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masters of ceremony
{roleplay in contemporary culture}

Within our themes of research, Szeemann and archive, I decided to write a text and conduct interviews with professionals, namely entrepreneurs, concerning their personal practices and public roles. The purpose mainly is to relate similarities of multidisciplinary or multicultural works within the context of creativity being a fluid medium, muses with interchangeable faces. For example, Szeemann as a man of theater and an independent curator and my experience with art, curating and music.

The series of interviews reflect conceptualized methodologies of "archive" and "masters of ceremony" based on each individuals practice to further investigate the meditative qualities and ritualistic relationship amongst visual artists, performers, etc. that cross disciplines while relating personalities, arcane arts and sciences, through zodiac analysis and hobby based influences on ones work.

This document serves as a source of contemplation and exploration of what we define as archive and master of ceremony in relation to cultural/historical contributions within our chosen practice(s) / profession(s) in contemporary culture.

[|"Music lives in time, unfolds in time. So does ritual."
- Evan Finsenburg, The Recording Angel

Performance begins as soon as you enter the stage. As a performer, your job is to read and interact with your audience through call and response, in other words, give the people what they need by feeding them emotionally and intellectually. As the audience, your job is to feed the vulnerability of the performer through response to call : rejection creates a void. If you are a skilled performer, and accept your role from the moment you make yourself visible up until the very end of your performance, you facilitate the environment to build a rapport with your audience, creating a mutually beneficial experience. Harald Szeemann (11 June 1933-18 Feb 2005), being a man of theater, knew this and it shows in his practice and with his sense of timing in his performance as an independent curator.

Szeemann studied theater (as well as archeology, art history and journalism), which evolved into curating art shows, from 2-D work to installation to performance. Szeemann, as a Gemini / (AstroBaby), typically produced works of communications with multi-faceted aspects, as Geminis seek to keep things new through constant mental stimulation : they tend to bore easily. As a male Gemini, he may have suffered a bit from what one may refer to as "the peter pan syndrome." Meaning, he had no interest in growing up, or rather, he had no intention of out growing his subject matter. He was more interested in exhausting the possibilities to infinity, border lining obsessive. In his own words, he "lived in the museum in his head"...and lived to manifest many of his ideas.

As a curator with a theater background, Szeemann integrated his ability for performance with visual display. Knowing he had a keen interest in psychology, and from study and observation, I gather he was able to successfully incorporate very basic concepts, for example, child development skills (cognitive learning) within his exhibition displays through creating exhibitions that required the audience to physically interact with the works of artists. I also believe that he was a bit of a voyeur, as he observed the interactions of his audience (including the media) to prove that his work was effective. He controlled every element within his environment through his selection of artists, selections of work, and calculated displays.

They say a great man creates great discussion and there has been plenty dialogue regarding Szeemann. Some claim he was a genius while others beg to differ. We know today that in honor of the living and deceased, it is fashion to capitalize on controversy and Szeemann made plenty in his time. Also very typical of Gemini, as they are intensely private and complex characters. Hard to understand and pin down, they attract many spectating admirers and sideline critics alike.

Throughout his career, Szeemann is often quoted to have called his work "spiritual guest work." He exhibited European, American and Asian artists, incorporating multi-media works, with themes based on conceptual abstractions of parallel worlds, mythology, utopia, social politics, etc. with an air of contravention. He worked with artists such as Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Chris Cunningham, Rebecca Horn, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono and Le Monte Young, to name a few. He received allot of slack during a large portion of his career as he was practicing during a time when such risk taking innovation was not common practice. I particularly find this interesting, as it high lights the idea of multiculturalism in the times of war and revolution, not only in the respect to ethnicity and race, but also to artistic practices. While studying la Fabbrica, Szeemann’s archive located in Maggia, Switzerland, I also noticed a very small corner that was labeled "DJ corner," which brings me back to performance.

