Ola Ståhl (2006-2012)
Appropriations are a series of re-workings or bastardisations of canonical literary and theatrical works, including novels and plays by Samuel Beckett, Virgina Woolf and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. These appropriations take the form of printed works in different formats (artists’ books, chapbooks, posters) as well as performances and sound pieces.
Rant is a project initiated in 2006 for the conference Beckett & Company at Goldsmiths College and Tate Modern in London, UK. The project consists of a series of reworkings of Beckett’s trilogy – Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable – in which the fragments of text are systematically extracted from the novel. These fragments form a series of new text which are then translated back and forth between English, French and Swedish, resulting in both incoherent, nonsensical turns of phrase, and fragments that suggest new narrative trajectories.
At Beckett & Company, the resulting text was performed by participants walking among the crowd at coffee breaks, quietly reciting the text, and at an advertised event in the concrete staircase at Goldsmiths College, where the performers paced up and down the stairs reciting the text.
Parts of Rant has since been published as part of Little Paper Planes’ Sights & Sounds series (2010). You can listen to an extract from the accompanying sound recording below (read by Neil Chapman):
The piece has also been performed at the gallery Oksasenkatu 11 in Helsinki, Finland, in 2011. A video recording of the performance is available below.
In 2013 the project in its entirety was published as an artist book with Publication Studio, available here.
BLACK FIRE / WHITE FIRE
White Fire / Black Fire makes reference to Judaic thought and, in particular, to the notion that text consists of both black fire – the actual printed letters – and white fire – the blank space between and within letters. Seeking to rework Beckett’s play Krapp’s Last Tape in light of this notion of written language as black and white fire, the play’s dialogue between a recorded and a live voice, was turned into a dialogue between two performers at two different floors of a space, connected via web conference software set up in such a was that any attempt at speaking would produce echo and feedback. Various crackle resulting from attempted speech was then cut out from a recording of the performance, alongside feedback and other non-language units. The two sets of short fragments were finally edited into two sounds pieces, Black Fire and White Fire, released with Podalida/Modisti as part of the CD Out of Silence in 2011.