Wednesday, February 24, 2010


The title says it: at the center of attention is the alphabet. In the sense of the single letters. Considered however as elements in and of themselves, gifted in some way with a true semantic individuality: the ideogram A - a hut, C - symbol of the moon ... this is how they were understood by Karel Teige: 1920's Czechoslovakian cultural radical, founder and principle theorist of the Devetsil collective, largest driving force of the local avantgard surrealists. Designer, student of architecture and visual art, Teige attacked with modern force in the exploration of the possiblity of an interweaving of verbal art and optical expression, industrial technology and mass media, inspired by the poem composed in 1923 by compatriot Vitezslav Nezval: at that time involved in Devetsil: Abeceda specifically. The same Nezval said on the subject of opera"It is intellectual exercise around the most elemental poetic object: the letters of the alphabet.". Language taken back to its minimal terminology, to the essence of spelling and fonetics of its building blocks in which derive the rhymeing quarters of every letter - 25 in total - of the latin alphabet. Ulterior developments of Abeceda made the ominous volume realized three years after Teige, that applied the notion of "poeticism" on the live body of Nezval's opera, that is, the symbiosis between visual and verbal signs which position the same fundamentals of Devetsil. In his words "The artistic fruit of Poetism is negligent, fantastic, exuberant, playful, anti-heroic and erotic.".
Conceived and built as a poetic dialogue between text and images, Abeceda manifests still now the real extraordinary expressive urgency. They are established elements, as well as the verses of Nezval, the photography of Karel Paspa that paints the suggested figuration from the original text on the dancer and choreographer Milca Mayerova (she also, like the same Paspa, adhered to the Devitsil movement). Factors combined from Teige with imprint photomontage techniques, "I have tried to create a photo-style of an exquistely abstract and poetic nature, translating in graphic form that which Nezval expressed in his verses as verbal poetry.", chiosava the author. Drawn into cultural oblivion following the annexation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, the memory of Abeceda has resurfaced only recently. In 2001, when the work was at the center of the exhibition Dreams and Disillusions - Karel Teige and the Czech Avant-garde at the Grey Art Gallery in New York (occasions in which were presented the video of the subject of the year before at Wolfsonian-Florida International University), and again in the last months, inserted in the basic theme of the exposition Modernism - Designing a New World (1914 - 1939) hosted by the London museum Victoria & Albert.
Teige and the other members of Devetsil would have certainly liked the ulterior declination of Abeceda built by Larsen. The Turinian group, active for more than ten years (a passage documented by six albums, the last and most recent being Seies), that communicate an eclectic and multi-disciplined approach to musical material. Specimen, in that sense, the work done years ago by Winsor McKay with his cartoons, put to music by Larsen under the wording of Cartoanimalettimatti (a project premiered in 2002 during the festival Rimusicazioni) and in general the stateless attitude with which the quartet measures the codes of rock, after the zeroing of the same rock provoked by punk, as such to make Larsen more appreciated abroad than in their own country. Reasons for which the artistic interlocutors of the Turinian group tend to place themselves beyond borders. American are both the labels - Young God and Important Records -- that have released their music so far, and many of their partners seen often by their side, Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) - in the configuration called XXL, or Matmos and the ex-Swans Michael Gira and Jarboe. All icons of the independent music scene across the ocean.
Some of these accomplices will play with Larsen on Abeceda : David Tibet, brain of the british "apocalyptic" project Current 93, project that also involves Baby Dee, transgender cult icon from the Manhattan off scene, same underground the cello player Julia Kent, of Antony and The Johnsons, belongs to, whereas Johann Johannsson, musician and producer that has worked with Marc Almond and Barry Adamson, comes from Island. Also on stage with the band will be the russian performer and choreographer Snejanka Mihaylova; together with Larsen, and the visuals by the Bellissimo team inspired by Tiege's Abeceda, they will set up a concert/performance in 25 movements, one for each letter of the latin alphabet; elaborate and fascinating staging, exclusive worldwide preview for the Torino Settembre Musica festival and its audience.

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