As a DJ/musician/performer, etc. you assume many roles, quite similar to the curator. This is, I feel, a bit of an instinctive and intuitive art, a role that has been a bit down played in the "real world." For instance, upon the emergence of the DJ, gigging musicians and and many record industry folk did not respect the DJ as an artist, or a worthy ally, but viewed them more as a living juke box and tended to belittle the importance of the role of the DJ in music history. It seems the same is relevant with respect to the curator, where it is common that curators double as art critics or even artists while people gripe about curators taking the "rock star status" or overcasting the light from individual artists. I find it quite comical but, unfortunately, this seems to be a real living matter in the minds of skeptics, thus breeding misdirected and misguided preconceptions and prejudices towards the evolution of self representation within hybrid and niche crafts.

To be an artist, curator, musician, etc. (i.e. visionary) you have to have a hunger for it as you are always, in a sense, on a hunt. You are always in the position of discovering and assembling a sound, a vision, an experience. You are materializing a thought, creating an atmosphere and an environment of call and response, as master of ceremony of sorts, reminiscent of many cultural rituals.

Relative to the theme of archive, practice is nothing without know how, the building of ones technique. You gain wisdom through applied knowledge, through experience, creating a personalized "archive," be it physical materials or memory, the emotional and intellectual control of mood is the highest form of connection and the secret to communication, as a whole, for the human race / mankind. Most often unspoken subtleties existent is where the care is taken, building strength in bond.

Georges Blaise
Co-founder Maat Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre, commercial voice talent, composer, playwright, television producer

Industry : Music/Television
Zodiac : Pisces (March 1)
Hobbies : Travel, Photography, Occult sciences (see Key23)

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

gb : I define archive as a collection of tools e.g. experience, skills & technique that may be called upon in the active mode of craft (the verb).

sw : Master of Ceremony (MC)

gb : Master of ceremony is so often misused in my opinion. The master of ceremony is only the person on the mic when that person holds sway over the entire experience of a performance. In my experience, this MC function is fluid and changeable. In vodoun ritual, not the hounga (high priest) but the loa (lesser god) is master of ceremony and may move from person to person at will. If a party or show is interrupted when a fight breaks out, the combatants are actually the masters of ceremony because their actions determine the nature of the experience for the other guests. I would say the title of MC in its most pure sense belongs only to DJs and drug dealers. Everyone else experiences through their influence for the most part.

sw : How have these roles been adapted to modern times ?

gb : One cannot be a master of anything without archive. Archive allows one to review a recorded analog of what works and what doesn’t work in any given context. Archive allows one to refine craft. Any true witch or magikian (not a goth poser) keeps a grimoire or log book of past spells, formulas, observations and dreams for this very purpose. As a musician, mastery comes after years of practice, which allows the precision motor function needed to physically produce sound to become automatic. The scales, modes and riffs are the archive, the pallet. It is from this archive that individual style is born. That is why one can tell when Carlos Santana or B.B. King is playing after just a few notes. They are not the same notes every time but their respective archives bear a unique musical signature. Mastery allows them to not only recreate new forms from this archive, but also embed the signature in the mind of the listener. Perhaps the greatest example of a more diabolical form of this sorcery is fast food giant McDonald’s. McDonald’s golden arches are instantly recognizable as a source of fast, cheap food no matter what country one is traveling in. After years of exposure from childhood on, our physical / emotional / psychological response is programmed. The Big Mac is archive. Once your psyche associates joy (a dancing clown) with “Big Mac” with the symbol “arches” they can sell you death from that point on and you will be more than happy to have it as long as it is under the golden arches. Be it music, witchcraft or Big Mac, the occult methodology involved is the same.

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and / or contemporary context.)

gb : Consider the role technology has played in the context of de-constructing the chauvinism of contemporary artists.
Example :

In the alter universe that is "YouTube," posting a 5 second video clip titled "My Big butt" may seem adolescent at face value. But so would the work of Jackson Pollack if critiqued by the eyes of one not so entrenched in the self important zeitgeist we artists tend to devolve into.

