Episode 5 The Culture Show


Episode 5

Andrew Graham-Dixon presents from the 2011 Manchester International Festival featuring new plays by Victoria Wood and Johnny Vegas, and music from Bjork and Damon Albarn.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to The Culture Show, coming to you from the 2011

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Manchester International Festival, the biennial event committed to

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premiering world-class new work across the city and across the arts.

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Coming up: Victoria Wood on choirs and overweight insurance men in her

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new show That Day We Sang, Damon Albarn's latest creative odyssey

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culminates in Doctor Dee: An English Opera. The self-stifled

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godmother of performance art Marina Abramovic presents the story of her

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own life with a little help from Willem Dafoe and Anthony Hegarty.

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30 years after its release, Rickie Lee Jones tells us how she feels

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about returning to her breakthrough album Pirates for a special

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performance at The Bridgewater Hall. Plus, Alastair Sooke experiences 11

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rooms of art and Ben Lewis takes a tour of the outdoor artworks,

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Manchester's new mical -- musical Wu Lyf breaks the myth about their

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mistaoeubgs. First, a show about how the power of music can revive

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your love of life, played out against a backdrop of Wimpey Bars

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and Piccadilly Gardens, That Day We Sang is the work of Victoria Wood,

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inspired by events in 1929 when the Manchester Children's Choir

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recorded their celebrated version of Nymphs and Shepherds. Singing

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guru Carrie Grant has been speaking to Wood and the new Children's

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Choir she's created especially for the event.

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In 1929 the Manchester Children's Choir released a record that would

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change the lives of those involved, offering hope in the midst of

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depression. MUSIC

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in 1979, the BBC broadcast a documentary that brought the now

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middle-aged members of the choir together again. And a Young Vic are

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toia wood -- Victoria Wood happened to be watching.

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The seed of a story stayed with her and over 30 years later the

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nation's favourite musical comedian has written a play with songs based

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# I want to make you proud # I want my song

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# To let you see who I can be # When I belong. Writing it, did it

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just flow? It didn't exactly flow. The problem I had with it was that

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I had to write the strapline for the poster before we wrote the play.

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So I was sort of stuck. I had the boy on the poster, so I had to have

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a boy running in the play. How does it feel for you to be writing and

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directing, but not appearing? great. I am delighted. It's a

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complicated thing to put together because it's got an orchestra, a

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choir, a child star who can only work every 20 minutes every fifth

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Tuesday, it seems to me. We have an adult cast. We have filmed bits,

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it's a complicated show to put # We would glide by as if we're

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tied by a thread # We would have an amorous and

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glamorous affair... The power of singing is immense.

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It's fantastic. The power of music is immense, the power of music to

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move you and evoke emotion in you and that's what the story is about,

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it's about somebody hearing themselves sing and thinking I

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could have a different life. I don't need to live like this, coy

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have more e-- I could have more emotions in my life than I have.

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Sorry, did you say you sang or didn't sing, I got distracted?

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sing?. No. Do you sing? No, I never sing. I never sing. I don't think I

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ever did sing. Was that me? Did I sing? Did my voice once soar?

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Am I still that boy? For the original Nymphs and

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Shepherds, whose childhood recording sold a million copies and

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entered local legend, the power of singing has sustained. From the

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mid-1920s the Manchester Children's Choir united 250 children from

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disparate local communities in song. Florence was one of the original

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school children who sang in the choir's pioneering concerts and

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recording at the Free Trade Hall. Nymphs and Shepherds... That's it,

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that's the one they sang mostly, because it was going to be recorded

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so we had to be sure about it. never thought it would be anything

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big, just thought go along with it, yes all right. And lo and behold,

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it's grown and grown. It was the highlight of our lives. I was a

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quiet person, but after a period in that I seemed to get more

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confidence in myself. Imagine the shepherds are over there and the

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nymphs are there. OK. Now Victoria Wood's new play has

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brought children from several local schools together to sing as a choir,

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like in 1929. These kids perform as the original

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choir and breathe new life into Purcell's Nymphs and Shepherds on

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stage. That's beautiful, well done.

