Sucking on Words

An evening of primordial sonatas, to celebrate 10 years of writers’ collective information as material

Venue: Whitechapel Gallery, London, E1 7QX

Date: Saturday 18 February 2012

Time: 7.30pm

Tickets: online here or tel: +44 (0)20 7522 7888

This sellout event was a feast of sonic poetry featuring performances by Rob Lavers and Simon Morris, Nick Thurston, and a headline set by Dutch avant-garde composer Jaap Blonk. A VJ playlist, put together especially for the night by Canadian poet Christian Bök, provided the sights and sounds between performances and alongside the drinks.

As Michael Hampton’s extensive review in Art Monthly (AM 355; April 2012) noted, the audience were politely reminded that the ears have no lids. As Jaap Blonk recalls:

The reception of these first public performances was varying widely. On many occasions I was performing at rock or punk clubs as an opening act for a band, and lots of people were not at all into it. Their preference was either to just talk with their friends or hear their habitual kind of music. So they started to scream and protest, and often throwing things at me, especially beer, which fortunately was mostly given out in plastic, not glass containers. The culminating point of this kind of experience was a performance of the Ursonate, opening for a concert of The Stranglers at Vredenburg Music Center in Utrecht in 1986, for an audience of about 2000 fans. When I was announced, even before I had opened my mouth, people started calling out: “Rot op!” (“Fuck off!”), and when I started, the atmosphere became very much that of a football match, but clearly an away game for me. With massive roaring they tried to drown out my voice, but of course the P.A. made me louder. Six stage guards were working hard to keep people from climbing the stage and hitting me, and hundreds of half-full plastic beer glasses flew about me. But in the course of the performance I managed to win over at least a few hundred people, who were roaring in my favor. The next morning one newspaper had the headline ‘Jaap Blonk Shocks Punk Audience With Dada Poetry’, which for me was a nice testimony to the fact that Schwitters’ piece was still very much alive, in spite of its age.”

Sucking on Words poetry readings

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