Tanztheater’s Kontakthof: a probing confessional collage of dance, music and speech
Varèse 360° Southbank Centre, 16th-18th April, Tel: 0871 663 2583 Edgard Varèse was the tragic figure among modern music’s founding fathers. He dreamed of a music of the future, made by as-yet unknown instruments powered by electricity. Born in Paris in 1883, Varèse moved to the US during the first world war, but his hopes of finding a sympathetic hearing there were soon dashed. His life was a continual battle against uncomprehending audiences and a sceptical scientific establishment, which listened politely to the wild-haired Frenchman’s requests for help and then showed him the door.
Beaten down by depression and opposition, it’s not surprising that Varèse’s oeuvre was small. But the works he managed to complete are masterly. Lacking the instruments he envisioned, he assembled choirs of brass, wind and percussion and fashioned an extraordinary, brazen music, with a savage beauty at once ancient and futuristic. His influence can be seen on younger composers and on pop musicians such as Björk and Scanner. Now, nearly 50 years after his death, Varèse’s time seems to have come. In April his complete works can be heard over three days at the Southbank Centre, performed by the London Sinfonietta and the National Youth Orchestra. Ivan Hewett is the Telegraph’s music critic
Oil Stick Work (Angelo Martinez/ Richfield, Kansas) by John Gerrard Canary Wharf underground station, 25th March 2010-25th March 2011 The longest film ever made is having its British premiere. Marvellous as it is, you don’t have to rush to see it—it’ll be on for a year.
In the last decade, the use of 3D modelling software borrowed from the computer games industry has become a subgenre in art. These efforts have occasionally been witty and entertaining—see digital artist Cory Arcangel’s reworkings of Nintendo classics—but never iconic or monumental. Until now, that is, with Irish artist John Gerrard’s Oil Stick Work, a 120-sq metre, 30-year long film which is being projected in real time onto a wall in Canary Wharf station.
A camera tracks slowly round and round a large aluminium grain silo in a barren landscape—the American west. For the 36-year-old Gerrard, this is a symbol of the effects of intensive farming, presented in a minimalist style that makes one think of Donald Judd and the Bechers. It carries the eerie and mesmerising atmosphere of places…