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How do you feel about thinking that 80 years later you are now the next

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set of children that are going to sing? I am actually excited that I

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am going to be singing such an old song, that's the first time I ever

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heard that song. Do either of you want to be singers or actors?

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might want to be an actor, singer, but I don't know yet.

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That Day We Sang isn't simply a re- enactment of the 1929 choir moment,

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the play with songs takes the story further, fastforwarding to 1979

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when nymph Enid and shepherd Tubby who wanted so much to sing as

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children meet again in middle-age. Why isn't it just a play? It's

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about music, it's about singing, whether you do or don't sing and in

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my play the singing expresses the things they can't say. They can

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talk about decimalisation but sing about love. Why can't they just

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call it a new shilling? Because then they wouldn't really have

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changed anything. It has to be something to be divided by 100 to

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be decimal. I think people are going to be very cross. # Middle-

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aged, buttoned up # It's safer to ignore

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# Who we were # When we sang before

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you often use middle-aged characters in your work. Guess why!

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Because I'm middle-aged. That's why. Truly? I used to write about girls,

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and now I am writing about people in their 50s, because I understand

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it. It's often in that middle age where we have the opportunity given

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to us to make a massive change for some reason. Yes, I think in 1969

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when the play is set 50 was probably perceived as older now.

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Nobody wants to be old now, people would not think of themselves as

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old, but then I think people perhaps expected that the exciting

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part of their life, their romantic part of their life was finished, so

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this is somebody saying, either of them, have never had a romance in

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their life and they're going to have it now.

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# If life were movies, we would know all the words

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I just want them to have a fantastic night and feel that

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something's happened, that they've been entertained. That's all I am

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ever trying to do, to 10.00, that's when the kids have to get back on

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the coach so we have to stop then. That Day We Sang continues at the

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opera House until the end of the Festival on Sunday. Next, musician

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Damon Albarn likes a challenge. He has enjoyed chart domination with

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blur and huge popular success with Gorillaz but he's also been a

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committed contributor to every Manchester International Festival,

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kicking off with the hit Chinese opera Monkey, creating music with

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Punchdrunk and Adam Kurtis and now working with Rufus Norris on Dr Dee,

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it's been marketed a -- as an English opera but Albarn muse it is

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might be better described as a melancholy. Michael Smith has been

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finding out more. History is full of forgotten men.

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Brilliant, strange, complex men whose influence has reasonated

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through our culture in ways that may have have become obscured.

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One such man was the Elizabethan thinker and occultist Dr John Dee.

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John Dee is a shadowy obscure figure at the heart of the English

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rennaissance. Elizabeth I called him her philosopher and he was the

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inspiration for Shakespeare's Prospero and Marlowe's Faust. A

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crypt owe graphier -- cryptographer whose codename was 007. He's the

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man who came up with the idea of a British empire, the idea that

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England could become a maritime power. He lived in an age where the

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line between science and sorcery was blurred. Mathematics, like

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magic was still considered to be an uncanny art, the work of the devil.

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Dee plummed the mysteries of both. I never found any man living nor

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any book I could yet meet with all, was able to teach me those truths I

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desired and longed for, he wrote. Instead, Dee searched for these

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truths through supernational communication with angels. --

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supernatural. This was a step too far, even for the Queen's

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philosopher. His reputation tarnished he fell out of favour

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with the Royal court. In 1596 Dee was made the warden of what is now

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Manchester cathedral and he lived here in Cheetham library, the

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oldest public library in Britain. It was somewhere he was free to

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continue his occult research and tongues wagged that he was

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conjuring up the devil. The legend has grown up that this burn mark

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here was caused by the devil's hoof. Dee supposedly summoned him up one

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dark night. The life of John Dee provided the

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in-- proved the inspiration for Damon Albarn's latest opera showing

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I caught up with Albarn between performances and asked what

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attracted him to the character of John Dee. I have always been

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fascinated with history, it was one of the few things that I kind of -

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history and music were the things at school that I was interested in.

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OK. It's everything about him was elegant and I am a great fan.

