Julius Eastman / The Unbreathing – Opening
“What I am trying to achieve is to be what I am to the fullest – black to the fullest, a musician to the fullest, and a homosexual to the fullest.”
Julius Eastman (1940–1990) is a figure of eminent importance far beyond his singular musical work. Throughout his lifetime, the American composer, pianist, singer, choreographer and dancer oscillated between the establishment and the margins, both of the experimental music scenes in Buffalo and New York and of US society at large. He was a rare voice within the new music world that confronted homophobia, capitalism and racism. All the more startling is Eastman’s virtual erasure from the pages of 20th century music history. MaerzMusik 2017 opens with three of Julius Eastman’s mesmerizing works for four pianos: post-minimal music powered by a sense of organicity and political concern, unlike any other – a rediscovery that is overdue.
“The Unbreathing” turns rhythm itself into a political subject. Uriel Barthélémi takes certain rhythmic scales derived from geopolitical and social analyses. The piece proposes a transversal, raw and radical way of reading the countless civilizational interrelations brought about by various colonisations and their ever-increasing destructive ingestion of imaginary worlds.
Using images from Frantz Fanon’s ”The Wretched of the Earth” as guidelines, “The Unbreathing” develops an abstract narration starting from musical phenomena, evoking fragmented words, full of silence and meaning. Egyptian artist, writer and musician Hassan Khan has been brought in to create a floating textual structure.
This deliberately unstable solo also takes on an intense visual dimension: The drums control a set of epileptic images, influenced by the violence of journalistic pictures and the realm of manga. A daydream retracing centuries of that frantic race taking place through the destructive process of the colonisation of the mind.