Performance Archive

  • Watch "The Delian Mode" a documentary on the innovative electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who worked from 1960 to 1973 at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. She utilized both real-life and ‘artificial’ electronic sounds in her compositions using a musical style known as Musique Concrète.

    Delia Derbyshire: ’60s Science Fiction Sound Art

    Watch "The Delian Mode" a documentary on the innovative electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who worked from 1960 to 1973 at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. She utilized both real-life and ‘artificial’ electronic sounds in her compositions using a musical style known as Musique Concrète.

    Continue Reading...

  • As bassist for Joy Division – one of the most important bands of the post-punk movement in England – Peter Hook kept the rhythm together, a kind-of-distorted lamentation, after Ian Curtis' suicide and for better or worse into mega-stardom of the New Wave synth phenomena New Order.

    Joy Division: Singularly Haunting Post-Punk

    As bassist for Joy Division – one of the most important bands of the post-punk movement in England – Peter Hook kept the rhythm together, a kind-of-distorted lamentation, after Ian Curtis' suicide and for better or worse into mega-stardom of the New Wave synth phenomena New Order.

    Continue Reading...

  • Lucifer Rising is Kenneth Anger's portrait of the love generation, the dawning of a new age and morality. Inspired by the ancient solar religions and conceived with occultist Aleister Crowley's vision of the Age of Aquarius.

    Lucifer Rising: God of Light and Color in Experimental Film

    Lucifer Rising is Kenneth Anger's portrait of the love generation, the dawning of a new age and morality. Inspired by the ancient solar religions and conceived with occultist Aleister Crowley's vision of the Age of Aquarius.

    Continue Reading...

  • Iannis Xenakis, the Greek composer trained as an architect, created expressive works of mind-bending mathematical complexity that according to one critic, have "all the teeming unpredictable power of a glacier, the thrilling complexity of shape and movement of a mass animal migration."

    Iannis Xenakis: Musical Sorcery Using Mathematical Totems

    Iannis Xenakis, the Greek composer trained as an architect, created expressive works of mind-bending mathematical complexity that according to one critic, have "all the teeming unpredictable power of a glacier, the thrilling complexity of shape and movement of a mass animal migration."

    Continue Reading...

  • "Janis Ivanovs is like thunder and lightning, cleansing the air with his Lucifer sounds. His symphonies are like ancient Greek tragedies, filled with ecstasy and purification." So wrote another Latvian composer and music critic, Margers Zarins.

    Symphonic Thunder and Lightning of Janis Ivanovs

    "Janis Ivanovs is like thunder and lightning, cleansing the air with his Lucifer sounds. His symphonies are like ancient Greek tragedies, filled with ecstasy and purification." So wrote another Latvian composer and music critic, Margers Zarins.

    Continue Reading...

  • This awful cult of talentless hipsters has its Mecca in Los Angeles, according to Will Self. He asserts his generation took the avant-garde and turned it into a successful rearguard action by the flying columns of capitalism’s blitzkrieg. What to make of the commodification and democratization of culture, and where to go from here?

    Will Self: Talentless Hipsters and Commodification Culture

    This awful cult of talentless hipsters has its Mecca in Los Angeles, according to Will Self. He asserts his generation took the avant-garde and turned it into a successful rearguard action by the flying columns of capitalism’s blitzkrieg. What to make of the commodification and democratization of culture, and where to go from here?

    Continue Reading...

  • "In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see. If I write of "sadism" it is because it exists, I didn't invent it, and if some terrible act occurs in my work it is because such things happen in our lives. I am not on the side of evil, if such a thing as evil abounds." -- Charles Bukowski

    Charles Bukowski: Madness is Never Ordinary

    "In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see. If I write of "sadism" it is because it exists, I didn't invent it, and if some terrible act occurs in my work it is because such things happen in our lives. I am not on the side of evil, if such a thing as evil abounds." -- Charles Bukowski

    Continue Reading...