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you see a lot of threads between that Dee's time and our time like

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was there a reasonance? The two Elizabeths was an easy starting

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point for that. I am sort of an Englishman alive in the last embers

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of the fire and he was an Englishman who kind of... Stoked

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it? Stoked the fire, exactly. melancholy score features the BBC

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Philharmonic Orchestra and a mixture of African and English

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musicians, including Fela Kuti's legendary drummer and frequent

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Albarn collaborater Tony Allen. I got a real sense watching the opera

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that there's disparate things like African instruments and medieval

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English things that could not easily have gelled. It really felt

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they were tapping into some kind of force, if you like. Yeah, a force

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that, you know, if you talk about intangible things like vibrations,

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stuff you can't see or hear necessarily, I think absolutely.

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They come from a same place and they all come from a very sort of

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different sound world, you know. I mean, all those instruments sound

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amazing together with no amplification. It's really nice

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just to sort of leave the amplified world, although I couldn't leave my

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microphone. Why did you put yourself in the opera, why did you

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want to star in it? I never wanted to star in that, that's more a

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marketing - I never really comfortable with that. It's been an

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amazingly corroborative process and -- collaborative process and I was

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singing some of the stuff myself and it's like I really love this. I

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am completely comfortable being in this world and in a way it's kind

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of - it's an opportunity to say something about England, which

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there's no other frame I can imagine that I would be able to say

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# The sun out of the valley # Comes the song of our aaccord...

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I find something strangely moving about John Dee. I think it's

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because he embodies an esoteric current that runs through English

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culture. It's in the myths of king Arthur of stone hedge. It's

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something that our artists channeled. It's in the words of

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Sheikh or the pibtuers of Blake. More recently it's in the songs of

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Syd Barrett or Nick drake. A strange sense of the magical that

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Doctor Dee will form part of next year year's Cultural Olympiad

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playing at the London Colisseum. Now, one major contributor it this

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year's festival programme has been known to remain silent for hundreds

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of hours at a time, to lie naked on a cross of ice, even to slash her

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own skin with a razor blade, Marina Abramovic is nothing, if not

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committed. Her work forms part of the group show, 11 Rooms. He is

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presenting her own story, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

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produced and directed by Robert Wilson, starring Willme Defoe and

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by music by Antony Hegarty. I went along to take a look. -- One famous

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early performance dared the audience to utilise an array of

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objects including noose knives and a gun as she stood passive in front

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of them. Last year she sat opposite members of the public every day for

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three months in one of the longest pieces of performance art on record,

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attracting over half a million visitors. Her offering at this year

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marks a first in the career of the now 65-year-old artist. In Marina

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Abramovic has always been careful to retain absolute control, here

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she's done the opposite. She's given the director, Robert Wilson,

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her life in the form of notebooks, memoirs, confessions and say, make

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of it what you will. Stage me. In a rate me. Tell the story of my life

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as you see. It it's an eccentric theatrical experiment in the

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surrender of control. Having fun. We are going to talk about dying,

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apparently? Lovely moving for to die. The Genesis of the project

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came from Abramovic's wish that Wilson would design her funeral

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while Antony Hegarty would provide the music. Though it begins and

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ends with a funeral ceremony, the play also takes a surreal episodic

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journey through her life, especially her early years in post-

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war Yugoslavia. What I call this piece is, Robert Wilson's The Life

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and Death of Marina Abramovic, it's his vision. He has freedom to

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recycle as he wants. I don't have any control of. It that not having

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control is the most liberating feeling I have for a long time. I

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have complete control about my own work. I didn't want to have any

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control about my life. There is so many different things, like, you

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know the me is played by the Carlos, Carlos is this man who is quite

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small size with moustache, I can't believe he cast me, I said, "who is

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this" he said, "this is Carlos, this is you" I said,, "who am I

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going to be?" He said, "you are mother of course" that is a crazy

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twist. I had a problem with my mother all my life. I play myself

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and then it's all mixed up. There are so many Marina's on the stage.