Technology has allowed the expression of artistic free association within a gallery that has no physical walls.

The "Numa Numa" kid’s little lip sync video has been viewed by more people in one year than the entire collection of the Guggenheim since doors opened in 1959.

This is what artists should endeavor to do. Mass exposure of expression for the sake of altering perception in one way or another. Be it audio, visual or some combination there of, we are in the high season for real global sigilism.

In the early days of Hip-Hop, we tagged train cars so that our style would be carried to turf our feet dared not go. The higher up on a structure you made graff, the more respect you had from artists you would never even meet but knew you name just the same. A kid becoming legend - even if locally.

This is what the Internet has opened up for the individual curator. No need to rent space or print flyers or pour out cheap box wine to impress pretentious non-artists.

Just blast that shit so people can feel it. Scream to be heard. Make love to make love. Get off the canvas and drip onto the floor. Step on that shit and track it all the way out the door. Are you feelin me ?

Chaka B Camogurl Promotions / DJ
Arts Educator, DJ, Producer

Industry : Art, Hip Hop, Social Activism
Zodiac : Aries (March 30)
Hobbies : Travelling, collecting music (hip hop, soul, drum n bass, funk)

Company : L2 Collaborative Youth arts program located in Chicago’s Logan Square, program established by Public Allies, Chicago Chapter
Zodiac : Libra

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

cf : A collection or assortment of materials to refer from. A reference point to see how far you have progressed personally and business wise.

sw : Master of ceremony

cf : To be able to create an atmosphere for your audience, to have a likable persona that will captivate your audience. To produce art/music by the use of others.

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and / or contemporary context.)

cf : I keep reference materials from photographs / magazines / music to poetry and use these resources to brain storm ideas for future ventures.

sw : Why do you choose art education / community work ?

cf : I chose this kind of work because if I did art / creative work just for myself I would not be able to get so passionate about it. It’s important to share your experience...

sw : Why is it important for you to be in the music business ?

cf : Because I am tired of the current state of hip hop and music in general, so I decided instead of just moaning about it I should participate to help create positive change within it.

sw : What do you define your role is as an educator and/or as a music producer ? What is yor relationship with your public audience ?

cf : I think I see myself as being all of the above (if not more !). As an educator to offer more alternative choices to the students that I work inspire them to research the genres they’re passionate about. As a producer of the arts to be able to capture my perspective and experience within my work.

Performer, Singer, Songwriter

Industry : Music
Zodiac : Scorpio (October 25)
Hobbies : I love going to sports events (ie : Basketball ; football (English & American) ; X-Games, etc) as I like the rush of rooting for your favourite person/team...I also like museums/ to dance and shake my booty once and a while in a Sunday Brunch at a fun and funky place...hell, love restaurants full stop ! Going to the cinema (need to do this more !)...Rollerblading...working out at the gym...I like all kinds of stuff...but you can always hip me to something new !

Chezere’s career kicked off when she was given the opportunity to be the vocalist for Big Audio Dynamites second band Screaming Target and not long after her time with Target was over, Chezere would lend her skills to another London sound, Urban Species.

She has played some of the biggest festivals in Europe, such as, Glastonbury and The Phoenix Festival in England, the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and the Nice Jazz Festival in France entertaining crowds from the hundreds to the tens of thousands.

The Roots, who were once an opening act for Urban Species, asked her to lend her vocals on their Things Fall Apart tour throughout Europe ; singing their signature song "You Got Me."

Chezere also teamed up with Japans’ UFO (United Future Organization) to do "Friends (We"ll Be)" on their 3rd Prospective album and the German master re-mixers Jazzanova liked the song so much they decided to add their own magic to it. To this day, the song remains popular and you can catch her sultry tones in nearly every lounge and bar that plays cool beats around the world.

