SI audio podcast #3: Andy Beckerman remembers the wild kindness of David Berman

posted August 18, 2019 10:23

photo: the host + the guest, sometime in 2004 or 2005.

I dusted off the microphones to record the first Serious Introspection audio podcast in over two years. Sadly, the occasion was the passing of David Berman, poet and musician, whose death has affected me immensely. I called up Andy, a comedy writer and proper podcaster based in Los Angeles, to talk about Berman's work and what he meant to us and to so many others.

Even if you weren't a Silver Jews fan, you might enjoy our conversation. We talk about public mourning, avatars of America, the America that never existed, Otherness and art, irony and honesty, Judaism, propagating values through culture, support systems, kindness, empathy for the MAGA, and the quality of light on the West coast. Notes and links relating to our discussion appear below. 

Andy Beckerman / Beginnings podcast / Couples Therapy podcast

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Serious Introspection special episode @ Nida - 'The Shutout'

posted July 10, 2019 07:50

There's some cliché about old dogs and new tricks that I always mangle, but clichés are better when stated incorrectly. It's been over three years since I (John) hosted a regular live talk show with Justin and Ernest, but we brought the act out again for a special reunion performance at the Nida Art Colony's ninth inter-format symposium, 'On the Fluidity of Humour and Absurdity' in Nida, Lithuania. It was fun to do it again, and we were joined by guest Dafna Maimon, old friend Vytautas Michelkevičius, and some random people from the audience. This was presented as the 'lounge' event after a long day of art symposium presentations, performances, and talks, so the audience, all crowded into a small room with a bunch of absurdly constructed furniture courtesy of Justin, was pretty exhausted. But yet a stronger sense of anarchy existed here than at any of our performances in Finland; at least audience members took to the stage, someone fell through a table, and someone tried to set me on fire.

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Serious Introspection returns!

posted June 21, 2019 07:57

For the first time in three years, Serious Introspection will convene, this time at the Nida Art Colony 9th Inter-format Symposium. The full lineup of host John, hype man Justin, and meta-media specialist Ernest will be there, as part of the Error Collective 'lounge' on Saturday, 29 June. The theme of the symposium is absurdity and humour, so I don't really understand why they invited a show about seirous introspection. Anyway, the symposium is a closed event so there's little point in advertising it here, but we'll try to videorecord and post it, just like the old days.

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January 2019: Festival of the Not, Newcastle

posted January 03, 2019 12:21

I'm delighted to return to Newcastle this month, once again as part of a production by CIRCA Projects + Giles Bailey. This time it's a festival, entitled Festival of the Not and taking place at the newly re-opened Star & Shadow Cinema. I'm thrilled to be part of this, as our work together in the summer of 2017 was an incredible experience, and I've also been following the Star & Shadow's activities remotely (ever since performing there in Lied Music, with Mark Vernon, back in 2010).

I will be participating in a discussion with artist Louwrien Wijers on art and economics, but also leading a workshop/working group throughout the festival built around experimental documentation. If you would like to participate in this project – called Documentation of the Not – you can register for it here. Some more about the workshop, quoted from my proposal:

Cultural experiences are documented and disseminated for multiple purposes: for social media, to please funders, to establish press kits and CVs, etc. Traditionally, the role of documentation falls under the administrative team, sometimes with professional photographers or videographers involved (if budget allows). The dominance of social media has decentralised documentation, at least that which is not the ‘official’ part of the festival. But generally, the format of documentation remains constant: experiential (in personalised, social media contexts using images and video) or quantitative (in reports to funders, with statistics, etc.).

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October activities: Radio of Changes @ Urbanapa x Ateneum, talk in Nashville

posted December 27, 2018 10:11

Hi!  I am part of the Radio of Changes project with Emily & Roy Boswell. We are conducting live hexagram readings on the top floor of Ateneum museum in Helsinki all this week, for a radio broadcast that goes throughout the festival. The hexagram readings will be broadcast as well as some radio dramas we have worked on, interviews, documentation of the festival and some other content. More information (and our hexagrams, which can be consulted online) can be found at www.ofchanges.fi.

Later this month, I'll be in Nashville, TN, talking about my work with Biathlon/Temporary/Kuusi Palaa. The event, Building decentralized culture structures in Helsinki, will be a talk followed by an open discussion. It takes place at Fort Houston on 29 October at 18:00, and you can register for this (it's free!) via this Eventbrite link.

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Kuusi Palaa: view from within season one

posted April 25, 2018 11:04

The Biathlon system that I have been co-developing since 2016 has been in use at Kuusi Palaa, a cooperatively operated project space in Helsinki. Kuusi Palaa opened on 1 March 2018 and will run at least until the end of June. The idea for Kuusi Palaa was to continue using the Biathlon tools that Temporary used (and operating in the same physical space), but to further decentralise the financing and become a legal cooperative. So now, instead of just the content and day-to-day operations being spread over a large and open mix of people, the paying of the rent and bills is also shared.

We did this through a simple extension of the Temporary cultural currency model. All activities are still produced using our own internal points system (called 'Kuusi Palaa points' and abbreviated with a ᵽ sign), and these points are still given to people for attending and participating in the events. But anyone can also buy a 'stake', which costs 50€, makes you a legal member/owner of Kuusi Palaa, gives you a key for 24/7 access, and comes with 500 Kuusi Palaa points attached (the equivalent of showing up 250 times to the 'open' times, or attending 50 normal events). People can buy multiple stakes, and organisations can also buy them for a price of 75€ each. Kuusi Palaa itself as a centralised body exists only to have a bank account, collect the stake money, and spend it on rent and bills. Kuusi Palaa is forbidden from ever applying for a grant or public funding under its own centralised identity; members are encouraged to seek their own funding for their projects through whatever means they normally would and support KP through the purchasing of stakes.

The plan was to sell four months of stakes at a time, thus requiring KP to only be in an existential fund-raising crisis three times per year. If there aren't enough stakes to fund the next season, we give up and quit.

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