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Robert Wilson is regarded as a visionary in the theatre world. He

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has previously collaborated with Tom Waits and Philip Glass. You

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have taken a performance artist. She delivered you her life. You

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have turned it back into a work of art which you formalised using a

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lot of devices drawn from the language of art That's true. I

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didn't want to take her life and just illustrate it. We know what

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she has done as a performing artist. For me to reproduce that on stage

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stage would be totally wrong, I think. First of all, performance

:20:47.:20:57.
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artist is different that theatre. - than theatre.

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# Why must you suffer? # It's a collision of very strange

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personalities. Willem Dafoe is more psychological, naturalistic actor,

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I'm trying to formalise him. When I think of Marina's life, this dark

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stories about how terrible her mother was, and how terrible her

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life was a -- as a little girl. You hear this ethereal voice of Antony.

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Watching rehearsals I was really struck by how Robert looks at the

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stage as much as an artist and as a lighting designer and as he does a

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theatrical producer? One of the things I've always loved about his

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work, he's a sculptor. He plays with light and he bends time. His

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instruction to sometimes to me is, make it less natural. I share his

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sensibility that way. The theatre is the theatre. It's a heightened

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language. I'm a little bit of the opinion of, you yeah, you wanna see

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life, go to the diner. Tell me about your role, your role seems

:22:40.:22:50.
:22:50.:22:51.

very important? I'm part of the glue, I'm part of the structure.

:22:51.:23:01.
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1972, she stops using -- she starts using her body as material. Pushing

:23:01.:23:08.

her body to its physical and mental limits. Part in a rator, part

:23:08.:23:18.
:23:18.:23:23.

chorus? Yeah. I'm like the old stinky actor element in the art

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world. With this play marking her furthest move yet away from

:23:29.:23:33.

traditional perance art, has Abramovic left her old radicalism

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behind? You used to say that you hated the theatre. So how come this

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is all right? I always like to do things I'm afraid and I don't know.

:23:46.:23:50.

You go to another dimension and you learn so much about doing it. It's

:23:50.:23:55.

so easy to do things you like, you never change, but when you don't

:23:55.:23:58.

like, that's the really interesting, to give up control that's a really

:23:58.:24:02.

liberating experience. In that way, your life always looks new to you.

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It's a good trick. The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic continues

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at the Lowry until Saturday. There will be more on 11 Rooms later in

:24:16.:24:21.

the show. Manchester is a hive of cultural activity at the moment.

:24:21.:24:23.

The success of the third international festival is another

:24:23.:24:32.

sign of it. The other is the BBC's new home, media city. Sefton

:24:32.:24:42.
:24:42.:24:45.

Samuals has been documenting changes and his collected works

:24:45.:24:50.

have just been published in a new book, Northerners. What does it

:24:50.:24:56.

mean nowadays to be a northerner? What makes a Mancunian from

:24:56.:25:00.

Manchester in anyway distinct? It's all used to be so straight-forward.

:25:00.:25:08.

Growing up in Manchester in the '80s and '90s you were part of a

:25:09.:25:15.

tribe. After living down in London for years, I myself have become the

:25:15.:25:19.

softest ever southerners and barely recognise the city I grew up in.

:25:19.:25:24.

Challenge me nowadays to put my finger on what makes northerners so

:25:24.:25:28.

northern and I haven't really got a clue. I have come back to

:25:28.:25:35.

Manchester on the hunt to find the essence of northernness. This is me

:25:35.:25:39.

and my dad, Sefton Samuals. He is a famous photographer with pictures

:25:39.:25:46.

held at the National Portrait Gallery and V apbld A. If anyone

:25:46.:25:50.

can help me define what it is to be a northerner, it's him. Sefton has

:25:50.:25:53.

spent five decades photographing Manchester, the north of England,

:25:54.:26:02.

and its people. In black-and-white, he captured their approachability.

:26:03.:26:07.

Their sense of humour, their straight-talking swagger. I was

:26:07.:26:14.

always struck by the soul of something he captured. I spent the

:26:14.:26:18.

last decade asking him to bring together the collection of his

:26:18.:26:25.

northern photographs as a book, which is being published as

:26:25.:26:29.