House Music is a part of Chezere and has been since the early days of the scene, so it came as no surprise when Roy Davis Jr. remixed her single "Where Does Your Mind Go ?" from her solo album Upfront and Personal (Delabel/Virgin). The song was an instant club hit. Then she dropped "We Are One" with Ernest St. Laurent (Yellow Productions) making it to the top five in some of the world’s dance charts. Paris couldn’t get enough of her and soon she had Bob Sinclar of Yellow Productions and The Troublemen of KIF Records knocking on her door. Keeping up the heat, it was on to DJ Mark Grant and the single "Hey You" in Chicago. She’s also collaborated with Olive Records (Chicago) and brought out her own project "The Core." You can even get one of her songs as a ring tone !

Chezere is queen at constantly reinventing herself and consistently surprising her fans with her range. Los Angeles has the pleasure of her calling it home now, and this fiery phoenix is ready to splash onto the musical scene with a brand new project called Whut4 / What4 Myspace. Prepare yourself to be blown away !

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

c : Things that are kept from the past that one can return to for information.

sw : Master of Ceremony

c : The person who keeps the party going ! This is the person who let’s you know what’s next on the agenda of the event that you’re at !

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and / or contemporary context.)

c : I always look back to get ideas from previous artists that have inspired me, then I add my own special touch to it and make it my own. As a performing artist and the lead singer at the front of the band (!), I am pretty much always the master of ceremony as I am always making sure that the audience is pulled into our vibe ! If I didn’t have other artists to look at who have come before me, such as Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin) and Tina Turner, just to name a few, it would be much harder to know what an audience would want from me when performing. I look at how they performed and how they captivated an audience and try to emulate that within my own performance.

Erika Jones
Singer, Visual Artist

Industry : Event Planning, Music (background vocalist)
Zodiac : Aries (March 31)
Hobbies : Party Planning - Decorations, etc, cooking (big part of my life), listening to new music, voice-over work

Company : Anaysa Art and Events, LLC
Zodiac : Sagittarius

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

ej : To me, archive is to gather whatever, as it comes to keep to show in the future, for your records. In some cases it could be like inventory.

sw : Masters of Ceremony

ej : Masters of ceremony to me is like the hype man. The MC sets the tone for the event, or set the tone of the music. The music is in some cases nothing without the MC.

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and / or contemporary context.)

ej : Well, I guess in the simplest way for me to put the ideas of archive and MC in my practice is when I have a jam session, the (vocal artist) Erika comes out sometimes to get on the mic to sing to get the crowd going. But it’s mostly to encourage other singers to come up and sing since I’m really not there to perform, honestly, because I put the event together. We videotape the event to archive that the event did happen. Its like our personal inventory. Yet, it has become other peoples personal archive / inventory as well because they remember each one, due to the music, situation, or venue. Currently we have had 6 jam sessions in Chicago and there are people that have been to each. Our audience helps us create a legacy and an archive by their word of mouth marketing.

I like to create a fun, free spirited ambiance within the jam sessions. For the people be loose, a euphoric type of feeling. Especially for the musicians. I think that’s what helped us because the event is created by musicians for musicians. My brother Tim (cream jones) is a big part of this event. He created it with me. He plays a huge part in the decisions on the jam sessions...when we should have them...whats going on in the stars, all that. But the jam sessions for us is not a money making is a networking event for musicians. Period. Musicians can come and check each other out, check out their skills, vibe with each other, and possibly make connections to work on projects. Its just that other people, whether the common man or artists, are able to be an audience for these musicians. My crowd is loyal because its free, BYOB, and each jam session is different. You don’t know what you are going to get. People think that its easy to just put together a jam session. Its allot of work and making sure everything is right. There’s a vibe behind it. One thing that I can say is it’s not, and never has been, about competition for us. It is what it is. We don’t do it to show out. Its out of the love for music. And that’s what got us far.

