A short and sweet video was just published featuring the Museum of Contemporary Art A Coruña’s 2012 residents. Alongside the video are a series of behind-the-scenes photographs too.
I joined the museum as a resident back in October of 2012, invited there to work on Music for Forgotten Places. It was a strange, blurry, busy time. Rainy days in the cold museum filled with strong coffee, punctuated by moments of solitary meditation, or meals and snack breaks with my fellow residents.
This video and these photos are special to me because they capture the other artists in situ, just as I remember them. Those people, that museum, hold a special place in my heart and I look back on my time there with a fondness.
1. Watch the video and see the behind-the-scenes photographs
2. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in A Coruña, Spain
3. Discover Music for Forgotten Places
Back in December I performed live at the Museum of Contemporary Art in A Coruña. Four girls were connected to an electrical circuit via their mouths. In effect their bodies were transformed into musical instruments, touching each of them triggered sound.
Weina Ding, one of my fellow residents at A Coruña’s Museum of Contemporary Art, asked me to pose for a photograph with her latest installation. A dreamy realisation of a poem by the Tang era’s Li Bai, the installation is entitled A Drink With The Moon Is A Company Of Three.
The story of Li Bai’s death has become something of an enduring legend. It is said that he drowned in the Yangtze River, drunkenly trying to embrace the moon’s reflection.
The reassuring din of Los Cantones envelops and calms me. I am in A Coruña’s shopping mall, sitting on a bench and listening. Wherever I go in the world, shopping malls always sound the same. Far from home, I sit and listen. I feel calm.
Squint a little and I could be anywhere. I could be, and have been, and now may be, in Jakarta, London, Tel Aviv, Tallinn, Houston, or wherever. It doesn’t matter. The shopping mall becomes a transporter, a weird nexus for the generic. I step in and am everywhere and nowhere.
Contrast and compare with McDonalds. Though the golden arches are as precisely curved and exactly yellow at each franchise location, stroll through the door and it is a different experience depending on where you are in the world. In Rome, for example, there are free breadsticks next to the straw dispensers. In Paris you can get a beer with your Big Mac. In Mumbai you might order a Chicken Maharaja-Mac™. At some branches in Manchester you may receive a complimentary stabbing. The point is, each McDonalds brings a little local flair to their offering.
Shopping malls have a range of ingredients that blend together into one specific sonic din: babelic bustling of shoppers browsing, nattering and buying, punctuated by the shrieks and yelps of toddlers, and underscored with a blurred soundtrack of inoffensive pop hits (or swap pop for some accessible classical – such as Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ or Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’ – if you happen to be perusing the posh part).
Visiting shopping malls when I am missing home is like riding a bike which I know I will fall off. It is ultimately quite unpleasant but nevertheless familiar, easy, and available to do almost everywhere in the world. Do not misunderstand me this is not a rant about the homogenisation of our retail shopping spaces. Today, I feel at home and am content in this messy, reassuring din.
All great stories eventually come to an end. I knew I’d have to leave New Orleans one day, I just did not think that when the time came I would be quite so desperate to stay. In two days, I fly to a city in Spain called A Coruña. I’ll spend two months there as a resident at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Over the next eight weeks, I will research and create a public art project all about transforming mundane sites in our cities into places of wonder through signs, telephone calls, storytelling, sound, and music. It will be immersive and magical and memorable, like stumbling into the pages of a book, or a scene from a movie, before continuing with your day.
In the meantime, I am sat here in my double-shotgun house a short walk from the New Orleans French Quarter, a swinging mix of 1920s and ’30s jazz on the stereo, waiting for the evening to come so I can go dancing, waiting for tomorrow to come so I can pack my bags, and waiting for the day after that so I can fly away for a short while.
This is an ending of sorts, until next year at least. I feel sad to be leaving and happy that, this time at least, I will get to return.
1. Watch a live feed direct from my favourite New Orleans jazz venue, The Spotted Cat.
2. Learn about A Coruña, my home in Spain for the next two months.
3. See Fats Waller singing ‘Your Feet’s Too Big’, this tune never fails to make me laugh.