Northerners, portrait of a no nonsense people. I am used to being

:26:29.:26:34.

around your photographs, I haven't asked you about the ethos behind

:26:34.:26:39.

them. No nonsense, that does that reflect your artistic style? Yes,

:26:39.:26:44.

it does. I try to take pictures of life. Straight-forward depictions

:26:44.:26:50.

of life. I'm happy for a photograph to look like a photograph. I don't

:26:50.:26:55.

want it to look like an artistic painting. I don't go in for

:26:55.:27:01.

pictures that are setup. I think they look very false anyway. I try

:27:01.:27:11.

to be a, sort of, hidden observer of life. Sefton strategy has won

:27:11.:27:20.

him the trust of some awkward characters. Sam's Chop house is

:27:20.:27:30.
:27:30.:27:31.

where Lowry once popped up the bar. Rare pictures, thanks to to a

:27:31.:27:36.

concerted charm offensive on Lowry's house keeper. We found we

:27:36.:27:40.

had something in common. We had worked in a mill in her younger

:27:40.:27:44.

days. She said, "I will drop you a line as soon as I know when he's

:27:44.:27:49.

coming in. Give him a couple of days to settle in. Don't mention my

:27:49.:27:55.

name, whatever you do". So, I said, "fine", she was as good as her

:27:55.:28:02.

thwart. It was the foot in the door my dad needed to get his pictures

:28:02.:28:08.

of Lowry. He said himself, "the best portraits I've ever had lad,

:28:08.:28:18.
:28:18.:28:20.

lad". That's me aged 13 with my teenage hero Morrissey in 1989. I

:28:20.:28:24.

tackled him outside his Manchester home to see if he would do an

:28:24.:28:29.

interview for my school newspaper. To my utter astonishment he agreed.

:28:29.:28:35.

My dad took the snaps. Maybe I had inherited some of that dogged

:28:35.:28:39.

determination that had seen him track down some of the North's most

:28:39.:28:48.

famous faces. One of the most widely used set of photo that is

:28:48.:28:53.

Sefton took needed almost no struggle for access. Footballer

:28:53.:29:00.

George Best used to run a Men's Wear shop on Bridge Street. He was

:29:00.:29:06.

leaning against the door post. Enjoying the spring sunshine. I was

:29:06.:29:11.

walking back from lunch, I spotted him. I came over and said, "would

:29:11.:29:17.

you mind if I took a few pictures, gorpbl?" He was obliging and

:29:17.:29:23.

relaxed and said, "that's fine". It was only a few moments. I didn't

:29:23.:29:26.

realise then I'd get such significant pictures. These would

:29:26.:29:36.
:29:36.:29:38.

end up in the National Portrait Gallery, Paul Weller's covers. Who

:29:38.:29:44.

is the equivalent to George Best. Rooney. You would never get near.

:29:44.:29:49.

Mirroring the change in football, it's a parallel that goes from

:29:49.:29:55.

being George's boutique to now a big chain here? From a star to

:29:55.:30:03.

Starbucks. Have you rehearsed that Everything in Sefton's photos

:30:03.:30:07.

appears older than it really is. The 60s' images feel almost

:30:07.:30:11.

Victorian. But I think they reflected a

:30:11.:30:21.

tendency the north itself once had to look a decade or so out of date.

:30:21.:30:26.

Come on, quickly please! It would take an act of violence to shake

:30:26.:30:32.

off Manchester's timelag. The 1996 IRA bomb in the heart of

:30:32.:30:37.

Manchester shook the city to the core.

:30:37.:30:45.

From the pull srerised shopping precinct sprang a determination to

:30:45.:30:51.

renew and re-invent. The torrent of regeneration with Salford the

:30:51.:30:54.

harvest, the back streets documented by Sefton, the character

:30:54.:30:59.

which inspired the birth of Coronation Street, swept away for a

:31:00.:31:04.

shiny future. Back then when you were taking

:31:04.:31:07.

these photographs of Salford how would you have felt to show

:31:07.:31:10.

Manchester is going to have an International scan festival and

:31:10.:31:15.