DJ, Radio Personality

Industry : Music
Zodiac : Cancer
Hobbies : Politics, Visual Design

(etc-radio / parttimesuckers / streetbeat / wnur-fm evanston-chicago / dnbradio / / bassuptrebledown / subvariant recordings / stratagem / auxprocess / mathematics / anal0g / kahvi collective consumers research and development label / modsquare / timeout magazine / flavorpill / bpm)

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

m50 : A place of storage. The act of storing. A library. Generally organized, and generally spanning some period of time.

sw : Master of Ceremony

m50 : Someone who acts as a organizer for an event from the audience’s perspective. A mouthpiece for an organization or event.

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and / or contemporary context.)

m50 : Definitely. I think that there’s a meditative quality to so many popular human activities. Something like golfing, or gardening, or DJing, or anything that turns into a reflextive / expressive / decision-making action seems to get people outside of themselves without alienating them.

I think that the relationship between fellow DJs & musicians (peers) is a pretty different topic from that of the relationship between performer and audience. One way to differentiate between different styles of performance that I use a lot is a scale, ranging from a more populist performance (cover songs, wedding DJ, etc) to a more artistic performance (songs, or even styles the audience is not already familiar with). I think that on that continuum, there is also a lot of indication as to what level of audience feedback will shape the performance, and definitely a constraint on the types of feedback that will be constructive / acceptable / or even functional. For example, there is a definite expectation in a purely populist performance that not only will the performer gauge the audiences physical / energy / mood type reactions, but that a literal feedback communication (requests, singing along, etc) is a welcomed aspect of the performance, whereas at a very artistic extreme, some performers would stop playing and leave altogether if the audience so much as applauds during the performance or does anything that might detract from the artistic expression.

I’m not altogether sure what my role is, as a performer. Certainly some parts are to help people experience things non-verbally and to share ideas. A kind of communication & entertainment, right ?

Mike Nourse

Industry : Education, Visual Arts
Zodiac : Taurus (May 17)
Hobbies : Basketball, business education, ice hockey, music instrument playing (bass, drums, guitar, keys, vox), networking, soccer, tennis

Mike Nourse is a co-founder of CAD (The Chicago Art Department / CAD Myspace) and partner for Zero One Projects with Nat Scoti. Since graduating with his MFA from the SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) in 2002, Mike has been teaching design and video courses part-time at both Depaul University and SAIC, as well as for CAD.

Recently Mike has been working on the big move, taking CAD and Zero One Projects into the Chicago Arts District , at their new location on South Halsted St. Last fall he curated a media literacy program for high school students (for Cinema/Chicago), and this past year he taught graduate projects at SAIC’s department of Visual Communication. In the fall he will be working on a new program for CAD, as well as teaching for the Film/Video department at SAIC. His video work is featured in various online and touring festivals, including this year’s Resfest

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

mn : Collection of artifacts to be preserved for future access.

sw : Master of Ceremony

mn : Director of public attention.

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and / or contemporary context.)

mn : With our openings at CAD, I often patrol the room much like an MC, directing people to areas of interest and letting them know the ceremony that they are part of. Sometimes they don’t realize they are in a middle of an "act," but like a narrative theatre experience, an art opening had a beginning, middle, and end behind the work...I try to help people see those points.

My creative juices are often fueled by my drive to compete, which I also use when playing sports. When you see someone who seems better at what they do than you are, then you want to improve and get better yourself. When you drive to win, you often want to succeed and will not settle for less. That drive to succeed pushes me in both my hobbies and practice. So I often compare our strategies to similar outfits, gauge if there are things we could do better, and ultimately look at our own operations every day to consider how we can be a better organization.

sw : Please explain more in detail specific points in your ceremonial practice. How do you engage the people ? How do you create a loyal following to continue these experiences at your openings ?

