Publication forthcoming late 2023 My article Texts and Writings as Agencies in Composition. A Posthuman Tractate will be published in the volume Text as Source and Material in Contemporary Music Theatre by the editor Christa Brüstle, published with Universal Edition, Vienna expected in 2023.
05/12/2023, 19:30 Reaktor Wien Cantando Admont: Concert Talk – A sei voci Cantando Admont performs my piece MORDACIOUS LIPS, TO DUST as part of an amazing program. https://www.cantando-admont.com/konzerte/
21/09/2023 Austrian Music Theatre Day Fluid Spaces – New Music Theatre in the Era of Machine Learning Among others, I will give a short presentation my recent music theatre WECHSELWIRKUNG. Full program under www.mttw.at
From August 21-25, I attend the Critical Posthumanism Summer School led by philosopher Rosi Braidotti at the University of Utrecht, together with a large and vibrant community of international students. It’s intense, the reading list is sheer endless, talks and discussions inspiring, exhaustion and delight mingle. The watery landscape around Utrecht accommodates it all.
I take long excursions with my bike – I came by train this time and took my collapsible bike with me. Best decision ever, although I’m the slowest person around. Birds, farm animals, the light, the waterways offers space to breathe. In the evenings, I come out here to read.
28/07/2023, 22:03 to 29/07/2023, 06:00 7 Stunden: Eine feministische Hör-Tour. Komponieren, publizieren, organisieren: Wegbereiterinnen aus vier Jahrzehnten.
Presented by Marie-Therese Rudolph and Marlene Schnedl, Radio Ö1 features new music by female* composers, 7 hours long. I participated in an extended conversation with composers Katharina Klement, Ming Wang, Flora St. Loup and the two presenters.
My new solo piece ROSE REINER WIDERSTAND for bass recorder and spoken voice was performed and recorded live at Funkhaus Studio 2 and will be heard during this radio show. Here you see the situation in the studio, I used the piece of paper on a stand for live noise production during the piece, too.
03/06/2023 – 20:00 echroaum Wien
https://echoraum.at/ Pia Palme & hoodwink |
Winnie Huang, violin+performance & Kevin T. Fairbairn, trombone+performance present the premiere of my new piece
BRYOZOA (2023) for violin, trombone, bass recorder + spoken voice, 3 drums, plant material, paper,
with music, text, video and choreography,
duration 40 minutes
21/04/2023 – 13:30-14:50 Dokkhuset Trondheim, Norway @14th SAR Conference TOO EARLY TOO LATE Performance lecture Pia Palme & Govert Valkenburg TIME(S) ON EARTH with spoken texts & a music performance by Palme (bass recorder) & Valkenburg (alto sax), texts by Palme & Valkenburg, composition & video by Pia Palme
15/03/2023 – 19:00 Neuer Saal, Gustav Mahler University, Klagenfurt Concert Schallfeld Ensemble Graz
Works by Mahnkopf, Palme, Posadas, Yoshida,
featuring the premiere of my new work and text Or is it microbiology? (2023) for lower voice and percussion with Helena Sorokina (contraalto) and Manuel Alcaraz-Clemente
24/02/2023 – 20:00 Pfarrkirche Mariahilf Graz Gesprächskonzert Cantando Admont / a sei voci https://www.cantando-admont.com
Directed by Cordula Buergi, the ensemble performs my work MORDACIOUS LIPS, TO DUST (2016, for four voices)
alongside works by M. Cardoso (1566 – 1650) and F. Filidei
26/01/2023 – 19.00 Depot Wien
Fragile Klänge: Pia Palme, Komponistin & Performerin Buchpräsentation & Screening
Kann Musik „mit anderen Ohren“ gehört werden? Die Komponistin und künstlerische Forscherin Dr. Pia Palme stellt ihr aktuelles Buch vor und berichtet von ihrer Arbeit über die Fragilität der Klänge. Ihre These ist, dass eine feministische und ökologische Grundhaltung persönliche Hörgewohnheiten verändern kann. Das Hintergrundrauschen wird wahrgenommen, ein Raum in seiner Tiefe ausgelotet.
Videoscreening: Cryoglyphs, Pia Palme 2022, 17 Min. Buch: Lehmann & Palme (Hg.), Sounding Fragilities. An Anthology, Hofheim: Wolke Verlag 2022.
My article and video Composing with a Polluted Planet is be published as part of the (Peer reviewed) volume Performing, Engaging, Knowing
Proceedings of the 7th Study Group Meeting of the ICTM Study Group on Applied Ethnomusicology, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Lucerne, Switzerland.
17/11/2022 Radio OE1 23:03 – 24:00 series Zeitton & musikprotokoll
Astrid Schwarz presents a feature about my performance and the dialogue with musicologist Susanne Kogler, @musikprotokoll in October. With a new recording of NOCH RADIKALER (2022) @studio Martin Siewert.
Music and discourse with Pia Palme, Susanne Kogler, Astrid Schwarz https://oe1.orf.at/programm/20221117/698245/Die-Palme-und-Susanne-Kogler-ueber-feministisches-Komponieren
02/11/2022 echroaum Vienna 19:30 – 22:00 FRAGILE SOUNDINGS An evening with music & discourse featuring live performances by Electric Indigo, Veza Fernández, Elaine Mitchener, Séverine Ballon, and Pia Palme. Discourse with musicologist Dr. Susanne Kogler (University of Graz).