Imperial War Museum, the BBC is moving here? I wouldn't have

:31:15.:31:20.

believed it. It's so totally unrecognisable today. It changes so

:31:21.:31:26.

rapidly that sometimes I have a job to find my way around.

:31:26.:31:32.

Sefton's north is the north of Joy Division, coronation street and the

:31:32.:31:36.

Smiths. I wonder if that north is gone forever now, and whether it's

:31:36.:31:40.

still clinging on? For all the changes afoot here,

:31:41.:31:46.

coming back does seem there's still a distinct culture, a way of

:31:46.:31:49.

viewing the world up north. For me the essence of being northern is

:31:49.:31:53.

best bottled by the photographs I grew up around. Frankly, it would

:31:53.:31:58.

be impertinent to argue with something your dad has spent five

:31:58.:32:01.

decades defining. Northerners was published last week.

:32:01.:32:05.

Next, for over 30 years Rickie Lee Jones has been a musician who's

:32:06.:32:09.

defied classification and she was at the Festival to give a rare UK

:32:09.:32:15.

performance of her classic album Pirates At The Bridgewater Hall on

:32:15.:32:20.

Sunday. We sent Clemency Burton Hill along to meet her.

:32:20.:32:26.

Aged 14 she ran away from home and hitchHicked around California. Aged

:32:26.:32:31.

21, she had major major record labels vying for her signature. Not

:32:31.:32:36.

long after she was on the front cover of Rolling Stone and won her

:32:36.:32:44.

first Grammy. She might be best known for her single Chucky in Love.

:32:45.:32:48.

But it's Pirates fans still Cherish the most.

:32:48.:32:54.

Pirates was released in 1981 and is considered the definetive sound of

:32:55.:33:02.

Rickie Lee Jones. It's eccentric, witty and a bit soulful. But 30

:33:02.:33:06.

years on, do these youthful songs of love and lust still pack a

:33:07.:33:11.

punch? Do you have any inkling this would be a record that would stand

:33:11.:33:20.

the test of the time in the way it has? Yes. Yes. Why do you think

:33:20.:33:24.

it's such a special album? Why do you think it still speaks to us

:33:24.:33:29.

all? There's no song I do that I don't love and inhabit totally. If

:33:29.:33:33.

people love this record so much, let's do the whole thing. There are

:33:34.:33:39.

pieces I haven't done in 28 years, they're fun, they're hard and you

:33:39.:33:49.
:33:49.:33:54.

do something that's hard it makes # I say this is no game of chicken

:33:54.:33:57.

# You are aiming at your best friend

:33:57.:34:05.

# You wear that like a chain around your neck

:34:05.:34:15.
:34:15.:34:16.

# Like the one you got from your # One more way, you can't play this

:34:16.:34:18.

scene twice. You mentioned that each album for

:34:18.:34:21.

you is like a movie of your life at the time that you were making it.

:34:21.:34:26.

Yes. How is it to revisit that former self? When I did the Pirates

:34:26.:34:35.

tour it was a pretty wild tour. People who had been sober, just

:34:35.:34:40.

fall off the sober wagon tour. It ended up in disarray. I don't any

:34:40.:34:44.

more, but I always had a drink before I went on stage. I think the

:34:44.:34:49.

stage fright became really intense for me and I started bringing a

:34:49.:34:54.

glass on stage. Then one day I just brought the bottle on stage. They

:34:54.:34:59.

took a picture and put it in the LA Times. Almost the whole page.

:34:59.:35:06.

Suddenly I became associated with this thing that's been difficult to

:35:06.:35:10.

shed, you know. Are you the same? Are you the same Rickie Lee Jones

:35:10.:35:18.

now as you were then? When I first did Pirates a year ago at the Pier

:35:18.:35:26.

in LA it was a really big crowd. I stepped on stage, in my leather

:35:27.:35:32.

jacket, and she was waiting just as she had always been there, the

:35:32.:35:37.