mn : First hand conversations. I will have a set of talking points at my disposal, much like an MC with a speech. I will often make general announcements to the entire crowd at some points throughout the night, but instead of relying on making these speeches to the entire crowd, I will use the content of these messages to fuel individual conversations that I will have throughout any given gallery opening. So really focusing more on the individuals rather than the entire crowd (especially important considering at a gallery the audience shifts every minute, different when compared to a captive audience at a more formal show of some kind - ie. Music venue)...Creating a loyal following seems to have happened by personalizing the experience of being in our gallery. So getting to know our regular visitors, learning their names, remembering their faces when they come back, remembering the art that they purchased and trying to point them to similar work available on that night, taking their feedback seriously, listening to their thoughts and showing them that we care about their support. For example if a regular visitor suggests getting a specific bottle of wine for our openings, we will try to accommodate. When they come back and see we have taken their advice seriously, they tend to appreciate our efforts. Another example is remembering visitors’ names or asking them how the art that they purchased is doing (Where is it ? How does it look ? How does it make you feel ?)...These strategies have gone a long way to make people feel at home and valued when regularly visiting CAD.

sw : Maybe also talk a little about your educational programs and how you interact with your students / alumni.

mn : Our educational components vary over time. We started our teaching classes once a week, eventually moved to offering a class every day of the week, and now we offer workshops when the time is right. The space right now is full of people who at one time or another took classes at CAD, and are currently resident artists who pay for the experience of being involved in a gallery and sharing experiences of making art with each other, much like independent projects. Eventually I think we’ll move back to having more regular classes, but seeing as the whole education side of what we do was born out of our own personal studio practice and learning how to teach coming out of grad school, the nature of our offerings will always revolve around the participants’ own art practices. Much like Marwen, our philosophy starts with Art First and goes from there.

Ron Sager
Audio Visual, Web Design

Industry : Music, Web Design
Zodiac : Libra (October 8)
Hobbies : collect new music, go out to social functions, learning about new cultures, music production, photography, reading, travel, video production, watch movies

Company : Fluxcore An artist collective and online magazine. Official launching 12 May 2007. The members are : Ron Sager, Joanna Burgraf, Leigh Anne Bush, Carlos Torres, Melissa Kolbusz, Likalee Tamay, Antone Rosas, Ruben Aguirre Jr., Chrystyne Kozol, Jenn Cooper, Kevin Chow
Zodiac : Taurus

Ron Sager combines the best of both audio and visual worlds as a multimedia artist. With a background in photography, he has extended his craft into graphics, web, video and audio. As a visual media artist, Ron is inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cindy Sherman, David LaChapelle and Pedro Almodovar. As a DJ, the ever-evolving soundtrack of his city moves him.

Media and music have always been a part of Ron’s life. His parents met at a radio station where they both worked in the Philippines. His father later pursued a career in television. His mother is a vocalist who has performed throughout Asia and the United States. It is no surprise why Ron is who he is today, media and music is in his blood.

Ron was born in Manila, the Philippines and immigrated with his family to Chicago at the age of seven. He grew up in the Albany Park neighborhood of north side Chicago. There, he absorbed the multi-faceted soundtracks of his city, primarily House Music, New Wave and Rock. Ron grew up listening to WBMX and WGCI in the later days of the Hot Mix 5, the pioneers of House Music. Bands such as The Pixies, New Order and The Smashing Pumpkins laid the groundwork for Ron’s motivation to play drums for the Chicago-based band Wax Poetic. When the band broke up, he decided to pursue a solo path in music as a DJ.

Ron graduated on the dean’s list from the Interactive Multimedia Program at Columbia College Chicago, where he attained a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia. Ron has presented his visual work throughout the city of Chicago in such venues as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Chicago Cultural Center.

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

rs : An archive is a collection of data/items regarding a particular body of work.

sw : Master of Ceremony

rs : A master of ceremony is someone who conducts and leads a special event from start to finish.

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and / or contemporary context.)

rs : I believe that my work in Fluxcore is important because I can connect many different people together through the use of media. Fluxcore’s work as a collective is important because it facilitates a creative exchange among visionaries. I chose media and music because that was what I was exposed to growing up as a child. I was always surrounded by music. It is what I enjoy doing. I have always thought that music is the universal language, and media is the tool to spread that universal language.


