Review of “Concertos” | TDR (61-1 Spring, 2017), MIT Press

concertos

The new TDR issue contains a belated book review of Concertos (+ other books from the Emergency Playscript series) we published from Ugly Ducking Press 6 years ago back in 2011 (http://www.uglyducklingpresse.org/catalog/browse/item/?pubID=140). We have our reservations about the review (it contains several factual errors), although some parts of it sound nice and it sure is great to have, finally, a review for that complex playscript we put so much energy into.

“The No Collective piece, Concertos, was first performed in Tokyo in 2008, by the Japanese participants of that prominent international collective — founded by the artist You Nakai — who have presented work at the borders of music composition and performance art at such venues as Tokyo’s Museum of Modern Art. Concertos was then reworked as a transcript by other members of the Collective. The performance piece appears to have an ongoing existence in the Collective’s repertoire, extending beyond the published volume of 2011, and has been performed with variations on at least four occasions, most recently in 2012. The original performance, consisting of 3 “movements,” each 18 minutes in duration, entailed animal as well as human participants, including interventions by a dog and a bird (the dog having been obtained from a “rental pet shop” [15], and the pigeon caught with a net, according to the transcript). The account of the performance on the Collective’s website records: “Feedback is produced between the contact microphone attached to the pigeon and the mobile speaker attached to the dog” (http://nocollective.com/c1.html).

The published volume of Concertos experiments with the duplicities and multiplicities of transcription [...]. Concertos works both as a performance record, in its transcription of the participants discussing their memories of the performance, and also as an imaginative reflection on the performance itself: “People say ears don’t have lids, unlike eyes. But ears will open and close selectively, unlike eyes which seem incapable of selection” (9). The Collective’s participants appear keen to reinforce the elements of malfunction and disarray integral to their performance, recasting its ending as an extended suspension: “Then, after packing all the equipments, drinking, lamenting everything that went wrong, you have an INTERMISSION of eighteen months” (33).”