Rickie Lee of the Pirates time, I was ready to... I wasn't aggressive

:35:37.:35:42.

but I felt her there, you know. you have to reinhabit her? I didn't

:35:42.:35:46.

do it on purpose. You know, I didn't expect anything like - I

:35:46.:35:52.

just said I am going to do Pirates but this other living persona is

:35:52.:35:58.

part of that music. It's incredible, you know. When you were very young,

:35:58.:36:01.

in your early 20s, you got famous very quickly. What was that like?

:36:01.:36:06.

It's like being in a tidal wave, yeah, so, of course the tidal wave

:36:06.:36:13.

is a shock, but it was also something I always hoped to have.

:36:13.:36:18.

It was pretty wonderful, it was really difficult, but it's hard to

:36:18.:36:28.
:36:28.:36:32.

say because life wasn't that easy # Chuck E's in love

:36:32.:36:40.

#. Are there any big female artists working today who you really admire,

:36:40.:36:46.

who you think are doing good work? No. Not a one? There are single

:36:46.:36:52.

songs I like or single performances, but maybe that thing of being

:36:52.:36:57.

captivated is an age thing, you know, because it's part - being a

:36:57.:37:01.

part of your peers, and it doesn't happen so much when you get older.

:37:01.:37:05.

You are captivated by your children or the thing, you know, the person

:37:05.:37:09.

you love. Because you do spend so much time on tour and you are

:37:09.:37:12.

performing all the time, do you still feel now that you still need

:37:12.:37:16.

to be performing, that you need to be playing live to an audience?

:37:16.:37:26.
:37:26.:37:42.

I like to write, but there's nothing like performing and I am

:37:42.:37:46.

blessed. There's something that happens in the magic of performance

:37:46.:37:54.

that can't happen anywhere else. People come ready to have that

:37:54.:37:58.

experience. To me it's it's closest thing to a true Church. Are you a

:37:58.:38:06.

pirate? Yeah, yeah, in that I liked having a crew and in a way because

:38:06.:38:16.
:38:16.:38:42.

In its short history this Festival's developed a reputation

:38:42.:38:44.

for commissioning some extraordinary live art and this

:38:44.:38:49.

year's no exception. Alastair Sooke went to experience some of the

:38:49.:38:59.
:38:59.:39:08.

encounters on offer in 11 Rooms at Behind the stiff neo classical

:39:08.:39:12.

fasade something daring is under way. The doors are about to open on

:39:12.:39:22.
:39:22.:39:24.

a show existing exclusively of So, this is the dress rehearsal. I

:39:24.:39:28.

have myself a plan. The first artist I wanted to show you was

:39:28.:39:36.

someone called Joan Jonas, a pioneering firm firm -- feminist

:39:36.:39:42.

performance artist. In this piece - - in this room, you can see please

:39:42.:39:48.

be aaware this room contains nudity. Don't worry, ever the intrepid

:39:48.:39:56.

reporter, I will just take a look. I think we should move on.

:39:56.:40:02.

But that does look like a very interesting voyeuristic strange

:40:02.:40:06.

piece about desire. There's another piece I want to see. It's confusing

:40:06.:40:10.

actually, I feel like I am in a school corridor or something. There

:40:10.:40:20.
:40:20.:40:26.

are two artists, they have been a big hit in Venezuela. Their work

:40:26.:40:30.

often contains an element of absurd humour, I vent to Venice and I saw

:40:30.:40:34.

outside the pavilion they had overturned an enormous tank and

:40:34.:40:38.

they had an athlete running on top of a treadmill making one of the

:40:38.:40:42.

tracks go around. The tank was a British tank. I am not sure about

:40:42.:40:45.

what that says about the special special relationship between

:40:45.:40:51.

America and Britain. In here is a piece called Revolving Door.

:40:51.:41:01.
:41:01.:41:31.

