatham

 

 

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Erotic Psyche (Bradley Eros & Aline Mare) XS studio study (1983) by Joseph Nechvatal

 

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XS: The Opera Poster for the Pyramid Club (1985)

 

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XS: The Opera at Shakespeare Theatre in Boston (1986) photo by Paula Court

 

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Joseph Nechvatal speaking at the Centre Pompidou, Paris March 8th event XS: The Opera Opus: An Operatic Transvaluation of No Wave Aesthetics by Joseph Nechvatal and Rhys Chatham
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Joseph Nechvatal speaking at the Centre Pompidou, Paris March 8th event XS: The Opera Opus: An Operatic Transvaluation of No Wave Aesthetics by Joseph Nechvatal and Rhys Chatham

 

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Joseph Nechvatal speaking at the Centre Pompidou, Paris March 8th event XS: The Opera Opus: An Operatic Transvaluation of No Wave Aesthetics by Joseph Nechvatal and Rhys Chatham

 

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