07/10/2022 14:30 – 16:00 Panel – musikprotokoll @ARTikulationen Whodentity – Self and Other in Artistic Collaborations With Caroline Gatt, John Eckhardt, Miya Masaoka, Pia Palme
photo #musikprotokoll 2022 ARTikulationen panel, credit M. Gross
17/09/2022 – 15:45-17:15 VOGELFUSS, MENSCHENSCHUH – 4 Module Loidl
@Literaturmeile Zieglergasse, Galerie-Lounge
Zum 65. Geburtstag von Christian Loidl
Der Verein Farnblüte präsentiert eine Lyrik-Performance mit u.a. Susanne Toth,
Musik von Marwan Abado, Wolfgang Musil, Pia Palme
10 + 11/09/2022 – 17:00
@Zacherlfabrik, 1190 Nusswaldgasse 14, inside & outside ZELTEN am verschwundenen Ufer Concert, performance, ecologies
with ensemble airborne extended, Manuel Alcaraz-Clemente, Thomas Gorbach, Pia Palme https://piapalme.at/zelten_zacherlfabrik/
Thanks to the BMKOES Department of Music, Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien and SKE austro mechana for funding this project.
My desk at home. Yes, the snake skin plays an important part in my new performance for the Angewandte Festival. I found it at Saari, during my residence. The video was also filmed at the Saari Residence. If you want to read more about the snakes, go to my blog [WITH] Saari.
29/06/2022 @Sonic Sensibility Universität für Angewandte Kunst Wien https://ail.angewandte.at/explore/sonic-sensibility/ 16:00 Panel discussion with Ricarda Denzer, Peter Kutin, Pia Palme and Karl Salzmann, moderated by Elisabeth Falkensteiner 19:00-21:00 performances by Paul Ebhart, Pia Palme, Fabian Lanzmaier.
I present my new performance In a former post office. A performative ecology Solo with voice, bass recorder, electronics, video & paper
Consider the old hall: it sounds by itself. In my performance, it is my living collaborator. I ask for their permission. It is alive and speaks with me. It allows me to project my video onto its surface. The hall performs with my instrument, reflecting, resonating, masking sound waves. My voice is with the floor, crawling into the basement. No, this is (not) another kind of animism, it is purely scientific thinking. My breath enters my instrument, flows through the big tube and exits through holes and openings. Softly, my sounding breath touches the walls, the columns, and moves up towards the glass ceiling. I listen to its history. We bow to each other.
A theatrical ecology with
Elie Halonen & Satu Hakamäki – shibari dance performance
Pia Palme – composition/subbass recorders Mari Zhiginas – voice Tuomas Laitinen – dialogist
Siiri Viljakka – live sketching
Storyboard and concept by Palme/Halonen/Hakamäki/Laitinen
Idea, collection of plant materials and videos by Pia Palme.
All artists are currently fellows at the Saari Residence maintained by Kone Foundation.
Photo of Satu Hakamäki during rehearsal by Tuomas Laitinen
On a former island is a theatrical ecology that brings together sound, dance, text, humans, visuals, paper, plant material, and anorganic matter and was developed for the Sibelius Museum. The piece was initiated by the composer and artistic researcher Pia Palme (Austria) and conceived, developed, and staged with Elie Halonen, Satu Hakamäki and Tuomas Laitinen (Finland). The artists met during their residence at Saari in March and April, found that they share a deep connection with nature and ecology in art, and decided to enter a risky collaborative process. They are joined by the vocalist Mari Zhiginas (Ukraine). For all of them, the interaction of disciplines in this form was new and offered space for joyful experimentation and discovery. Siiri Viljakka, comic artist, projects the performance onto paper by means of simultaneous sketching and drawing.
On March 3rd I will begin my work at the Saari Residency in Hietamäki near Turku, Finland by invitation of the Kone Foundation – until the end of April. I’m very much looking forward to this stay. My plan is to travel there by car, moving slowly across Europe. I bring instruments, electronic gear, books, and warm clothes. I want to feel the distance, the countries in between Vienna and Turku, and get a taste of the various landscapes. With this journey, I also want to commemorate my grandfather.
My plan is to compose, to make art and music, and write. The core theme is about bringing ecological ideas into my practice, experimenting with structures that draw on ecosystem ecology and creating compositional concepts that mirror these ideas. I want to listen to, and practice with, the environment and into myself, from an ecofeminist position.
5+6/11/2021 – 20:00 @FAHRBEREITSCHAFT – teilelager Herzbergstraße 40–43, 10365 Berlin
MUSIC FOR a house + a street The ensemble Berlin KNM presents new works by Julio Estrada, Laure M. Hiendl, Carlos Iturralde, Bum Ki Kim, Fang-Yi Lin, Wei-Chih Liu, Chao-Ming Tung, Pia Palme, Ana Maria Rodriguez and others.
With the premiere of my new text piece
commissioned by the KNM ensemble.
10/09/2021 @Ars Electronica Linz
at Kepler’s Gardens, outside Kepler Hall As part of the Big Concert Night 19:30 – 21:00 Music from the IMA Archive / With Beatriz Ferreyra, Pia Palme, Andrea Sodomka, curated by Elisabeth Schimana.
Very happy to announce that the Austrian Radio OE1 presents an extended feature as a three-part series about my work as composer and about the artistic research project On the Fragility of Sounds at the Kunstuniversität Graz under my direction.
