Sunday, May 10, 2015

Appeal to the Prurient Interest

"Let me put it this way: I think fantasy is a more powerful way of talking about real life. If you try to say something like it’s your fucking diary, who's gonna read that? You need exaggeration and fantasy in order for other people to feel comfortable in talking about your life, that's the way you try to connect with people. At least in terms of performing, the idea is not to drive people away. I want to share something. A lot of people kind of fall back on this defense like, "I don't care, I don't give a fuck." But I do care, I do give a fuck, that's why I'm here trying to share it with you. Given the context of Prurient, that is ultimately the motivation. The idea is to try to connect—even though it’s within a self-centered, masturbatory kind of world.

The whole thing is flawed, even the performance itself. From the time you go onstage, there's an expectation and a hierarchy between you and the audience. You're on the stage, but they still have the power to determine what they want to give you back. You can't choose... One of the challenges is trying to overcome all of the artificiality of presenting something in the public, whether it’s putting out a record or doing a show or even writing—any act of making something public. The challenge is to try to somehow make that feel real even though the entire mechanism is fake."

- Every Noise At Once: The Obsessive Art of Prurient's Dominic Fernow

The profile of Dominic Fernow (Prurient, Vatican Shadow, Hospital Productions) has raised significantly in the past decade or so.   He's by no means a household name, but for someone still so fundamentally linked with extreme music he does garner his fair share of attention.

Interviews with him and articles on his work tend to juxtapose his newer and older stuff by linking or embedding the above video, which I shot around 2003/2004 as part of a basement show with a few travelling noise acts and some local ones.  It was an intense and powerful performance, tapping into some frightening emotions.   An organization I was a part of regularly booked these types of acts to come to the Hudson Valley in New York in between stops to Boston and New York and though there were definitely artists of sincere pedigree (Pauline Oliveros's Deep Listening Space was up the road in Kingston, NY), Prurient, though still young (but by no means a teenager as the Pitchfork article suggests), was already the superstar of this cohort.

Many did adhere to the "I don't give a fuck" type of attitude Fernow alludes to in the above quote and there was definitely a sticky gray area between the display of prerequisite misanthropy and utter nihilism of character.  Most were not, but some of these people could be downright unpleasant.  Whether it was tour crankiness, hipster dismissiveness, or just general disdain was often unclear, but the positioning of the music at the bleeding edge of polarity attracted a number of characters who wouldn't seem out of place in the Apocalypse Culture series.  I had little interaction with Fernow off-stage, but he always came off as shy and thoughtful rather than angry and brooding, not so much uneager to engage as slightly embarrassed at how much he already seemed to be sharing through his performance.  His art obviously took him to dark places, but he seemed to recognize those not as the places you reside, but rather the places you can't force out no matter how hard you try and, given this, you need to own up to before they own you.

Interesting sidebar- the house in this video, located at Six Mohonk Ave in New Paltz, NY was occupied by a gaggle of punk rock kids, most of whom were locals and did not attend the college right around the street, SUNY New Paltz. Many of the residents, already in punk/postpunk bands, became involved with noise itself thanks in part to the scene fostered by the organization I worked with (HvEXAS- a collective of which I was admittedly the lesser of the three partners). The house hosted tons of shows in the basement of Six Mohonk, many of which were extremely loud and probably permanently damaged my hearing to some degree.  Despite the decibel range, neighbors seemed fine with the performances and the house received few complaints.  It wasn't until a local paper covered one of the events that the  "venue" portion of the house was shut down by police for not filing the proper paperwork, despite the fact that I don't think admission was ever charged for any of the events at the house.

Then, a few weeks ago an article started circulating online in this circle, many of whom are still close. Apparently, the punk rock/noise house is now home to a none other than a frat from the University, the members of which are mortified to go into the basement because they're convinced it's haunted.  Talk about your culture clash.

To be fair, strange things did take place there...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.