  • Champion of the disinherited of postwar Italy, Pier Paolo Pasolini's masterworks prefigured his country's fall to a consumerist Heart of Darkness, an uncompromising vision that may have led to his own wretched death. A biopic by Abel Ferrara at the Venice biennale will reconstruct the last hours of the Italian film director, who was murdered in 1975.

    The Ongoing Reconsideration of Pier Paolo Pasolini

    Champion of the disinherited of postwar Italy, Pier Paolo Pasolini's masterworks prefigured his country's fall to a consumerist Heart of Darkness, an uncompromising vision that may have led to his own wretched death. A biopic by Abel Ferrara at the Venice biennale will reconstruct the last hours of the Italian film director, who was murdered in 1975.

    Continue Reading...

  • "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," an ages-old fairy tale interpreted as a poem by Goethe, made famous today by Disney's "Fantasia," illustrated the dangers of power over wisdom, and the risk of human creations getting out of control.

    Goethe’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”: Power Over Wisdom

    "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," an ages-old fairy tale interpreted as a poem by Goethe, made famous today by Disney's "Fantasia," illustrated the dangers of power over wisdom, and the risk of human creations getting out of control.

    Continue Reading...

  • Orson Welles, the cinematic genius who ended his days selling cheap wine, was both noble and feeble, titanic and pathetic, sacred monster and profane clown, says Peter Conrad. We take samples from his oeuvre, his noir thriller The Stranger and his stylistic fragmentation, Othello.

    Orson Welles: Tragic Hero, Sacred Monster, Profane Clown

    Orson Welles, the cinematic genius who ended his days selling cheap wine, was both noble and feeble, titanic and pathetic, sacred monster and profane clown, says Peter Conrad. We take samples from his oeuvre, his noir thriller The Stranger and his stylistic fragmentation, Othello.

    Continue Reading...

  • Austrian media artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has custom-built a record player that is able to "play" cross-sectional slices of tree trunks. The result is his art piece "Years," an audio recording of tree rings being read by a computer and turned into music, much like a record player's needle reads the grooves on an LP.

    Music of the Tree Rings: Sound of a Wild Forest

    Austrian media artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has custom-built a record player that is able to "play" cross-sectional slices of tree trunks. The result is his art piece "Years," an audio recording of tree rings being read by a computer and turned into music, much like a record player's needle reads the grooves on an LP.

    Continue Reading...

  • Walkabout, vision quest, walking in Dreamtime, all of it refers to a particular rite of passage from the indigenous Australians, but also in evidence in animist cultures throughout the world. The 1971 film of the same name narrates a young woman and her brother's journey beyond their Western frame, but never quite able to follow the ancestor paths, or songlines, of the land.

    Walkabout: Following Songlines Beyond the Western Frame

    Walkabout, vision quest, walking in Dreamtime, all of it refers to a particular rite of passage from the indigenous Australians, but also in evidence in animist cultures throughout the world. The 1971 film of the same name narrates a young woman and her brother's journey beyond their Western frame, but never quite able to follow the ancestor paths, or songlines, of the land.

    Continue Reading...

  • On the passing of the celebrated Colombian magical realist Gabriel García Marquez, we explore some of the highlights from his Nobel Prized Literary career.

    Gabriel García Márquez on Latin American Dictatorship and Liberation

    On the passing of the celebrated Colombian magical realist Gabriel García Marquez, we explore some of the highlights from his Nobel Prized Literary career.

    Continue Reading...

  • Apart from articulating a debate on race and rhythm, black nationalism and the urban struggle in the 1950s US, the 1959 experimental film "The Cry of Jazz" shows cosmic philosopher and Afro-futurist Sun Ra during his Chicago period.

    Sun Ra: “The Cry of Jazz” and the Sounds of Black Liberation

    Apart from articulating a debate on race and rhythm, black nationalism and the urban struggle in the 1950s US, the 1959 experimental film "The Cry of Jazz" shows cosmic philosopher and Afro-futurist Sun Ra during his Chicago period.

    Continue Reading...