July 16/2021, 23:03 – 24:00 (MESZ) Zeit-Ton Radio OE1 & online Presented by Astrid Schwarz On the Fragility of Sounds (1) Ein Rückblick auf das künstlerische Forschungsprojekt “On the Fragility of Sounds” With music by Elisabeth Schimana, Séverine Ballon, Elaine Mitchener, Electric Indigo (commissioned by On the Fragility of Sounds) and an excerpt of Wechselwirkung by Pia Palme. With, among others, the ensembles Schallfeld, Phace, and soprano Juliet Fraser. Listen under https://oe1.orf.at/programm/20210716/645189/On-the-Fragility-of-Sounds-Teil-1
July 18/2021, 22:05 – 23:00 (MESZ) Zeit-Ton Radio OE1 & online Presented by Astrid Schwarz On the Fragility of Sounds (2). Christina Lessiak empfiehlt.
Séverine Ballon, Violoncello Pia Palme, Bassblockflöte
Diskurs: Dr. Irene Lehmann
Eintritt gegen freie Spende
Das Konzert ist Teil des künstlerischen PEEK Forschungsprojektes On the Fragility of Sounds (2019 – 2021) an der KUG Kunstuniversität Graz, Zentrum für Genderforschung | FWF PEEK AR537. Gefördert vom FWF Austrian Science Fund.
Saturday, 29 May 2021, 6 pm
KNM’s Salon #2 – Historical Instruments in Contemporary Music
Stream fom KNM’s Garage 51 | Fahrbereitschaft Berlin
Moderation: Dr. Liam Cagney
Guests: Dr. Pia Palme, Komponistin (AUT) | Chao-Ming Tung, Komponist (TWN) | Matthew Conley, Musiker (USA/DEU)
Programme Pia Palme : KREIDEBLEICH (2019-2021)ma piece for harpsichord with microtonal tuning and preparations, version #4 (2021) with video, Sonja Leipold, Cembalo Ana Maria Rodriguez : Piedras for contrabass clarinet, baroque trumpet and live-electronics Ensemble KNM Berlin
Thursday, March 18/2021 – 5 PM [CET/UTC+1] Online Event
The Fragility of Sounds Lecture Series
Summary & Lecture #9
This is the final presentation in the series of lectures I curated with Christina Lessiak as part of my artistic research.
WITH. The significance of a preposition in my practice.
An evening of sonic explorationsand new works with Pia Palme bass recorder, video performance & electronics Margarethe Maierhofer-Lischka double bass & electronics Sonja Leipold harpsichord & preparations & objects
13.-15./11/2020 WUK Projektraum Vienna
in cooperation with Wien Modern festival and ensemble PHACE WECHSELWIRKUNG A montage for the Anthropocene
A piece for singer, dancer, electronics and instrumental ensemble
world premiere 60’
by Pia Palme, Paola Bianchi, Juliet Fraser, Irene Lehmann, Christina Lessiak − an artistic research collaboration group
as part of the PEEK Project On the fragility of sounds
The piece was premiered without audience and filmed.
Watch the trailer here:
22/09/2020/20:00 Aktionsradius Augarten, Gaußplatz 11, 1020 Wien In Erinnerung an Christian Loidl: Vom Finden und Filtern
Mitwirkende: Monika Heimbach, Christian Katt, Jaan Karl Klasmann, Eva Lavric, Richard Weihs mit Live-Musik von Pia Palme
This is the first event by Aktionsradius Augarten since the lockdown in March.
Radio orange playlist for Radio Augarten for the feature Christian Loidl: Schaffensprozess aus Lyrik und Performancekunst https://cba.fro.at/464940
presented by Mischa G. Hendl includes More Radically (Pia Palme & Rosie Middleton; Text by Pia Palme) The Sampler and the Drum (Pia Palme & Eric Gingras; Text by Pia Palme)
August 2020 UNCOOL Artist Residency, Poschiavo (CH)
I have been invited to be Artist in Residence in August, I travel to the Swiss mountain district Bernina, to the Uncool Residency in Poschiavo (organised and curated by Cornelia Müller). In a year like this, I very much look forward to this unique opportunity – and I hope that everybody stays healthy and everything will work out, including travel.
ISOLATION ISLAND – Reisebericht von einer Dämmerungslinie (2020)
This is the premiere of my 41 minute radio composition – or should I say radio experiment? – commissioned by KUNSTRADIO. It’s about my experiences and explorations as an artist in residence on Örö, a tiny island in the Finnish archipelago. Woven into field recordings, electronic music, and remixed compositions that were inspired by the residency, I talk and play my contrabass recorder. And, of course, I reflect upon some more recent observations about the lockdown, which reminded me so much about the exposed and isolated situation in Finland.
Derzeit arbeite ich an meinem neuen Musiktheaterstück WECHSELWIRKUNG, das im November bei Wien Modern uraufgeführt wird, mit u.a. Juliet Fraser, Paola Bianchi und dem Ensemble PHACE im Projektraum WUK.
Currently, I compose my new music theatre WECHSELWIRKUNG. Premiere planned in November with Wien Modern 2020, with ensemble PHACE at Projektraum WUK. Artistic research conducted in collaboration with Paola Bianchi, Juliet Fraser, and Christina Lessiak.
November 17th/2019 15:00 Pia Palme performs MORE RADICALLY #2 (Palme 2019) solo for spoken text and bass recorder Paris, Cathédrale Américaine, Concert à l’occasion du 30ème anniversaire de la fin de la guerre froide et de la libération de l’Europe centrale
I work on a new music theatre performance as part of
the artistic research project On the fragility of sounds.
