Taking center stage in One Wind to Another: Sven Daigger talks to Marcel Duchamp's Moth King is a plant known in the German vernacular as Mottenkönig because of its strong odor that is capable of repelling moths and other insects. It is commonly known in English-speaking countries as Pink Spur. It is against the painterly, romantic backdrop of Lake Geneva that a musical composition by Sven Daigger now enters into a dialog with this plant, the roots of which steadily continue to ramify and can be observed through the tiny windows of the Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp. Sven Daigger's composition for soprano, pianoforte and electronics is a musical interpretation of Christian Morgenstern's poem Windgespräch (Two Winds in Conversation).
Talking to a plant furthers its growth, as the ancient adage goes. The Moth King in question, however, has been nurtured less by spoken words than by the spirit of Marcel Duchamp, for this plant, with its light-green leaves and – if well tended – pinkish violet flowers, is a cutting from a plant given by the artist to Jasper Johns in New York during the 1960s. After a very roundabout journey it found its way into the Duchamp Research Center of the Staatliches Museum Schwerin and from there was given as a gift to the artists and co-founders of the Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp, Stefan Banz and Caroline Bachman, who for many years have been devoting themselves, both artistically and academically, to the oeuvre of Marcel Duchamp.
Although the Moth King propagates itself through its cuttings, it is basically the same plant that existed half a century ago. In the course of time, however, it has become a fabric woven with stories full of images and anecdotes. Thus the Moth King transcends its mere existence as a plant and becomes a myth, the kind of myth that at times raises doubts about its true origin. Is it really a cutting from a plant that once belonged to Marcel Duchamp?
This myth-laden Moth King now meets up at the KMD with a sensuous, masterly piece for the pianoforte that harks back to the musical language of Romanticism. One of the central elements of the composition is a musical citation from Johannes Brahms, which the latter had in turn borrowed from the Romantic composer Robert Schumann. Just like the cuttings from the Moth King, it has made its way from one station to another and—in a completely new context—enters into a dialog with the unknown.
Here set to music, Christian Morgenstern's poem is likewise a dialog between two strangers: an insignificant breeze meets a restless, widely traveled wind that simply cannot wait to move on:
“You mean you never knew
“No, I only know these woods,
I’m, like, just a local wind—
been to Johnson’s Dry Goods?”
Thus it is around the Romantic idea of traveling the world that One Wind to Another: Sven Daigger talks to Marcel Duchamp's Moth King revolves. Daigger's composition is a mental voyage that will transport visitors to the KMD into another world, if only for a moment. It is a musical wind that evokes the fleeting and the immaterial, momentarily capturing whatever is forever in a state of motion and change. Duchamp's Moth King too is constantly on the move: for every new owner of one of its cuttings becomes involved in new ideas, in new interpretations, in new contexts of use and meaning. Indeed, it beats—entirely in keeping with Duchamp's habitually dialectic, never finite way of thinking—the moths out of old clothes. In other words: when Daigger's musical wind wafts about Duchamp's pungent plant, the effect may indeed be infra-thin but it is also an invitation to the visitor to engage in an artistic discourse.
A project realized in collaboration with the Staatliches Museum Schwerin and part of its exhibition,The Revolution of the Romantics - FLUXUS made in USA (March 13 – June 9, 2014).
Sven Daigger, born in Eberbach/Neckar in 1984, studied composition in Rostock and Salzburg from 2007 to 2012. Daigger is a scholarship student of the German National Academic Foundation and winner of the first prize in the contests “2011 Earplay Donald Aird Memorial Composers Competition” (USA) and “recherche” (Austria 2011). He is currently continuing his study of music theory with Dr. Jan Philipp Sprick at the Music Academy and Theater in Rostock as well as his study of composition at the Music Academy in Karlsruhe with Prof. Wolfgang Rihm.
On the occasion of the exhibition, a catalogue will be published:
Besides, it’s always the others who die
A publication edited by Lu Cafausu
Distributed by Verlag für moderne Kunst, Nuremberg, Germany
About 200 pages, ISBN 978-3-86984-080-2
Contents: A collective text based on a conversation held in Rome on January 19, 2014 between Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese, Cesare Pietroiusti, Luigi Presicce, Mattia Pellegrini, Roberto Tenace, Caterina Pecchioli, Davide Ricco, Gianluca Marinelli, Sara Alberani, Irene Coppola, Sarah Ciracì, Lisa Batacchi, Luca Musacchio, Marco Benincasa, and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.
With special contributions by Stefan Banz, Francesca Marianna Consonni, Adrian Paci, Alcide Pierantozzi, Antonella Rizzo, and Franco Vaccari.
Approximately 20 images, found the same day at the flea market, that are quoted in the text, and a series of drawings by Francesco Lauretta portraying people in the pose of recently dead bodies, executed during the 4th edition of “The Celebration of the Living (who reflect upon death)”.
About the publication: This book, whose title is the epitaph on Marcel Duchamp’s tombstone, is one of several initiatives that Lu Cafausu has developed around the theme of death, starting from “The Celebration of the Living (who reflect upon death)”.
This Celebration is an annual event, made by the Italian artist collective whose members are Emilio Fantin, Luigi Negro, Giancarlo Norese, Cesare Pietroiusti and Luigi Presicce. The artists proposed to turn the November 2 traditional celebration of the Dead, the “Day of the Dead”, into a new holiday: “La festa dei vivi (che riflettono sulla morte) – The Celebration of the Living (who reflect upon Death)”. For the first edition of this celebration, on November 2nd, 2010, they invited those who were interested to be part of a pilgrimage, probably the shortest and slowest in the world, that departed from its destination (rather than arriving at it): Lu Cafausu in San Cesario di Lecce.
Lu Cafausu is a mysterious small building, an architectural remnant that the artists have elected as a source of metaphors and narratives. It is “an imaginary place that really exists”, around which the presence of death floats. Any day, the small building might in fact be demolished to accommodate more parking space for cars, or might also fall apart due to its precarious, old architecture. It could also be turned into a frozen, dead monument. Because of this feeling of the presence of death, Lu Cafausu is an ideal place for a new celebration. “La Festa dei Vivi” is for those who, in order to give meaning to life, reflect upon death; their own, “first and foremost.”
We think that the book will be a wonderful occasion for including, rather than our previous texts or documentation of projects, some ongoing ideas and suggestions coming from the encounters with old and new friends. We would like the book to face the theme of death from different points of view and we would like to include as a connection to it, the accident, chance, the unexpected or, let’s say, the “cafausic” (referring to Lu Cafausu arcane properties…).
Gelosia (jealousy) was, by chance, the name of our boat during the 2010 pilgrimage. Jealousy is a feeling related to the death of love, and yet at the very heart of love’s aliveness… Lu Cafausu taught us that coincidences are meaningless if taken as mere coincidences: only when you are aware of connections you can become free to open yourself to their mystery, to their truth or, rather, to their multiple, inextricable, and fragile truths. And then, after all, as it happens, it’s always us who die.
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