Industry : Arts, Club Industry, Music
Zodiac : Aries (April 14)
Hobbies : writing, painting, cooking and being a social butterfly...

"The way in which Smokie guides her instruments describes her evolving creative talents." Roy Ayers

"Smokie’s poetry allow me to fulfill a fantasy inside my imaginations of wonder...what she taste like. Yumm, Yumm." Malik Yuself

Prior to self-publishing the book Abstractvision, Smokie established the theatrical poetic performance group Innervision in 1996. Innervision combined a live Jazz orientated Hip-hop band featuring poetry, creating a sound of personal liberation, encouraging the audience to embrace individuality. Her views are political, personal and spiritual. Smokie feeds off the moments captor, for it does not restrict herself of her womanhood. They stand as sisters roller their eyes, freaks move closer to stage and militants get up and leave. If she offends you, then it’s you she’s talk-en to. But above all, she wants the audience to check behind the scenes and see that there is only chaos, nothing easy.

Smokie has opened for Roy Ayers, Chaka Khan, Mos-Def and The Last Poets in venues like House of Blues, Museum of Contemporary Arts and Word-Stocks in Brooklyn. She has also had the opportunity to work with Roy Ayers, Lyricist Lounge and appeared on BET’s (Black Entertainment Television) 106 & Park performing her poem -Let-s go-, as well as hosted HBO’s (Home Box Office) Def Jam Poetry pilot, one of the many organizations that pushed the word until was heard.

Currently, Smokie is performing The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler at the DuSable Museum Chicago. She has also picked up bass playing and is now combining it to the sound of her words.

sw : Hey Smokie, Liquid Life circa 1996. Do you remember this ? I remember being at Yo Mama Cafe and you walked in with Avery and another girl, don’t remember. But I remeber the performance. We didn’t know each other then, and not until a long time after. But I remember. Clearly.

I would like to hear about your inspiration, why you choose poetry and what is the importance of chaos in your life that makes you creative, love your art and what keeps you going, even if you didn’t go to school to study the arts. That part doesn’t matter. What matters to me is your message, your accomplishments, the people you met, why it is was important or influencial for you to work with them, and why you have a passion for music and words.

s : God, I remember back when...That was so long ago. I was young and I lived life with inspiration from the ones around me. I was discovering my sexuality, who I was going to be...Tracey was the other girl. That was the beginning of Innervision...mind (Avery), body (Smokie) and soul (Tracey). We wrote coming from those angles. Yo Mama Cafe. That was our first paid show. I never got paid nor Avery, only Tracey did because she went off on dude. I still run into that dude every now then and he still says he’s going to pay us. Interesting, he feels that he still owes us years and years later. Oh yeah, I was the body so I had my paintings there as well.

Avery was a big part of Smokie. He met me as Gloria, then the name changed. Smokie first came to me in my dance years before. My friend Kwame said, "Smoke, you can see it but you can’t touch it." He call me Smokie all the time. And Avery helped me be me.

I read my first poem out loud to Avery in a friends living room and he said, "Girl, I can’t believe you wrote that ! Let alone said it out loud !" I’ll never forget that. It was this poem call DREAMS. I know you heard it. It’s in the book, all about sexuality and not being able to have what you want. Avery read Black Everything. I thought that was a slick ass poem of self identity. And Tracey came out the kitchen with Gin Ain’t a Sin Until You Give In. She was very spiritual. Three writers that never knew until that day. We were always together and never knew. I never knew what I was writing. I never knew people would find interest in it. The friend’s living room was Jarvis Mason. He knew we wrote, so he got us together and made us share words with each other. All he said was "Remember that poem you let me read ? Say out loud." So we did.

Jarvis was funny. He asked us if we would perform for his birthday in his living room. Then he said, "We can add music to it." He let us listen to the Last Poets. I never heard of them until that day. I also never thought I would open for them at the MCA years later.