Composing and researching, I evaluate the artistic process that took place since the project start in March.
02/07/2019 Radio OE1 Zeitton Fokus Komponistinnen im 21. Jahrhundert
Musicologist Marie-Therese Rudolph reports on the
UNESCO conference Être Compositrice in Paris 2019
and features an excerpt of the lecture-performance Pia Palme & Elisabeth Harnik
held at the beginning of the conference.
Also, listen to Ute Wassermann performing in Patterns to punctuate song, with darkness (Palme 2016)
Anna Clare Hauf, voice
Molly McDolan, oboe instruments
Ensemble airborne extended : Caroline Mayrhofer, recorders;
Elena Gabbrielli, flutes; Tina Žerdin, harp
Paola Bianchi, choreography & dance
Christina Bauer, sound design
Pia Palme, concept & composition
A post-residency concert & kick-off performance
of the FWF research project On the fragility of sounds
A story about a personal journey to a remote island. A performance, in times of transition, to celebrate the beginning of my research project about music theatre.
“Twigs flap against my face, as I roam through boreal forests on Örö Linnake. I think of my grandfather and grandmother, my heart cracks wide open, with melancholy moods spilling out, drifting towards the twilight shoreline. Longing fills the air, beside crisp smells of sea kale. I listen deeply into the landscape, and into myself.”
“Erforschend wenn nichts ist zur Unterhaltung musst du hier bleiben kannst nicht weg weder zu Fuss noch zu Kopf wenn, dann zu Herz”
(Örö, im November 2018)
Dusk songs entstand in einer Übergangszeit und markiert zugleich einen Anfang. Im letzten November hat für mich ein künstlerischer und persönlicher Prozess begonnen: den ganzen Monat hindurch lebte ich auf Örö, einer entlegenen, kleinen Insel im finnischen Archipelago. Als Artist in Residence erforschte ich die Insel, konnte dort schreiben, komponieren, üben (mein Instrument reiste mit mir), performen (an unterschiedlichen Orten, meist im Freien), filmen, aufnehmen, beobachten. Im Dämmerungsraum zwischen Herbst und Winter erlebte ich die einsame Landschaft als unerwartet abwechslungsreich und kleinräumig, vielseitig, zugleich ruhig und friedlich. Meinen täglichen Streifzüge brachten mich immer wieder an dieselben Orte, zu denselben Felsen, Buchten, Wäldern, Bäumen, und, ja, Pilzen. Ich entdeckte den Reichtum kleiner Veränderungen und verlor mich im diffusen Licht einer versinkenden, verborgenen Sonne.
Unmittelbar nach der Reise erfuhr ich, dass mein Antrag für ein künstlerisches Forschungsprojekt über Musiktheater vom FWF Austrian Science Fund bewilligt wurde. Unter dem Titel On the fragility of sounds arbeite ich somit, bis 2021, an Kompositionen im Feld Musiktheater, werde Projekte realisieren, weitere Kompositionsaufträge vergeben, sowie gemeinsam mit meiner Mitarbeiterin Christina Lessiak über diesen Prozess reflektieren und schreiben. Untertitel: Musiktheater als feministische Praxis. Für das Projekt springe ich als Komponistin kopfüber in die akademische Welt an der Kunstuni Graz. Die Performance Dusk Songs bringt erste Ergebnisse – oder vielmehr: erste Fragen und Reibungen – auf diesem Weg. Die Choreographin und Tanzperformerin Paola Bianchi wird mich dabei länger begleiten. Der Sängerin Anna Clare Hauf, der Oboistin und Lektorin Molly McDolan sowie dem hervorragendem Ensemble airborne extended und der Klangregisseurin Christina Bauer möchte ich für ihre künstlerische Mitarbeit danken. Da ich von der Barockmusik her komme und von dort vielfach inspiriert bin, ist das eine ideale Besetzung für eine erste Performance im Transit, für einen Ausgangspunkt. Überraschendes trat vor Kurzem über meine Familiengeschichte – genauer: über meinen Großvater väterlicherseits – zutage. Folglich wurzelt Dusk Songs tief in der Vergangenheit und weist zugleich in die Zukunft.
Fotos: Paola Bianchi by Francesco Balestrazzi, Pia Palme by Maria Frodl.
Dank an die SKE / austro mechana und an den echoraum.
Gefördert vom Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
Artistic Research Projekt AR537.
Residency unterstützt vom Örö Residency Programme, Arts Council of Finland und Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.
Winter has finally come to the archipelago. I took a last walk to the northern tip. This end of Örö is almost always windy and colder than the southern and eastern shores, although the distance is only few kilometers. The late afternoon light was dim with dreary clouds and a snowstorm approaching. At the same time, a dark grey Finnish warship had appeared in western direction. Military performances were being held right in front of the shore. Heavy gun fire erupted at irregular intervals. I could feel the strong detonations in my body; the loudest ones always blasted in quintuples. On the stony shore, I found a spot full of bleached and twisted juniper wood. In my imagination, the woods evoked the image of a baroque sculpture garden. In the midst of the wooden forms I spotted torn remnants of a seal carcass. Another layer of biological baroqueness. I recorded, took pictures, and filmed. A feast for the eyes, in low phenomena terrain.
