To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in
Recognition of their Desperation

Installation with Super 16mm film / HD, 18 min., 2013

Performance: Rachel Aggs, Peaches, Catriona Shaw, Verity Susman, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, William Wheeler

Six performers are pushing towards a paradigm shift in the future. They are following the score “To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation,“ which the composer Pauline Oliveros wrote in 1970 after reading the text “Scum Manifesto“ by Valerie Solanas (who is also known for shooting Andy Warhol).

Oliveros‘s composition asks the performers to choose five pitches each and to play very long tones, modulated or unmodulated. In the middle section of the piece the performers are invited to imitate each other‘s pitches and modulations. The cues in this piece are given collectively through light - a red section is followed by a yellow and a blue section, and there are two additional cues given by strobe light. If anyone becomes dominant, the rest of the group should come up and absorb that dominance back into the texture of the piece, “expressing at the deep structure what the SCUM Manifesto meant. ... It was really out of that understanding of both community and the individual–which was in her manifesto–that became the principle, or the philosophy, of the music that I began to write.“ (Oliveros)

The piece “To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation“ values the unpredictable and unknowable possibilities that might be activated by not specifying pitches and rhythms. Nothing is known in advance of making the music. The instructions are chosen in order to insist on “a continuous circulation of power“ (Oliveros) between listening and sounding - a give and take that requires, as Oliveros says, an unusual attention to the relationship between oneself and others. The film introduces the 16mm-camera as an additional performer, who constantly moves and interacts with individuals or groups of performers. The whole performance of the piece is shot in one continuous take, while only the editing process introduces extreme close ups which highlights a fetishist interest into details of bodies, instruments and costumes.

The work poses the question of the possibilities and limits of a politics of musical and filmic forms. Can sounds, rhythms and light produce queer relations? Can they become revolutionary?

Informations on the installation:

Super 16mm / HD Video
18 min.
Director of Photography: Bernadette Paassen
Second Unit: Nadja Kurtz
Sound: Johanna Wienert, Rashad Becker
Set Photography: Andrea Thal
Color Correction: Matthias Behrens (Waveline)
Sound Design: Rashad Becker