New radicals: Arika and Radiophrenia
- David Pollock
- 7 November 2017
Two events pushing the boundaries of art, performance and music in Glasgow
November is a golden hour for esoteric, out-of-the-ordinary festival events with their roots in music taking place in Glasgow. Community art collective Arika return with the latest in their Episodes strand, Episode 9: Other Worlds Already Exist, a series of performances, discussions, workshops and screenings that investigate which present stories might generate different futures. Elsewhere, Radiophrenia pitches itself as 'the light at the end of the dial', a two-week radio transmission from the CCA which treats the medium of radio as its own form of art.
'There's been a resurgence in interest in radio in recent years, what with online broadcasting and podcasting,' says Radiophrenia's production manager Barry Burns, co-founder of the station with Mark Vernon. 'It seems to us that it's one of the most egalitarian mediums; its free, you can digest ideas in the comfort of your own home, and almost everyone can access it. We don't have any set programme lengths, which makes scheduling a nightmare, but this means we can accommodate pieces of any duration from one minute to over eleven hours. We had listeners in 39 countries last year, so we want to try to expand on that.'
Taking cues from Resonance FM in London and Sound Art Radio in Devon, Radiophrenia promises radiophonic experiments, soundscapes, field recordings and unconventional approaches to traditional formats from established and unknown artists, poets, musicians, bedroom hobbyists and producers from Scotland and around the world. The 336 hours of broadcast time will be filled with a blend of live, free-to-attend performances from the CCA and pre-recorded commissioned pieces, as well as an open call for new work and workshops with marginalised groups.
'Felix Kubin is coming over from Hamburg to do a live performance,' says Burns. 'He'll be presenting a combination of miniature radio plays about audio libraries. Another live performances is by [artist and former Life Without Buildings singer] Sue Tompkins and [artist and electronic musician] Russell Haswell. We have no idea what they're going to do, which is one of the exciting things for us. Elsewhere we have Ernestus Chald's weaponised audio experiments; a mash-up of beat poetry and minimalist compositions by Belle & Sebastian co-founder Stuart David; and Jenn Mattinson's radio documentary Out of Place, exploring the later life of BBC Radiophonic Workshop composer Delia Derbyshire.'
Arika, meanwhile, started out by organising experimental music and film festivals in 2001, and mutated into running events which question the nature of such festivals, while also supporting grassroots political action. 'To put it simply, we explore ways in which communities produce creativity and joy in their flight from oppression,' says Arika's Barry Esson. 'Sometimes some of us at Arika are members of these communities, but if we're not, we try to act as good allies.' This year they've finally drawn one of their greatest influences, the science fiction writer Samuel R Delany, to Glasgow.
'He's been a massive influence on ways we've approached notions of race, sex, sexuality, gender, mental health, politics and art,' says Esson. 'One thing that runs through his writing is his way of approaching science fiction as a distortion of the present, of how any dream we might have of overcoming multiple oppressions will always be rooted in our daily desires and struggles. He has this optimistic concrete way of thinking of our collective sociality, which says that the worlds we want to create already exist, even if they're under duress, and so they need to be protected, cultivated and nourished. '
As well as Delany, this year's Episode welcomes the dance artist Storyboard P; the journalist and blogger on queer struggle Huw Lemmey, with some of his politicised fan-fiction; Philadelphia housing activist, black quantum futurist and political musician Moor Mother; the attention-grabbing two-woman Glasgow electro-punk group LAPS (Ladies As Pimps); and young Glaswegian performer, fashion designer and 'nightlife impresario' Sgàire Wood.
A question of just how 'weighty' this Episode is, where the balance between politics and enjoyment is struck, brings Esson to draw a comparison. 'The legendary jazz saxophonist Joe McPhee made a record titled As Serious As Your Life,' he says. 'It's a complex, joyous, thrilling, difficult, uplifting, challenging and angry piece of music. Like it, the seriousness of life in 2017 can't be ignored. We hope our Episodes have everything you might find of interest in art house cinema, experimental music, avant garde performance, cutting edge dance or the coolest festivals, but with the volume turned up even further, more intense, more considered and more joyous.'
Radiophrenia transmits through radiophrenia.scot from the CCA, Glasgow, Thu 6–Sun 19 Nov; Arika – Episode 9: Other Worlds Already Exist, Tramway and Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow, Thu 16–Sun 19 Nov.