Review: David Toop and Rie Nakajima: Sculpture 3 at Central Saint Martins

One of Rie Nakajima's tiny sound-emitting objects at Sculpture 3.
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2014. All rights reserved


David Toop and Rie Nakajima
(Sculpture 3, event 1 of 3 in Offering Rites. Central Saint Martins, 31 March 2014; report and drawings by Geoff Winston)

David Toop, musician, commentator and Chair of Audio Culture and Improvisation at University of the Arts London (UAL), first discovered Rie Nakajima's sound-sculptural work when both performed at a Fukushima benefit event at Cafe Oto in 2012. Subsequently, Nakajima became an Associate Artist at Cafe Oto and she recently received the Arts Foundation Award in the Experimental Music category.

They combined forces to curate Sculpture 3, the first event in Toop's Offering Rites series, by inviting and briefing around ten musicians/artists/performers (including themselves) to present works of up to 15 minutes duration in an uninterrupted sequence, at the Studio Theatre at Central Saint Martins. Each work had to be conceived as a sculpture.

Toop's declaration, in conversation with Nakajima on Resonance FM, that he was becoming bored with the temporal rituals of conventional music performance was supplemented, in his manifesto for Offering Rites, by his cogent remarks on the perils of recent artistic practice with its over-emphasis on theoretical justification, which are 'invariably pulling non-verbal experience back into the domain of talk and text'.

The resulting experience was a lively assemblage of provocative and diverse performances, held together by the benign wing and prayer of mutual values and intentions.

Charles Hayward's opening salvo, a 15 minute snare drum solo in the concourse, was the model of concentration and energised articulation. The audience - cast, perhaps, as passive participants - was led through a field of Nakajima's tiny, mischievously constructed, motorised, sound-creating objects to the theatre where Pierre Berthet grappled with flailing flexible tubes, fast flowing air currents and scraps of concrete to force out a spectacle of extruded noise. In its wake, cellist Anton Lukoszevieze carved a tense, subdued backdrop for Lore Lixenberg's hovering vocal strains as she imperiously advanced slowly across the performance area before retracing her steps, maintaining her vocal pitch.


Anton Lukoszevieze and Lore Lixenberg at Sculpture 3.
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2014. All rights reserved


Adam Bohman worked his way round a trestle table strewn with a plethora of miscellaneous found objects, activating and engaging them with violin bow and metal files in keenly disciplined improvisatory spirit. In contrast, Daniel Jackson and two women vocalists responded to screen-based pulses to speak the words, 'I', 'You', 'Me' when prompted, which in the case of 'I', the audience could follow in its studio wall projection. Jennifer Allum, seated in the gloom at the back of the auditorium, wrought an introspective, flickering flight on solo violin, followed by Toop and Nakajima performing together - each intently focused on creating complementary sounds from their own instrumental armories. The sculptor moved around the space to position and activate tiny machines, with a sprinkling of the independent anarchy that Jean Tinguely pioneered, while Toop took to strings, electronics and the amplification of the peripheral.


Adam Bohman in mid-flight at Sculpture 3.
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2014. All rights reserved


The invasion of Edwina Ashton's bug-headed performance gang had a deliberately incidental, wayward momentum that gave way to Hayward's reappearance, pushing a laden trolly and voicing an urban, railway blues - fortuitously appropriate for the venue's location on old railway territory behind St Pancras - before exiting the space in a gesture of finality.

Whether all the performances could strictly be accepted as sculpture, rather than understood as sound/music-based pieces is a point that could fuel some healthy dialogues. It was certainly an interesting step on the way to integrating music, theatre and sculptural practice and a most stimulating event.

Sculptors/performers (in order of appearance):

Charles Hayward: (1) snare drum
Rie Nakajima: objects
Pierre Berthet: various
Lore Lixenberg: mezzo-soprano with Anton Lukoszevieze: cello
Adam Bohman: various
Daniel Jackson and 2 vocalists: voices and computer-generated images/prompts
Jennifer Allum: violin
David Toop: various instruments
Edwina Ashton: costumed performance troupe
Charles Hayward: (2) various

Offering Rites continues on 5 April (Archive Breathing) and 12 April (Beyond the Object) at CSM, both at 19.30hrs, free admission.

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