Entering our second year, Blank Forms has taken big strides in fulfilling our mission to bring experimental performance and music to wider audiences, and this magazine is an essential part of that endeavour. This first issue brings together a combination of never-before published, lost, and new material that supplements Blank Forms’ live programs, creating a longer and more in-depth relationship with the artists and audiences we serve. In addition to organizing single events and performances, Blank Forms focuses on building multiple timelines and platforms for the dissemination of certain artists’ practices, thoughts, and ideas. In accordance with this strategy, we envision this magazine as a space for continued and extended dialogue with a focus on artists’ writing, making room for their voices to enter the discourse, and also as a space for critical reflection by a number of scholars and other figures working within the worlds of experimental music and art. The magazine additionally feeds back into our future programing, as we continue to build new ideas based on previous work and ongoing research.
Blank Forms’ inaugural event in March 2016—which explored the work of pioneering artist and composer Maryanne Amacher, held at the Emily Harvey Foundation—reflects our multi-faceted approach in providing context and exposure for incredibly important, yet underrepresented artists. For this issue of the magazine, we’ve selected some texts on Amacher that are representative of our first year of research. We are including an unpublished interview—originally broadcast on 89.3FM Listener Sponsored Community Radio, Olympia, Washington in the late 1980s—that highlights many of Amacher’s ideas around her “Long Distance Music” and “Mini Sound Series.” Alongside the interview is an essay by Bill Dietz on his collaborations with Amacher and subsequent work with her archive. We’ll continue our focus on Amacher’s work into the second year of Blank Forms programming with the realization of two of her instrumental works, Petra and Adjacencies, from Audjoins Suits. In anticipation of the Petra presentation this coming spring, we’ve included a section specifically on the background and performance of this work. A recent conversation between Marianne Schröder, Stefan Tcherepnin, and myself is less a reflection on Amacher’s work and practice, and more a revealing of some archival questions we’ve encountered regarding realizations of her work.
This issue also contains a selection of writings and remembrances of the late performance artist Ralston Farina, two of which are transcriptions from Shelley Hirsch’s and Richard Skidmore’s introduction to the screening of performance documents and videos that we presented at Artists Space Books and Talks last April. Farina’s work offers numerous unique challenges in terms of presentation, and for the most part we are reliant on oral history, friends, and collaborators recollections, as well as a small selection of videos that Farina made for grant applications. Charles Curtis’s notes on Terry Jenning’s Piece for Saxophone and Cello provides another approach to thinking about the transmission of a work as it passes through multiple stages of interpretation, ultimately resulting in the possibility of a realization we presented last June at Swiss Institute/Contemporary Art.
The other pieces that make up this issue are from artists that Blank Forms has presented in its first year, including a short statement by Joe McPhee drawing out the contemporary political climate in relation to his practice as an improviser. A conversation between Branden W. Joseph and Bruce Russell—Dead C co-founder and chronicler of the New Zealand underground—is followed by one of Russell’s short essays. Adrian Rew has provided a new translation of a rare interview with Anne Gillis, and Robin Mackay has provided us with a section of his translation of Francois Bonnet’s forthcoming book Unveiling (The Infra World). We’ve also included a proposal for a performance, as well as additional notes, by Dawn Kasper, as a window into the life of an artist working in experimental performance.
Originally published in Yeti magazine, the 1998 conversation between Ian Nagoski and Éliane Radigue has been included in advance of future Blank Forms projects with Éliane. As Ian notes in his introduction, the conversation took place at a time when there was little interest in Éliane’s work, but soon after its initial publishing, she would have of a revival of sorts, followed by a series of collaborations with instrumentalists producing an entirely new body of late work. In my mind, it provides one of the clearest overviews of Éliane’s early work and life.
As Blank Forms moves forward into our second year, we’ll continue our series of public programs and concerts in addition to launching a number of new initiatives—including a record label, a publishing imprint, and a commissioning series for new works. As we expand the organization, our reach, and our audience, the magazine will play a central role in documenting everything that we do, collecting our ideas and conversations, and creating a space for the dissemination of thoughts and writings around the artists we’re working with.