Jarvis’ living room was my very first time in front of a crowd. It was amazing. Thanks to Jarvis Mason. After that it was over.

A week later, I ran into Tina at the Gay Pride Parade. She give me a flyer to Lit-X. I told Avery and Tracey about it. Then we went to that little place, in the basement, and came out as Innervision. I met some great people there. Reggie, writer of Loves Jones, Makil Yuself, Common, Larnence Tate. We had a party for him when he went to Cali...

Back to Jarvis. He also introduced me to the sound of Ursula Rucker of the Roots. I felt that she was me, expressing her words from the bottom of pain and suffering. Years later, she was in my play Flashback in NYC at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Around the time you came out to NYC.

I feel that this plan was not mine. It’s bigger then me. I never woke up and said, "I’m going to be a poet, a writer, an artist." I just live and express what I cannot keep inside of me.

Peter Vogelaar / The Lullabees
Bassist, Producer

Industry : Music, Web Design
Zodiac : Aquarius (January 24)
Hobbies : Bass playing, music production

Peter started playing bass guitar at the age of 15, and has gigged all over Ireland with many well known groups covering all genres. Turning to production in 2000, his earlier releases on his own Fuzz Records imprint remixes and re-interprets blues artists such as John Lee Hooker.

Since then, Peter has evolved his sound, skills and directions. He brings to the table in his productions a live and funky feel from his own playing ability, as well as the many talented singers and instrumentalists that he works with.

His experimental style ranges from deep to funky house to chilled down-tempo beats, punk and hip hop. There are no genre boundaries to his work.

sw : In your own words, please define the following : Archive

pv : To archive is to document your endeavours for prosperity, it also serves as a milestone for comparison between present and past, and gauge development and progress accordingly.

sw : Master of Ceremony

pv : I associate master of ceremony with MC in a popular music sense – for example a vocalist or rapper, you could say that this person ‘fronts’ or ‘spearheads’ a message that is common to a group, fashion or cultural trend.

sw : Define the relationship between the ideas of archive and master of ceremonies to your practice. (please define this role within a classical and/or contemporary context.)

pv : Archiving : Well producing music is essentially archiving music, once you record audio in any context and keep it, you are archiving. To keep recorded music and then to release it or publish it is a greater commitment. It is almost like saying that you ‘vouch’ for it and that you stand by it as quality or interesting material, and/or that it is a fair representation of yourself.

MC : For example if I’m remixing something and just using a vocal, the musical backdrop I’m creating can greatly compliment, alter or enhance the MC message, even to the extent where the MC’s statement is ironic or not directly true.

Related sources

Hoch, Matthias To the Beat of the Techno-Systems, (Speicher. Dogenhaus Galerie Leipzig Exhibition Catalogue, Goethe Institut Paris 1998/99)

Key23 Magick OSD (Open Source Document)

say word

Session 16 Construction d’une identité

Storr, Robert Reading Circle (Frieze Magazine)

Tannert, Christoph and Ute Tischler Men in Black, Handbook of Curatorial Practice, (Revolver – Archiv für Aktuelle Kunst 2004, pp. 125 – 127)

Udovitch, Mim It’s All in the Mix (New York Times, 2000)

Block, Ursula and Michael Glasmeier Broken Music - Artists’ Recordworks Book Review / Exhibition Review (Berlin : Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAAD and gelbe Musik, 1998)

Ginzburg, Carlo Ecstasies : Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath ( Random House, 2004)

Miller, Paul Rhythm Science (Netherlands : robstolk, 2004)

Brewster, Bill and Frank Broughton DJ History

The Center for Arts and Culture Cultural Policy

Crab, Simon 120 Years of Electronic Music, (2004)

Defrates, Marck Chaos Matrix, (1995)

Authors : George Blaise, Chaka B, Chezere, Erika Jones, M50, Ron Sager, Smokie, Peter Vogelaar, Sadie Woods
Editor : Sadie Woods


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