On my way back I met a brown eagle. Eagles occur in boreal forests, as I have been told. With dusk falling in, I quietly moved along the shoreline. Shrubs and sparse trees were standing below, closer to the water. The huge bird flew off from one the juniper bushes nearby, appraoched me from behind and passed me just by my left shoulder, less than two meters away, quickly disappearing along the path and higher into the forest. It came so close that I felt like I could hold on to its back and take off. I clearly saw its feathery head and the muscular shoulders moving its strong wings. I have never seen a flying eagle from this perspective, let alone that close.
I have now returned to Helsinki. The journey took seven hours, including two hours that Marja and I had to spend waiting at the Örö harbour, while the ferry got ready for departure. At this time of the year, there are no fixed schedules for ferry rides; everything must be negotiated according to various professional needs. Heavy machinery was unloaded and brought to various places at the island. The machines will be used for building purposes; several of the century-old wooden houses are being renovated. At the same time, all power supplies on the island were shut down. Our residency was cold, without light and water. The truck then went back to the mainland with the ferry, too.
The boat was old and weathered. I immediately feel in love with the ancient workbench on deck. The experienced captain steered in his socks. The strictly observed Finnish rule to take off one’s shoes whenever entering a house was to be followed in his cabin, too. With a carpet on the floor and an orchid in the window, this cabin was a living room, indeed. Outside the weather was stormy, waves quite high. A hitchhike towards Helsinki greatly helped Marja and me on our way home. A construction engineer whom we met in the ferry offered a ride to us, including our bulky luggage. From Kasnäs, at this time of the year, no bus connections to Helsinki are available; we were truly lucky.
I’m back to urban life, to people, cars, roads, city noises, shops, flashing lights all over. At the moment, it is nearly impossible to find words. I’m in a state of in-between.
During my strolls over the island I have noticed a number of uniquely formed trees. The boreal forest in Örö is relatively young. When Örö was first used for military purposes, the woods were felled. Aerial views from the beginning of the 20th century show a barren landscape with multiple military edifices such as harbours, dockyard, barracks, heavy guns, artillery positions, industrial buildings, stables, the road and even a short railroad track. Over the last decades, the forest and shrubs were allowed to regrow; woodland quickly spread out. However, conditions in the archipelago are rough; trees must cope with strong winds and poor soil.
Three peculiar trees, unique specimen, caught my attention. Their life stores have touched me, as an artist and human being. Studying their shape, I read about their lives and experiences, and how they reacted individually. I learn to know them as personalities, with their peculiar characters. Trees communicate their life stories through their form and growth – a mode of embodied plant story telling. I often stayed for a longer time in the company of one of them. Observing the tree in silence, it becomes close to me, almost like a friend, but certainly like an individual that I know very well. The trees featured here have all been deeply wounded in middle age, most likely by heavy winds. Every one of them demonstrates remarkable resilience. With great admiration, I learned about their unique processes of healing and alternative modes of growth in adverse circumstances.
In particular, I want to draw attention to this fallen tree. It lives on the north-western coast of Örö, close to the coat line. In this plant, I detect a universe of resilience. The tree was felled by a gale as an already mature specimen. Yet, with only part of its roots still connected to the ground, it continued to grow.
For many years, it expanded further, via the few major branches that happened to point straight up after the fall. The upright branches took over as substitute trunks. The problem of such ersatz trunks is their relatively unsafe anchoring. Without roots as support, they need other modes of stabilisation. Seeking for additional support, the lowest secondary trunk entered into a precarious relationship with a young tree growing close by. Over the course of years, the branch virtually circled around its tree partner.
Like twins, both have currently grown to the same height. Very recently, the mother tree suffered yet another heavy wound. One of the strongest substitute stems was broken off by winds. Coming winter, will the mother tree survive? To ease the healing process, workers of the National Forest maintenance sawed off the severed branch.
With Örö being so small, I come across the same places over and over again. Almost every day, I visit certain key spots and look at the same constellations of objects, rocks, or plants. An opportunity opened up to study certain processes and change. My experience is that my perception took another direction in the archipelago, intensifying over the duration of the month. Due to the external circumstance, it is not possible to extend perception into new territories or into new themes. Therefore, perception deepens. That is, rather than exploring the new, I look into details and differences that happen over time. Change as a process came to the foreground of my perceptional explorations. Repeatedly observing a specific object, over days and weeks, my perception began to take note differences that appeared with or around that very object. Such was the case with the trees featured here.
Ich komme zu einer Anhöhe. Von der Wiese aus, hinter der Hügelkuppe, hat man einen schönen Blick aufs Yspertal. Ich wandere im Waldviertel, den Weg kenne ich gut. Jedesmal noch hat mich der Ausblick erfreut, besonders der Gedanke an das feine Gasthaus mit den zwei alten Birnbäumen davor, das an der Landstraße dahinter steht, weckt Erinnerungen: Klänge, Gerüche, Wärme nach einem kühlen Tag im Freien. Wohlige Erwartung beschleunigt meine Schritte.
Soweit die Fiktion. In Wirklichkeit bin ich immer noch auf der Insel Örö, fünf Meter über dem Meeresspiegel. Wenn ich weitergehe, weicht die Wiese einem Moospolster und Wacholderbüschen. Runde Granitfelsen fallen sanft zum Wasser ab. Der Blick weitet sich übers Meer. Ich sehe viele benachbarte Inselchen in allen Größen, soweit mein Auge reicht. Es gibt keine Landstraße, keine Birnbäume, und das nächste offene Restaurant ist 12km entfernt – am Festland in Kasnäs.
