Old Fire Station Blog

News, happenings and goings on from the Old Fire Station, Oxford

INTERVIEW: Gesamtkunstwerk What? An Interview with Jack Goldstein

One Note Forever, an Oxford based music blog dedicated to showcasing new music, reviews, features and video, caught up with Jack Goldstein curator of our upcoming event Gesamtkunstwerk Memetics #1 and had a chat. Find out what Gesamtkunstwerk means, where Jack’s inspiration for the night comes from and what you can expect from the show. Here’s a selection of questions and answers from the interview…

Hi Jack, firstly, Gesamtkunstwerk Memetics. What’s in the name?

“I went to a retrospective of the works of Eileen Gray at The Pompidou Centre last year. Eileen Gray, was an designer, architect, and lacquer artist who pioneered modern architecture and design in the early 20th century. She was popular for about ten minutes in the twenties, with the Avant-gardist critics, and then fell into complete obscurity for the latter half of her life. I was reading about her at the time and it said that she was now considered a total creator, in the spirit of ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’. I looked up the word and it’s a concept, first advanced as a theory by the german philosopher K. F. E. Trahndorff (I know nothing about him to be honest!) which delineates the “integration of all of the arts (music, poetry, dance, and other visual elements) into a single medium of dramatic expression”. I thought it was a really great word so it became the name of the show.

In hindsight, I’m not sure it was the wisest title choice. For starters, it is impossible to pronounce […] and no one really knows what it means. Secondly, the term roughly translates as ‘Total Artwork’ and, being delineated as an integration of art forms into a single medium of art, suggests that the outcome must, in some sense, reflect a predetermined, socially-adhered ‘artform’ in the first place. This isn’t what we are trying to do with this show. We’re not setting out to make a ‘total artwork’ – I’d be happy to settle for a ‘total failure’.”

Will it be similar to your John Cage inspired show from early on in the year? What can those who did attend expect to be different?

“I think it’s going to be lots more fun, a little crazy and very odd. Well, there won’t be any John Cage for a start. I toyed with the idea of sticking some Cage in the show but realised I’d be doing it for no other reason than to try and arouse some interest in the show from the outset, which is obviously pretty abhorrent and cynical way of going about things. Having the name John Cage on your poster does a fair bit, he’s easily the most popular avant-garde composer of the 20th century and, what with the centenary of his birth last year, interest in him is at an all time high. I love John Cage, it’s just that I wanted to go out on a limb, do something completely different and, as expected, it’s proving to be much harder to promote as a show.

That said, I would imagine there to be Cagian elements to many of the performers work. Steve Beresford is a huge John Cage fan. […] There will be another handmade program that details the performers and their work, as well as having details about the show and upcoming performances by each performer. I don’t want to give away anything else!”

What inspired you to put on such an evening? 

“I knew I wanted to do something after the Cage show, before the next Fixers record, but didn’t really know what it was. I guess it boils down to my last eight months of culture consumption, lots of comedy, music, poetry etc etc. There was this connection between performance art, comedy and experimental music which I hadn’t really made before. Simply based on how hard it is to promote this show, I think it’s safe to say that Oxford isn’t crying out for a show like this. That said, I hadn’t really thought about it to be honest with you. I just happen to live in Oxford, it seemed to make sense to do the show here. We might get on a lot better in London, you can never really tell.”

Which performance are you most looking forward to and why?

“It’s more the integration of different disciplines I am excited, or should I say scared, about. I have no idea what will happen when this bunch of seemingly disparate individuals perform on the same stage together, I have no idea what could happen. I am also really excited to be able to have the opportunity to perform with artists that I really admire as well. […]

Are you hoping to do more of these kind of shows in the future? 

We will have to see. At the moment, the next thing which I am going to turn my attention to is the new Fixers record and some fictional writing I have been looking to do. I have been in touch with several performers about doing another show though. Some of them are really eager and I’d love to see what they did.

What would make this show a success in your eyes?
I know it sounds dreadful, but I would just like people to attend. It would be a bit miserable if no one came. Other than that, I’m not too certain. Attendance is one of the few things you can’t really control when putting on a show. I do think about success, but I don’t like the idea of artistically compromising anything I do, so in that sense I find it’s better to just put to the back of your mind.

To see the full interview, visit http://onenoteforever.com/jack-goldstein-interview/   

‘Gesamtkunstwerk Memetics’ takes place on Saturday 27 July 2013 at the Old Fire Station and tickets can be purchased here>

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