James K: ELEKTRA (Scream Through the Eyes of a Statue) with Eve Essex, Via App, Leila Bordreuil & Eli V Manuscript
Why is female sound bad to hear? - Anne Carson
James K opens her 2018 ISSUE residency with the premiere of ELEKTRA (Scream Through the Eyes of a Statue), a commissioned multimedia performance broadly conceptualizing the female voice as an X-ray to the bones of sound. Taking poet, essayist, and Classics professor Anne Carsons translation of Sophocles tragic play Elektra as a point of departure, James K monstrously externalizes the inner sonic world of female vocalization through a scored collaborative framework interpreting each of Elektras screams in the Greek tragedy.
The piece develops unique methods of screaming through musical and non-musical objects -- performed through manipulated text, videos, and live contributions from James K herself (voice, electronics, violin, video) Brooklyn-based musician Eve Essex (alto saxophone, various winds and electronics), electronic producer and performer Via App (electronics), 2016 ISSUE Artist-In-Residence Leila Bordreuil (cello), and poet/artist Eli V Manuscript (textual alchemy, projections).
Within this collaborative framework, James K scores the scream to express the various relations between hysteria and the gender of sound -- a blurred and overlapping feminine sound defined by its fragmentation and resistance to scripted narrative. Elektras presence is emblematic of a radical alienation that occurs as a standing discrepancy to tragic convention. Amongst society, she is the anti-dialogue, a symbol of protest.
my cries are wings, they pierce the cage
Elektras vocalizations pierce through language, revealing a shattered interior of multifaceted reflections constructed against habitual linguistic or vocal expression. In tragic convention, such habitual vocalization takes the shape of the often terse, patriarchal voice of the Greek philosopher -- a didactic, conceptual container in opposition to the expressive becoming of Elektras cries that riot against fixity. As a tragic character, Elektra is radical and alien for Sophocles and his audience -- an ever-present conviction that demonstrates how female shame has constructed a life-size funeral urn around her.
Through translating a text within layers of translations, a fragmentation of the firsthand into traces, James K mirrors Elektras deconstruction of reality into siren shards, offering an experiencing of female sign language as a means of sabotage to the world of normal utterances. By sliding on the edge of convention to sharply abandoning rational speech and sonic construction, Ks piece aims to embody Elektras strained and stretching screams, as cuts against the glass; her sabotage bound within the blanket loop. In response to rigid vocalization and fixed sonic understandings, ELEKTRA (Scream Through the Eyes of a Statue) takes the scream as an unruly, emotive sonic experience projecting outwards into objects and audience: to the very bones of sound.
James K is a New York native multi-disciplinary artist who has honed her peculiar aesthetic to include a fusion of visual and sonic elements. Deeply rooted in a conscious art practice and a mythology of her own, her sound, equally organic and electronic, is a combination of odd dreams, hybridizing enchanted samples, ripped, broken and morphed rhythms, and vocals, both incomprehensible and appealing -- forming a multi-faceted identity. She received her BFA in Printmaking from The Rhode Island School of Design, where she developed a critical multidisciplinary art practice shaped by feminist theory and writing. She has established herself within the Providence, New York, and Berlin scenes of experimental artists and musicians. Since 2012, she has been represented by Loyal Gallery, where she has exhibited solo work in both their Malmo and Stockholm locations, in addition to showing at Miami Art Basel, NY Frieze, and LA Art Contemporary. She has released her music with labels PAN, Dial, 1080p, UNO NYC, and her own label, She Rocks! She has toured through the US and Europe extensively, performing for a variety of audiences; from underground spaces, established galleries, and museums, to well established venues, festivals, and theaters, such as the Münchner Kammerspiele, Moma PS1, Berlin Biennale, and Kunsthalle Bern. She is currently working towards her MFA at Bard College, and will release her follow up full-length LP on PAN.
Eve Essex is a Brooklyn-based musician who performs with alto saxophone, piccolo, voice and electronics. Her first solo album, Here Appear, will be released by Soap Library (cassette) in March, and by Sky Walking (LP) in April 2018. She has performed at Artists Space, Commend, Safe Gallery, Signal, Trans Pecos, and U.S. Blues, in New York, Harlekin/Mathew Gallery and StudioAcht in Berlin, and the PUFFERSS Festival in Providence, RI. In addition to her solo practice, Essex regularly performs as one half of Das Audit (with Craig Kalpakjian), as well as in trios Hesper (with James K and Via App) and HEVM (with MV Carbon and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix), and has collaborated extensively with Juan Antonio Olivares as installation/performance-art duo Essex Olivares.
Via App is an alias of Dylan Scheer, Queens-based electronic producer and performer. She started hosting and playing shows, as well as releasing tapes under the moniker in Boston. From there, she moved to New York in 2014 and quickly became part of the citys experimental electronic scene. Her early live hardware sets got her recognition for their often stark mode of sample manipulation and collage, their dynamic narrative compositions, and their refusal to adhere to any one genre. More recently her live sets have maintained a similar sense of precariousness. Her studio recordings exist, in part, as documentation of her performances and are all recorded live. In 2015 she released 7 Headed, a heavily sample-based techno 12 that received critical acclaim. She has toured Europe and played esteemed festivals such as Moogfest, Sustain-Release, Rewire, and Unsound Festival. IN 2017, she released a 12 on BANK records and her debut LP, Sixth Stitch on Break World Records.
Leila Bordreuil is a Brooklyn-based cellist and composer from France. Her cello playing is often improvised, and focuses on the relationship between the human body and the inherent sonic qualities of her instrument. Essential to her musical aesthetic is the expression of humans neuro-somatic imperfections, which she chooses to magnify through extreme amplification of very quiet playing, revealing microscopic gestures that are otherwise inaudible to the human ear. Her composed works draw from a similar aesthetic but also focus on sound through space and the distortion that arises from spatially organized sound sources. Leilas collaborative projects include duos with Michael Foster and Tamio Shiraishi, a trio with Sean Ali and Joanna Mattrey, and the no-wave band Signal Break with Austin Jullian (Sediment Club) and Evin Huguenin (Sects). She has performed at the Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, The Stone, MoMA PS1, Roulette, the Performa Biennale, Ftarri (Tokyo, JP), the Heresy Series for Women in Sound (Manila, PHL), and many basements across the U.S.
Eli V Manuscript is a poet and artist based in New York City. The texts of Eli V Manuscript are assemblages of poetry and algorithmically-sustained text regenerations that investigate the perversion of language itself as words dissolve into their morphological and phonetic parts to reemerge as new poetic aggregations. The forms themselves range from print based poetry, asemic calligraphy, magic sigils, and augmented voice and sound. The live performances combine text and music which underscore corporeal practices of ritual and meditation accompanied by the amplification of books, inscription utensils, and the act of writing itself. Studies traverse the extreme spectrum of Inscription from the discarded marginalia/sof writing to the potent magic of Sigilization, from Taoist magic script to graffiti tags, and from turtle shell to pixelated screen. V Manuscript runs the small press VILE_TYPE, the reading series The Empty Room, and is half of the performance duo HUMANBEAST.
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