Thuistezien 294 — 04.01.2022
Alessandro Bosetti and Felicia Atkinson are both artists whose work seems to seamlessly flow between a large range of creative practices in similar yet very different and deeply personal ways. Their respective works crisscross the borders between visual art, music and performance art, making their output impossible to pin down and endless fascinating as a result, while inviting into a situation that is intimate and forthcoming.
As part of West’s event series Musical Material, each of the two artists gave an individual performance of their recent work at the time, in April 2016. They also sat down together to answer questions from the audience, as documented in the video. The talk gives each of them the opportunity to provide further insight into their own work, but also discuss each other’s performances.
For those attending the event and who might not have known the two artist’s practices beforehand, it became immediately clear to them that neither Bosetti’s nor Atkinson’s practices ever rest in one place. The event began with the early afternoon performance by Alessandro Bosetti: He sits behind a desk in a blue suit jacket. In front of him is a laptop and a microphone. The setting gives all the indications that he is about to begin a talk, possibly an academic lecture even, as he politely greets the a few latecomers taking their seats. Yet, this setting is suddenly disrupted as we hear his prerecorded voice unexpectedly jump out through the speakers in the corners of the room. It quickly turns into a surreal interplay between the live physical Bosetti in the room, and Bosetti’s prerecorded voice continually interjecting, giving the first hints of the performance to follows and which leads the audience through a fast moving and surreal performance, where words and electronic sounds compete and work together to create an ever-shifting world. It is A world that is based in spoken elements, yet which definitely functions on the very edges of functional verbal communication. The performance twists and turns between a variety of bizarre yet engrossing situations, in a unique interplay of vocal sounds, half words, story-telling moments and rapid-fire electronic sound textures.
Felicia Atkinson’s performance later in the day seemed on the other hand to invite the audience into a calm introspective sound world, at odds with the fast mind bending pace of Bosetti. You see her on stage, sitting behind her laptop, nestled amongst a small keyboard, a guitar effects pedal, a tape machine and a few more devices. Staring into her laptop screen she brings forward the opening melodious synth sounds of her performance. They are calm and dreamy, and beautifully serene. You are drawn in and fade into the flowing chords, you might even close your eyes to settle further into her world. Yet the sounds suddenly come to an abrupt halt, leaving only a trail of mechanical clicks and hisses and you suddenly find yourself woken out of your half dream to better examine Atkinson onstage amongst her array of cables and electronics in order to try and comprehend what happened. Atkinson calmly develops the clicking sounds, and it becomes clear that her art delicately manages to coax you in and out of very different headspaces: for a moment you are drifting in clouds of sound, suddenly you are strikingly aware of yourself sitting in the informal concert setting. It is rare that a performance can so quickly and subtly play with the conventions of a performance, and so aptly and consciously break the spell of the ritual we have learned to enter into in concerts, performances and exhibitions. You suddenly notice the situation in a way that you hadn’t until just then, you see it in a new, almost cold, objective light, as if you were witnessing it in a film, and you discover that this is the space within which Atkinson creates her ever morphing soundscapes.
These were the opening impressions given to the audience of these two mysterious artists, who constantly elude you in their work, and somehow put you in such contrasting headspaces and perspectives. Somehow their work is direct, yet completely intangible. In their discussion we get further glimpses into their art, their creative practices and discover how their very different creative endeavors yet seem to often explore similar ideas. How do they start working on such a work? What are their inspirations? How does language influence their work? How does the idea of disappearing play into their creative practices of shifting worlds? These are several of the questions brought to them in the discussion, and in their responses and give us new hints into their complex and ungraspable creative sphere which constantly prove so enchanting and engrossing, and share also their insights on each other's performances.
Text: James Alexandropoulos - McEwan
Musical Material #2: Alessandro Bosetti
Musical Material #2: Felicia Atkinson