Loggia, Various Others, Munich
In recent years, the programs of both spaces have overlapped in terms of featured artists. The upcoming exhibition presents a cross-section of Damien & The Love Guru's program that has not yet been shown in connection with Loggia.
Slow Reading Club
Sharon Van Overmeiren
An absence for a presence
It begins with an invitation. An invitation to join, to gather, to find oneself within the other. An invitation to a funeral. Along comes an invitation to write a text. A speech as an end to the common ground. In the context of a global pandemic, gathering for a burial is vital. The film begins with a still frame of the obituary of Annie’s mother. At her funeral, Annie would describe her mother as a very secretive and private woman that had private rituals, private friends, private anxieties. Mother and daughter were estranged. There is a noticeable unease in Annie’s speech, for death is here the beginning, not a relief. Later, during a group session for the departed loved ones, Annie would say that her mother didn’t have an easy life. She had dissociative identity disorder and dementia. Her husband had psychotic depression and starved himself when Annie was a baby. Her son, Annie’s brother, had schizophrenia and hung himself in their mother’s bedroom when he was 16. He left a note accusing their mother of putting people inside him. This was the life of Annie’s mother. This is the life of Annie. This is the life of a family.
When I arrived a few months ago, the city was still forcibly held asleep. I came with the last snow at night, in the middle of the lockdown. The winds had been set free, stripping down anyone wandering through the wide and empty urban arteries to the bone. Life had turned inwards. Curled in the palms of our living spaces, the heteronormative family had been declared the only legal social unit. For all the various others were left apart. In this city with no name yet, I missed the noise and the trouble and the friends I had chosen. To break down the distance, and sometimes palliate a feeling of loss, an obsession began to feverishly take possession of my days. The pursuit of sound. From morning until evening, I was on the lookout for audio components to play music. I was reading countless threads in forums and watching numerous reviews of products. When my listening system was finally assembled, an execution of compositions was pouring into my room. Life was being put in order by codes, arrangements and notations. The sound had been sold to me bit-perfect and in high-fidelity. The price was high. My blind neoliberal quest for equipment had opened a world dominated by men seeking sonic purity. From the very design and circuit engineering to the placement of gear in the room, components had to be separated in order to not corrupt each other. Most of all, power had to be physically relocated in separate units to avoid electrical interference. Resonance, distortion, jitter, hiss, vibrations and noises of any kind had to be controlled, canceled or ideally, suppressed. In its quest for purity, high-end audio had become a system of death where every voice, note and noise that didn’t sound right was excluded as disturbance.
Her son was laying in his bed eyes wide open. His sleepless face resting on his hands bound in a prayer on his pillow. Downstairs, Annie was chatting briefly with her husband before grabbing her keys. She said back in 20 as she was leaving the house. We heard the door of a car being opened. A brief moment passed and instead of the usual sound of turning on the engine, a guttural scream reached us. Time passed and the screams would continue on in the bedroom where Annie was now kneeling on the wooden floor, her husband vainly trying to be of any support. She was moving her body back and forth and her screams were turning into wails were turning into laments. Her daughter’s body was sitting, headless, in the backseat of the car. She wanted to die for the pain was unbearable. To endure the loss of her child, she went into a final labour. Her daughter was dead. Her daughter was borne. Then came silence.
When the last faceless guest left the house after the funeral, the entrance was sealed from within. The following tilt-shifted frame of the whole estate made me the witness of the horror to come. While I was sit-laying on my bed late that night, my IEMs - these chicken heart-shaped devices inserted into my ears - made me fully grasp the settling claustrophobia. At the house, the muted tension at the dinner table between the left members of the family was merging into the low frequency of a distant rave was merging into a heartbeat pulsating in my chest. Annie’s mother was a member of a cult devoting its cause to the summoning of a spirit that was meant to establish a new order in this world. Charlie’s grandmother had named her Charles. She wanted her to be a boy, for matching the hosting body with the spirit was of great importance. But to fully reveal himself, the king to come needed the body of a male and Annie’s daughter Charlie was sacrificed.
Matching audio gear is where the individual personality comes to light. The quest for purity eventually crystallizes one’s own vision of their world. It is also the threshold between pragmatic design and rational measurements and personal claims and beliefs. In the world of hi-fi, the practice of tweaking and the careful placement of certain objects in a room could appear as obscure rituals. It is not uncommon to see stones of different sorts placed on the components of a system. Or tweaks, like room neutralizers, to make the air more compliant for frequencies to travel at the same speed. Sometimes, you would also come across room harmonizers named black diamonds, blue suns or black stones. Harmony comes at a high price. The role of matchmakers is less to consider individual needs and desires, but more about minimizing the trouble, reducing the noise and silencing gossips. The future joining parties give away their voice for the broader family to strive socially and economically. With portable high-end audio, IEMs became the equivalent of the loudspeakers in a stationary system with the exception that the room and its average-to-bad acoustics are suppressed. What is sold to the portable high-end enthusiast is the power to silence by isolating themselves from the surrounding noise to the rhythm of their moods and tastes. Enjoy the silence.
Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can’t you understand?
Oh, my little girl
All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm
Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
The origin of the word pandemic comes from the Greek pan (all) and demos (people). Affecting all of us, this exceptional situation revealed how our sense of survival is well composed. Isolated within the frame of our walls, every action felt like a tiny revolution. The unexpected was already expected and within this closed-circuit, actions turned into re-enactments. Annie was absorbed with her work when her husband came in. Dinner was ready. Sitting with her back towards him, she was meticulously reproducing the scene of the accident. Annie was focusing on painting the tiny ants that were feeding on her daugher’s ripped off head. It was part of an ongoing work that had been commissioned by a gallery for a public exhibition set to open in a few months. Annie had suppressed her emotions. As a model maker, she was processing Charlie’s death into an economy by selling the story of her family. Each member was being turned into a currency within the miniature dioramas in her studio. She was implementing their muted voices into her narrative. In high-end audio, implementation was of great importance. Done well, it would re ne and maximize the potential of each of the parts in a system. Annie was patiently reconstructing, scene by scene, her life into a coherent ensemble. To conclude a traumatic succession of losses, she was looking for clues in her accurate reproductions of a life were mother and daughter were still competing breast to breast to feed baby Charlie. All these years, her mother had turned herself unreachably inward. She had dedicated her life to the completion of a final ritual and every member of her family was a potential resource to serve her ambition. In the lights of the promised riches, the members of her brood could be expelled and their bodies swapped and sacri ced, for she was the conjurer.
The night was deep when I woke up. Walking back from the bathroom, I saw my daughter sitting in the bed. She had been ill the last two days and wanted to cuddle. Of course. When I opened my eyes in the morning, my throat was sore and my head aching. Initially, I had planned to work the whole week on a text since she was now going to the crib. But we decided to stay at home, so she could rest. I was getting sick. I was sick the following day and the one after that. On the last day dedicated to my working schedule, I was taking a train for 8 hours during which I could finally work. The rail workers thought otherwise and went on a strike. The ersatz train was over filled with people standing for hours between seats. Surrounded by the silent noise of screens, the initial deadline felt like a curse and my computer remained in my backpack. The duration of the trip could have been like the one of a night out with friends to the exception that the train was crowded beyond the most permissive regulations. Communal gatherings such as raves or protests were still prohibited and repressed. The moving wagons attached to each other were locked on the tracks at high speed like a needle in a record groove. The force they were moved by was not measured in revolutions per minute, but in currencies. Us. We were grateful to be allowed to travel in the first place, muted back-to-back behind our masks while a strike was going on.
Hidden from the daily eyes, every sleeping room in the house had a tiny obscure inscription on a wall. Annie seemed the only one to notice. After another session for the departed loved ones, a woman, sharing the loss of her own children, introduced herself to Annie. One evening she told her that Charlie wasn’t gone. Seeing Annie in disbelief, she handed her out a page to be read out loud once home so she could see for herself. There was a noticeable unease in Annie’s execution for those words were not hers. She was re-enacting a precise composition, and I was the only witness. When she tried to show to her husband and son that Charlie was among them, the air started flexing. Something was wrong. She would soon enough understand that every action, even ready-made, implied a responsibility. From that moment on, her suppressed emotions broke the silence. She tore into pieces her ongoing work that had consisted of miniature dioramas of important scenes from her life. Annie at school. At the hospital. At her brother’s funerals.
Annie pregnant. Dreaming one night, she did admit to her son that she never wanted to be a mother. Her son asked her why, and she replied that she couldn’t but had been pressured. She had tried everything to break her lineage but it didn’t work. Awake, she was now loving him by choice. While her son was at school, she took upon herself to go through her mother’s things. Taken from a cardboard box, she opened a book about obscure rituals. Her eyes eventually stopped on the illustration of a king. Another page was showing a person called the conjurer, sitting on a pile of riches. She then grabbed a photo album. For the first time, images of her mother surrounded by her private entourage during various gatherings were flipping past under her eyes. It was the family that her mother chose. Annie then realised that her deceased father and brother, herself, her daughter Charlie and finally her son, were all part of a refined script, carried on and performed to perfection by her mother’s close circle. Under siege from within, the family home was no longer a sanctuary, but a crumbling fortress. In distress, Annie understood that there was no family curse. The family was the curse. She grabbed anxiously another book. Inserted between the pages was a card, addressed to her by her deceased mother.
My darling, dear, beautiful Annie,
Forgive me all the things I could not tell you. Please, don’t hate me and try not
to dispair your losses. You will see in the end that they were worth it.
Our sacrifice will pale next to the rewards.