Possible Musics – Within the framework of the festival L’envers du décor
With Vidal Benjamin, Jan Schulte, Andrew Pekler & Lena Willikens
February 2nd, 2019, Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris, 19:30
Initiated by Goethe-Intitut Paris
Invited by Nguyen Phuong-Dan
European art and popular music have always been influenced and inspired by the desire for and fascination of the foreign. Converging to the myth of the exotic and its ambivalences via performative and musical contributions, Hamburg-based cultural anthropologist and DJ Nguyen Phuong-Dan and the Goethe-Institut of Paris have collaboratively conceptualized Possible Musics.
The program starts off with Jan Schulte and Vidal Benjamin performing a listening session dedicated to so-called Library Music. Here, the archives offer a broad range of musical styles and genres mainly used for movies, TV and radio– categorized by region, country or continent. By applying Library Music to a back to back DJ-set, its functional character turns into a subject of deliberate and critical listening. On the one hand, generic acoustic imaginations and interpretations of foreign cultures are reproduced. Then again, the DJs’ individual appropriation, selection and choice of sequence opens up another perspective and listening experience – able to transgress cultural-geographic attributions.
The second part of the evening rediscovers a vision of global music established during the 1980s to transcend national and cultural frontiers. Adapted by the American trumpeter and composer Jon Hassel, the so-called Fourth World Concept still inspires a whole generation of today’s artists, among others Andrew Pekler and Lena Willikens.
Phantom Islands, an interactive online map created by sound artist Andrew Pekler, draws on the history of 27 islands that have once been discovered on sea charts, connecting them to speculative sounds of each single location. Therefore, Phantom Islands represents artefacts of the age of maritime discovery and colonial expansion. Although the insular entities had been sighted, described and subject to research, their existence has not been ultimately verified.
Subsequently, Lena Willikens deploys her club-set to explore cultural and geographical barriers. Beginning with her own artistic praxis, Willikens reflects on sources of her musical inspiration, concomitant cultural appropriation and – eventually – ways to deal with it.