Immer wieder komme ich auf meinen Inselstreifzügen zu Plätzen, wo ich plötzlich ein Gefühl von Vertrautheit spüre. Kleinräumige Landschaften kommen mir mit einem Mal bekannt vor. Meine Wahrnehmung verbindet sich mit der Erinnerung, Illusionen verschleiern die offensichtliche Realität. Ich gebe diesen Orten geheime Namen: Waldviertel, Raxweg, Wienerwaldweg. Die Illusion hält nur an, solange ich den Blick eingrenze, nicht hebe. Manchmal spiele ich damit.
Ich beobachte, wie zugleich mit der Verschiebung meiner Wahrnehmung Erwartungen und Vorurteile an den jeweiligen Ort aufsteigen: ich kenne mich hier aus. Eine innere Sicherheit stellt sich ein, ein Eindruck von In-sich-ruhen. Hier bin ich nicht nur sicher, hier bin ich… Daheim? Verwurzelt? Entspannt? Gehalten? Bei mir/bei Freunden/wo ich verstanden werde? Selbst die Sprache verstehe? Den Weg kenne? Weiß, was mich auf der Speisekarte erwartet? Steckt hinter der Illusion vertrauter Umgebungen eine Sehnsucht nach so etwas wie Heimat? Wünsche ich mir, nicht ständig Unbekanntes entschlüsseln zu müssen? Bedeutet Heimat Sicherheit, und weniger Anstrengung – weil ich in der Fremde meine Wahrnehmungen dauernd scannen muss, ob auch alles sicher ist?
Erinnerung ist immer eine Form der Imagination. Erinnerung und Imagination sind miteinander verbunden. Wahrnehmung ist keinesfalls passiv, meint Eric Kandel, Neurowissenschafter und Nobelpreisträger (Eric Kandel, 2014, Das Zeitalter der Erkenntnis. München, Pantheon Verlag). Im Vorgang der Wahrnehmung wird die Welt aktiv und kreativ hergestellt. Ich habe die Wahl, meinen Blick einzugrenzen oder zu weiten. Wie Siri Hustvedt (2013, Living, Thinking, Looking. London, Hodder & Stoughton) schreibt:
This piece is dedicated to the Whopper swan, Finnish national bird. I performed the piece on a quiet day, no wind on the performance site. At times, a hum could be heard in the distance, probably from the nearby radar. The swans started calling soon after I had begun making my own noises. Some individuals flew across the performance site, sounding out. A large flock of birds gathered in a peaceful bay nearby and continued their communication, long after sunset.
I had fun doing some processing with the sounds. I think the swans would like it that way, too.
The forests of southern Finland are known to be rich in mushrooms and berries. Since my childhood, that is, as long as I can remember, I have been foraging for edible plants in the woods near Vienna – taught by my parents, with contagious passion. Upon arrival at the Örö residency quarters, the old school building situated within the forest, I was delighted to discover mushrooms growing right in front of my window. Moreover, my residential colleague, environmental researcher Marja Salo, herself a skilled and ardent forager with a broad expertise in Finnish berries and mushrooms, shares my enthusiasm.
It helps a lot to know that I can identify my harvest with her;Marja’s knowledge of local plants allows me to safely forage in a foreign environment. Beyond the question of safety, the culinary potential of the various findings is discussed, among likeminded practitioners of the art.
In the archipelago, the fall season is extended, because the sea cools off more slowly. After this year’s exceptionally hot summer, a nice variety of berries and mushrooms is still available –enriching the limited range of supplies we brought here. Risotto with mushrooms and mushroom sauce are delightfully tasty. Rose hips and cranberries turn into wild desserts, or add flavour to porridge and apple crumble. An exploration into strudel with blueberries, including self-made strudel dough, was also successful.
Sea kale is a pioneer plant growing on the shore. Its green leaves are edible, have a nice, crisp texture, with a taste similar to kale, fresh and slightly salty. However, the plant is strictly protected and should not be harvested by humans. Caterpillars may do so.
In his brilliant essay The Art of Mushroom Foraging Roope Kaaronen explores perceptional processes in connection with mushroom harvesting. Here, I learned about the Finnish term apaja – quoting Kaaronen:
“A forager does not generally enter a forest without prior experience and knowledge. We have a curious word in my native language, Finnish, for this: apaja. Apaja loosely translates into “area known to have plentiful catch,” entailing a higher prior probability for encounter. I know, among several others, of chanterelle apaja, bolete apaja, milk-cap apaja, and my personal favourites, yellowfoot and black trumpet apaja. Curiously, knowledge of an apaja, whilst socially transmitted, is often kept a guarded secret within an in-group. An unwritten rule applies: You do not talk about an apaja with strangers.”
“An apaja is generally understood as a physical and material space in the environment, as a location a forager enters. Upon closer inspection, though, this is not entirely accurate. An apaja is more akin to a predictive cognitive map, which is validated against the ecological information harvested from the directly perceivable environment. Specifically, an apaja is a prior expectation, a prediction, pertaining to the distribution of mushroom species in the environment.”
It seems to me that certain parallels exist in human behaviour, regarding the mushroom apaja of Finland and the job/security apaja of Austria: locals do not want to share it with strangers.
