That was the week that was, the other week, that is

posted: 09 May, 2012

I'm still dazed from all of the awesomeness last week, beginning out of the La-Bas 'Concept of Performance' biennale in Helsinki, which ran from 25-29 April. I already posted about the DIS/Orientations workshop I co-led on Sunday, which was really the beginning of an unforgettable week - amazing people, brilliant performances, and a real feeling like we were trying some new ideas here.

After the workshop was a lovely post-festival comedown, all set on Harakka, where lots of the bizarre and wonderful people I had spent the week with enjoyed a sauna and campfire on the back of the island. Returning to Tallinn seemed impossible mentally as well as physically, but there was a pretty intense gauntlet of activities waiting here.

A few months ago, when I realised that a plethora of creative forces were aligning in Tallinn during the first week of May, I thought to organise a mini-festival around it all. I drafted up a  plan for Unknown Feathers: A Festival of participation in the experimental arts before realising that I was starting to overdo it. I have such a tendency to expand things and overload what would be already a busy week; call it 'festival bloat' perhaps, but it's a real problem, and I didn't need to pack the week even more. As it was too late to seek any sort of financial assistance, I wisely shelved the idea of Unknown Feathers for a later date and just focused on making the already-scheduled events happen.

Dr. Felicity Ford arrived on Monday. She's going to MoKS for a month-long residency to investigate the "deep wool" connection in Estonia, which is supported by the British Council Estonia. We met up Monday night and showed her Slothrop's, and ended up recording an impromptu podcast - a bit of a departure from our regular efforts, without Binx present, but still a good deal of fun.

On Tuesday, Alexei Borisov and Patrick McGinley arrived. Alexei is a legend of experimental music in Russia, and we set up a concert at Kodu Baar that was originally intended to be the kick-off event of the non-festival. It still effectively was a kick-off to a week of greatness. Patrick, performing as his Murmer project, did a brilliant set that used the total space of Kodu in a way I haven't seen before, drawing the audience closer to engage with slowly unfolding resonant sounds. Patrick and Alexei collaborated briefly at the end, and it was a nice balance of energy and deep listening - perfect for a Tuesday night. Also on the bill was the Raw Synth Sound Lounge project, led by Hobilabor's Toomas Savi and Rene Rebane - a workshop on synth building that slowly turned into a band, the five participants experimented with homemade electronics and actually honored the "lounge" term in their name.

Thursday, daytime, was Felicity's Instant Clothes Museum workshop, which she's already detailed wonderfully on her own blog, so here's a link to it. 

In the evening, my pet project on alternative currencies had it's first (and possibly last) manifestation in Tallinn. Though I previously thought alternate currencies were purely a Discordian pipe dream, Christian Nold's Bijlmer Euro project illustrated the full potential that such a project can have. I met Christian last year at Pixelache in Helsinki, where he is working on a currency-based project on Suomenlinna. Since then, I've dreamt of assembling the various artist-run projects, small creative centres, and cultural organisations to discuss how we might implement a local currency in Tallinn. This night, which Justin dubbed 'Make it Rain', featured three presentations: Christian (via Skype), Rainer Eidemuller from the Pank in Paide, and Kaspars Lielgalvis from Totaldobze in Riga. After the presentations, we ate some excellent lentil dahl, prepared by Felicity, and began to discuss as an open group how these currency project might or might not work in Tallinn. It was an extremely stimulating discussion, though I'm not sure what we concluded. But the event overall is exactly the type of event I love the most - one that is inclusive, cross-discipline, constructive, and casual.

Friday, the Totaldobze gang presented their Idearium interactive installation in the garden of Tiib. We were lucky to have great weather and a great turnout; there were many ideas planted, good food, and a nice time had by all.

At midnight on Friday we held a slumber party, this month's installment of the GFYP variety party. Called GgggggggggFffffffffrrrrrrrrYyyyyyyymmmmPppppzzzzz (to create maximum confusion, of course), this was my second attempt at an all-night low-key event. This idea actually goes back over ten years, where Luke Ferdinand and I would talk about how much we would love to have an 'anti-rave' - an event where we would listen to minimalist music, quietly, and sleep. I tried this in Helsinki in 2010 with Antarctica Starts Here, but the night, while fun, failed to be the immersive sleep-saturated audiovisual feast I dreamt of.

I'm pleased that it worked well in Tallinn - it was a dream, really, with some actual dreaming probably taking place. Laurence Boyce began with 'Coming Soon', his personal history of film trailers. Kimbal Bumstead (UK) did a performative presentation of his travel-based projcet, Vertically Down.  Kaspars and I DJ'd quiet, minimal records (Robert Ashley's Automatic Writing, Eno, Pelt, etc.) in between, and very very late (maybe 4:00?) Felicity began to present her field recordings from the British wool industry. As people slowly fell asleep to the sounds of farmers and sheep, Villem Jahu, Patrick, and myself began to play improvised music, spread across two rooms of mostly sleeping participants, which continued roughly until 6 AM.

Then, just as suddenly, everyone was gone. The week, a smash success, again made me grateful for all of the incredible people I've gotten to build my life around, and it's been hard to adjust without the presence of Felicity, Patrick, Kimbal, the Latvians, and of course all of the Tallinn regulars who always make life great here. But this weekend is Camp Pixelache 2012, so I'm off to Helsinki in a few hours to immerse myself in another batch of amazing people and ideas.