  • Jorge Luis Borges forged into the realm of literary magic, he led his readers down through the Garden of Forking Paths, wandering the red and tranquil labyrinths in Elegy, growing old in so many mirrors, seeking in vain the marble gaze of statues, compiling regrets of a fantastic nature. Watch the BBC profile on him as an elder of strange destiny who had seen nothing, or almost nothing, but the face of a girl from Buenos Aires, a face that does not want you to remember it.

    Jorge Luis Borges: On Literary Magic and Garden Labyrinths

    Jorge Luis Borges forged into the realm of literary magic, he led his readers down through the Garden of Forking Paths, wandering the red and tranquil labyrinths in Elegy, growing old in so many mirrors, seeking in vain the marble gaze of statues, compiling regrets of a fantastic nature. Watch the BBC profile on him as an elder of strange destiny who had seen nothing, or almost nothing, but the face of a girl from Buenos Aires, a face that does not want you to remember it.

    Continue Reading...

  • "The Atrocity Exhibition" is J.G. Ballard’s instruction manual in how to disrupt mass media and recontextualize technology in a dystopian landscape overrun with industrial waste and technological white noise. Watch the piece on Ballard and the Motorcar, that careens across the landscape of his controversial novel, "Crash."

    J. G. Ballard: Atrocity Exhibition and the Modernist Motorcar Dystopia

    "The Atrocity Exhibition" is J.G. Ballard’s instruction manual in how to disrupt mass media and recontextualize technology in a dystopian landscape overrun with industrial waste and technological white noise. Watch the piece on Ballard and the Motorcar, that careens across the landscape of his controversial novel, "Crash."

    Continue Reading...

  • The Mexican film Macario (1960) weaves a tale of magical realism - with special appearances by God, the Devil and Death. It all begins on the Day of the Dead, when a campesino named Macario goes on a hunger strike. B. Traven, the mysterious German writer exiled in Mexico, wrote the story, inspired from indigenous folk tales.

    B. Traven’s “Macario” – Magical Realist Journey on Day of the Dead

    The Mexican film Macario (1960) weaves a tale of magical realism - with special appearances by God, the Devil and Death. It all begins on the Day of the Dead, when a campesino named Macario goes on a hunger strike. B. Traven, the mysterious German writer exiled in Mexico, wrote the story, inspired from indigenous folk tales.

    Continue Reading...

  • Film and music of shimmering yet jarring beauty play together on a South Seas beach in "Legong: Dance of the Virgins." It's a rarely screened 1935 silent movie, shot entirely in Bali with a Balinese cast, mixed with a new score by Club Foot Orchestra and Gamelan Sekar Jaya. Presented in a crude but rich two-strip early Technicolor process, one of the last silent films made by Hollywood, it depicts Bali as Westerners idealized it at the time.

    Legong Film: Balinese Dream Dance of Nymphs in Heaven

    Film and music of shimmering yet jarring beauty play together on a South Seas beach in "Legong: Dance of the Virgins." It's a rarely screened 1935 silent movie, shot entirely in Bali with a Balinese cast, mixed with a new score by Club Foot Orchestra and Gamelan Sekar Jaya. Presented in a crude but rich two-strip early Technicolor process, one of the last silent films made by Hollywood, it depicts Bali as Westerners idealized it at the time.

    Continue Reading...

  • Bicycle Thieves (Italian: Ladri di biciclette), also known as The Bicycle Thief, is director Vittorio De Sica's 1948 story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.

    Vittorio De Sica: The Alienated Unemployed in “Bicycle Thieves”

    Bicycle Thieves (Italian: Ladri di biciclette), also known as The Bicycle Thief, is director Vittorio De Sica's 1948 story of a poor father searching post-World War II Rome for his stolen bicycle, without which he will lose the job which was to be the salvation of his young family.

    Continue Reading...

  • In 1934, Henry Miller, then aged forty-two and living in Paris, published his first book. In 1961, finally distributed in his native land the book promptly became a best-seller and a cause célèbre. By now, the "controversies" dominate his legacy, including issues of censorship, obscenity, misogyny and anti-Semitism, clouding the import of Henry Miller's words. "Tropic of Cancer" broke literary ground, mixing novelistic forms with autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, and surrealist free association.

