Maryanne Amacher: Labyrinth Gives Way to Skin Stolen Souls Seminar

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Hosted by: The Kitchen

Stolen Souls is the third installment of Labyrinth Gives Way To Skin, Blank Forms’ ongoing collaboration with the Maryanne Amacher Archive, exploring the work of the pioneering composer through a series of seminars and listening sessions. As a whole, Amacher’s work and collected archive represents a highly significant, yet as of now largely unavailable artistic contribution. Assembled in her home in Kingston, NY in 2009, shortly before her death, the archive contains a wealth of her groundbreaking research and investigation. Much of the material was organized by Amacher herself and includes annotated drafts, project notes, performance materials, ephemera, and audio versions dating to the early 1960s. Due to the often durational and site-specific nature of her sound installation works, many audiences have not been exposed to Amacher and her practice, despite her significance to the field.

The task of adequately communicating Amacher’s practice to a larger audience extends beyond the discursive and into the practical, archival, and artistic, insofar as Amacher’s radical avant-garde project remains largely incompatible with received disciplinary and institutional categories. Accordingly, for the current interim period in which Amacher’s materials are still being digitized and cataloged, Blank Forms has decided upon a hybrid presentation format to both meet the large public demand for access to the Amacher materials, and to think through the materials collectively and publicly. The format is two-fold—a seminar followed by a listening session—in order to offer visitors different degrees of engagement with the material. Seminars last three hours, require advance enrollment, and encourage in-depth examinations of particular clusters of digitized Amacher documents. Led by an expert (Amacher collaborators, academics, and members of the Amacher Archive team), visitor-participants are guided through the conceptual, formal, and biographical details of particular Amacher works. Following the seminar, the more widely attended listening sessions present newly digitized audio documents related to or adjacent to the works and concepts discussed in the seminar.

The Seminar: The Mini Sound Series

After transitioning to the entire-building scale of “MUSIC FOR SOUND JOINED ROOMS SERIES” in the early 1980s, Maryanne Amacher sought out a format that would best allow visitors to navigate her architecturally staged sound works. In 1985 in San Francisco during a residency at the Capp Street Project she presented SOUNDHOUSE, the first iteration of “THE MINI SOUND SERIES,” a “serialized musical continuity.” Writing soon after on the “MINI SOUND SERIES” format, Amacher notes, “As a form, the Mini Series is powerful and challenging, yet up to now, only television uses it. I wanted the kind of engaging format television has developed […], an evolving sound work ‘to be continued,’ as distinguished from a continuous installation, or traditional concert genre.” For the next 20 years, Amacher would present MINI SOUND SERIES’ across the US, Europe, and in Japan. As recounted in a 1989 interview, the format was a great success with “ticket demand in Berlin […] so great that the number of performances was increased from eight to eighteen, […] and the lines in San Francisco wrapping around the block.” The Seminar offers a selection of documents, images, and audio from various iterations of THE MINI SOUND SERIES presented by Amy Cimini, Bill Dietz, and Robert The.

Co-presented with The Kitchen, in collaboration with Sonic Acts (NL) and the Maryanne Amacher Archives.