In Finland, foraging including fishing is granted and regulated via the Everyman’s Right. Details can be found at the website of the Ministry of Environment under
Read Kaaronen’s complete essay under
No bowl is an island
Even deep in the forest
Behold my hammer
I have found you and come to wake you up
From hundred years of sleep
Cast iron roughness cast away powerless violator
Let your spores rain all over
Spread ferns instead of death and war
Heavy iron hand holds good compost
And precious life
Lovely green fernbrake
Safe from destruction
I got a hammer
I got a bell
Full of ferns
In the middle of an island
I got a hammer
And a stone
I hammer out ferns
I ring the bracken bell
All night long
All over this island
Bowl, compost, roots, ferns and all, vibrate!
I strike the bowl bell
Composting the noise of crazy women
All over this island
All into the intestines of these rocks
Deep into dark tunnels of narrow minds
I ring out my warning
A bell meant to bring death
A bell used to practise killing
First you served soldiers ringing out death
Then you served nature ringing out compost
Now you serve my whims ringing out songs of dusk
Ringing all over
Ringing for art
Ringing for compost
Ringing for composers
Ringing for nature
Ringing for trees, for swans, for ferns
For mushrooms, for cows,
For countless bushels of sea kale on the shore now freezing into a cold sleep
And hungry caterpillars, too
Birds in the sky
Answer my call
join and sound your trumpets
Is it art? Is it music? Is it foolish?
“Moreover, I on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land to me.”
I dedicate this post to Henry David Thoreau, and his self-experiment about living in the forest in solitude for over two years. During my residency, I find his book Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854) most interesting to read. After a few weeks in the Finnish natural park, my experiences have brought me to strikingly similar insights, about my own process as a composer. Thoreau is probably the first self-made artistic researcher, because he analysed and described his own process, and published a book about his radical ‘artist residency’.
“I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself. As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me.”
By now, Örö island has turned into Terra Cognita for me – I have explored it in detail, I have bodily and mentally mapped its coastlines. I have become familiar with its landscape, forests, meadows, shores, mushrooms, berries, even with its intestines, the bunkers.
“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind…None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty. Of a life of luxury the fruit is luxury, whether in agriculture, or commerce, or literature, or art. There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but no philosophers.”
The food that I eat is good, adequate and healthy. It does not offer entertainment. I could not bring chocolate… it was simply not possible to transport things like that. I had to confine myself to the bare necessities – with the exception of good coffee from Hornig’s Viennese store. Thoreau also mentions that people asked what he would eat, whether he would feel lonesome, of whether he would be afraid. That sounds familiar to me. In this short discourse about art, I appreciate Thoreau’s cynicism and his radical arguments:
“…men have become the tools of their tools. The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper. We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven. We have adopted Christianity merely as an improved method of agri-culture. We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb. The best works of art are the expression of man’s struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten. There is actually no place in this village for a work of fine art, if any had come down to us, to stand, for our lives, our houses and streets, furnish no proper pedestal for it.… Before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects the walls must be stripped, and our lives must be stripped, and beautiful housekeeping and beautiful living be laid for a foundation: now, a taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors, where there is no house and no housekeeper.”
It seems that I’m in the process of stripping my life, my internal walls, in order to rebuild the foundations for… what kind of art, or music, or noise?
Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods, and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience is online available for free on www.gutenberg.org
Today is Sunday. Weekdays carry no meaning here. No shops, restaurants, churches, offices, nothing exists to mark the time. Nothing from outside has an influence how I plan my day, except maybe the weather and daylight. However, I open one of my two bottles of wine today. They were brought in by Marja’s guests from Helsinki, last weekend.
I work on my desk, writing, researching, and composing. I take extended excursions outside. When the light fits for filming, I take the good camera with me. The only important date for island life is the arrival and departure of Thursday’s ferry. Different ferries or boats are used, depending on what must be transported. If two or three people need a ride, a small boat is enough. A bigger ferry is used to bring in a new tractor for forest work or building material.
By now, all military people left the island. A few workers from Estonia arrived to renovate one of the nicer old houses. On the island, they use bicycles to cover the distance from their living quarters to the building site on the other shore. Örö is empty, nowadays. Other than the working men, the only company we have is a herd of Highland cattle, a peaceful and curious group grazing on the eastern shores. When food gets too scarce, later in fall, they will leave, taking the ferry, too.
Marja Salo, currently also here as resident, is a researcher at the Finnish Environment Institute, doctoral student at Helsinki University, and a sustainable consumption specialist. Together, we share a passion for foraging, for berries and mushrooms. We talk about safety. When telling friends of our plans to spend a month in a remote island, both of us had similar experiences – people asking us questions such as: Will you feel safe? Aren’t you afraid? What will you eat? If anyting happens, what will you do?
Personally, I felt afraid the first night I spent in Örö. Nights are quite dark here, in spite of the few ‘street lamps’ right in front of our door. When the sky is clear, stars are magnificent. The waxing moon shines brightly. But no wild and dangerous animals live in the forest, except some snakes and ticks in summer (as in Austria, in mountain areas). No wolves, no bears, not even a dog. No giant spiders nor rats. In fact, Örö is an utterly peaceful place. Also, I did not experience the soldiers as threatening presence. They all behaved in a polite and friendly way, as well mannered people.