    Henry Miller’s Free Association into the Surreal

    In 1934, Henry Miller, then aged forty-two and living in Paris, published his first book. In 1961, finally distributed in his native land the book promptly became a best-seller and a cause célèbre. By now, the "controversies" dominate his legacy, including issues of censorship, obscenity, misogyny and anti-Semitism, clouding the import of Henry Miller's words. "Tropic of Cancer" broke literary ground, mixing novelistic forms with autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, and surrealist free association.

    Continue Reading...

  • Robert Pinsky on Sylvia Plath: "Thrashing, hyperactive, perpetually accelerated, the poems of Sylvia Plath catch the feeling of a profligate, hurt imagination, throwing off images and phrases with the energy of a runaway horse or a machine with its throttle stuck wide open."

    Lady Lazarus: The Hurt Imagination of Sylvia Plath

    Robert Pinsky on Sylvia Plath: "Thrashing, hyperactive, perpetually accelerated, the poems of Sylvia Plath catch the feeling of a profligate, hurt imagination, throwing off images and phrases with the energy of a runaway horse or a machine with its throttle stuck wide open."

    Continue Reading...

  • A community of coffee farmers in Uganda has formed the Peace Kawomera Fair Trade Cooperative, focused on people of different faiths putting aside their differences to overcome generations of conflict and poverty. Now a Smithsonian Folkways recording has been released to celebrate their achievements.

    Uganda: Coffee Farmers Sing Delicious Peace

    A community of coffee farmers in Uganda has formed the Peace Kawomera Fair Trade Cooperative, focused on people of different faiths putting aside their differences to overcome generations of conflict and poverty. Now a Smithsonian Folkways recording has been released to celebrate their achievements.

    Continue Reading...

  • Almost forty years after his violent death, Pier Paolo Pasolini, filmmaker, poet, journalist, novelist, playwright, painter, actor, and all-around intellectual public figure, remains a subject of passionate argument. Best known for a subversive and difficult body of film work, loaded with Renaissance and Baroque iconography, he championed the disinherited and damned of postwar Italy, mingling an intellectual leftism with a fierce Franciscan Catholicism.

    Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Subversive Champion of the Disinherited

    Almost forty years after his violent death, Pier Paolo Pasolini, filmmaker, poet, journalist, novelist, playwright, painter, actor, and all-around intellectual public figure, remains a subject of passionate argument. Best known for a subversive and difficult body of film work, loaded with Renaissance and Baroque iconography, he championed the disinherited and damned of postwar Italy, mingling an intellectual leftism with a fierce Franciscan Catholicism.

    Continue Reading...

  • Lou Harrison: A World of Music is an intimate portrait of an eclectic composer who traded a fast-paced New York career for a remote cabin in the woods. Harrison, a polymath, iconoclast, writer and activist, embraced artistic playfulness over the business of composing. Experimenting freely with western, eastern and custom made instruments, Harrison forged a new course for 20th century music.

    The Gamelan Vibrations of Lou Harrison

    Lou Harrison: A World of Music is an intimate portrait of an eclectic composer who traded a fast-paced New York career for a remote cabin in the woods. Harrison, a polymath, iconoclast, writer and activist, embraced artistic playfulness over the business of composing. Experimenting freely with western, eastern and custom made instruments, Harrison forged a new course for 20th century music.

    Continue Reading...

  • Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 masterpiece, "The Battle of Algiers," as a study of the brutality of urban guerrilla warfare, serves an Arab-street-level counterpoint to Kathryn Bigelow's US-imperialism-centered, torture-driven war propaganda film, "Zero Dark Thirty."

    The Battle of Algiers: A Brutal Portrait of Urban Guerrilla Warfare

    Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 masterpiece, "The Battle of Algiers," as a study of the brutality of urban guerrilla warfare, serves an Arab-street-level counterpoint to Kathryn Bigelow's US-imperialism-centered, torture-driven war propaganda film, "Zero Dark Thirty."

    Continue Reading...