Speaking of security and fear: there are numerous bunkers and fortifications on this island, smaller ones where only one person can fit in, and big underground edifices that can accommodate dozens of people. Most of them are open all year round, their doors stay unlocked. Tourists are invited to explore them at will. Only a general warning sign asks visitors to be aware of falling and take care of one’s steps. I do feel quite uncomfortable, rather unsafe, when entering these dark, narrow spaces. The muffled sounds of my steps reverberating from close walls. Again, the question is: what am I afraid of? With my headlamp on, I entered, taking videos. Please follow me inside…
The largest bunker can only be accessed through a narrow, crumbled concrete entrance. With the visitors from Helsinki, I dared to set foot into the tunnel. The bunker is hewn into rock, three stories deep. From a maze of tunnels, a narrow iron stair leads down into an abyss of darkness. Inside, the space widens into a set of several larger rooms. They look as though they had been abandoned decades ago and left in their original state, to crumble and decay.
It is raining a lot. Lichens grow and expand everywhere, covering trees, rocks, the ground. The world looks fuzzy and contours lack definition.
I decided to occupy the historic mess hall (now hosting a small exhibition) at the southwestern end of Örö. The acoustics are good, the house is made of wood except for the foundations. Inside, it is dry and quite a bit warmer than outside, still, although the door does not close properly. I like the smell of the old wooden floor, blackened with tar; it is a smell that recalls pleasant childhood memories. The room is spacious.
It has three huge stoves (not working) and a mural from the 1930-ies. This photo from Örön Linnake (2008), Johanna Pakola’s comprehensive investigation into the history of the island, shows the hall in its former function.
Since nobody else is there now, and the door stands open, I have turned the hall into a studio space – as long as temperatures will allow. I walk through coastal woods with my instrument and gear, thinking: let’s make experimental music for the soldiers of the past who look down on me from the photographs pinned to the walls (the accordionist is here, too). Last Tuesday, I recorded three pieces. Lichens worlds, and my sense of defiance towards military thinking played a certain role in the making of this performance. In the background, the constant noise of the sea is faintly audible. The hall stands near the shore.
Yesterday, I came across this wonderful passage in a book I currently read: Siri Hustvedt’s Living, Thinking, Looking (2012, Hodder&Stoughton, London) – some of her books are also available in German translation. Indeed, I took her book to the island with me, in print format. Within the context of experiencing a loss in perspective for my work, on this island, I find these sentences interesting:
“A willigness to lose perspective means an openness to others who are guided by a set of unfamiliar propositions. It means entertaining a confounding, even frightening and radical intersubjectivity. It also means that however happy you are among the few residents of your particular island, that little island is not the whole world.”
From afar, I wave at the Wien Modern audience. I miss you.
Since the beginning of my residency period at Örö, I have been looking for locations and places that might be interesting for (musical) performances. During the first days of November, I experimented in the woods near our house, the old school building. At that time, much military personnel was stationed in Örö, because of the Nato exercise Trident Junction that took place across the Baltic region.
This picture was taken on November 4th. I had just set up my instrument and began to play, when two Finnish soldiers with machine guns in hands came marching along the pathway, noticed me, turned and curiously approached, to watch! They acted friendly, even tried to talk to me, yet I found I’m not really used to performing with machine guns that close nearby – yet. The instrument soon gave up, because of the weather conditions; it is too cold, too windy, and too damp to perform outside.
Several buildings in Örö are unlocked and open to the public, even in this time of the year. One of them is a former mess hall near the west coast; here, a collection of historic photographs is on exhibition. One of the photos shows a very young accordion player in uniform in the middle of a large group of soldiers. Among the many historic photographs about Örö fortress I have seen so far, in books or on display, only this one shows a musical instrument. I would like to know more about the anonymous musician. Who was he? Without question, he holds a prominent position in this assembly and looks at rest with his instrument.
The numerous military structures and buildings all over the island emanate a harsh, functional, brutal background noise. They resonate a mode of thinking that is geared towards power, warfare, control, and force – in the name of (national) safety and protection. Current activities around the anniversary of the end of WWI come to my mind. Nowadays, much is being done to ensure a friendly and positive image of the military. For example, see the official reports on Trident Junction on twitter under
Other than the military, there is wilderness. Nature’s stern rule governs island life. I spend much time outside, exposed to wind, coldness, moisture and rain, listening to the roar of the sea and the woods. Walking over sand, moss, and rocks, I find myself touched – and changed. After long periods of darkness and clouded skies, I enjoy brief moments of brilliant sunshine. I take delight in simple and small things: gnarled trees, graceful waves, tiny flowers, a handful of edible mushrooms, remarkable rocks, a few birds or the squirrel we saw from the kitchen window.
It appears that music is the most endangered species on this island. Is it a question of protecting my artistic process? Does music need protection and safety, within a martial and harsh environment and culture? What is it that music needs to live and unfold?
Personally, I notice how the pervasive presence of military culture as found in Örö Linnake interrupts my artistic drive and my compositional activity. I notice how I strive to work against, around it, in between.
All over the island, sturdy and foldable metal racks – Finn. mattoteline – are installed near living quarters or holiday homes, for hanging carpets or laundry. They serve multiple functions. This mattoteline stands near the sauna and a group of holiday cottages. I am attracted to their sound: a multipurpose outdoor version of tubular bells. I use crude wooden beaters that I found nearby; handling the pieces of wood, I aim at simple sonic structures. For recording this performance, I once more use the AKG contact mic. Listening inside… outside weather: around 7° and a stiff breeze. As it turned out, the wind had shifted around my iphone on its stand, during the visual recording.