Oh, that's a bit sudden. I think I am going to see you on

:41:31.:41:41.
:41:41.:41:58.

the other side of that. This is really quite unsettling and

:41:58.:42:07.

class troe phobic -- claustrophobic. To begin with they're really slow

:42:07.:42:10.

and there's a rapid increase like that, which makes you want to move

:42:10.:42:14.

out of the way rapidly. I guess that's a piece all about

:42:14.:42:17.

the relationship of the individual to the masses, to the crowd,

:42:17.:42:21.

because suddenly you feel like you are an autonomous agent going in

:42:21.:42:26.

there and you are not any more and you are forced to move in different

:42:26.:42:32.

ways. It's kind of funny. The expressions the whole time are

:42:32.:42:39.

deadpan, to be honest I felt unsettled. You can probably tell. I

:42:39.:42:44.

went in thinking I was going to explain the piece and I was like,

:42:44.:42:50.

oh my God, I better move this way. I am going to digest that. It's

:42:50.:42:55.

kind of military, as well. In the meantime, let's look in here. This

:42:55.:43:05.
:43:05.:43:06.

is a piece by Simon Fujiwara. He is not a part of the piece normally.

:43:06.:43:11.

You see a clock. It's called Playing The Martyr. There is an

:43:11.:43:18.

enormous bed. The price is there's someone in it.

:43:18.:43:28.
:43:28.:43:31.

-- surprise is there's someone in I don't know if you can see, the

:43:31.:43:36.

title of the book is The Lives of St Simon. A half naked bloke

:43:36.:43:46.
:43:46.:43:48.

reading a book in a big enormous pha hog -- mahogany bed. Do you

:43:48.:43:58.
:43:58.:44:08.

I quite want to know what's in the book.

:44:08.:44:18.
:44:18.:44:28.

Maybe we have to come back later What I love about this place is you

:44:28.:44:32.

go into these rooms, these different rooms, and as happened

:44:32.:44:36.

there, you are suddenly phrupb pblged -- plunged into a totally

:44:36.:44:40.

reality. A guy in asleep in an enormous bed, there is a -- there

:44:40.:44:47.

is a clock and he has a book about St Simon, who is Simon? He seemed

:44:47.:44:51.

to be asleep, there was a hushed silence. You feel like you don't

:44:51.:44:54.

want to break the spell, you are suddenly taken into a very

:44:54.:44:58.

different place. Not sure what I make of that one,

:44:58.:45:07.

it's all baffling. Over here, though, this is a piece by a

:45:07.:45:17.
:45:17.:45:22.

Spanish artist called Santiago Sierra. I guess if we take it at

:45:22.:45:27.

face value, we are going to see a man who is presumably a veteran of

:45:27.:45:30.

one of these wars, who almost as if he is being punished for something

:45:30.:45:36.

is standing in the corner facing the corner, is he whispering, is he

:45:36.:45:46.

No, he looks very somber, as if he's really done something quite

:45:46.:45:51.

bad. I guess that's the point of the air that you are made to

:45:51.:45:56.

reflect upon what he might have done, is he atoning for something

:45:56.:46:00.

for some act he might have transgressed in Afghanistan, or

:46:00.:46:05.

Iraq or Northern Ireland. That is an unsettling thought. It summon as

:46:05.:46:11.

whole sense of enormity and violence in an otherwise quite

:46:11.:46:16.

sterile usual gallery experience of just a white cube. It's quite

:46:16.:46:25.

powerful thing. I have a theory, I think that performance art is

:46:25.:46:30.

having a big moment now because it's the perfect art form for these

:46:30.:46:35.

economic times. Usually, the art market trns art into a commodity a

:46:35.:46:41.

product. The artists featured in 11 Rooms aren't interested in that.

:46:41.:46:45.

You can hardly buy any of the work that I've seen today and easily

:46:45.:46:52.

nail it to your wall. I really respect that. 11 Rooms continues

:46:52.:46:58.

until Sunday. Now, for some music that stops traffic. On Saturday,

:46:58.:47:01.

local band, Wu Lyf, that is short for World Unite! Lucifer Youth

:47:01.:47:10.

Foundation, will be playing perform bsh performing to an AUDIENCE:Ience

:47:10.:47:14.

of 2,000 people in the road tunnel on Great Bridgewater Street. They

:47:14.:47:20.

told us about their disregard for Manchester's musical legacy as well

:47:20.:47:26.

as their desire to break the mystique surrounding the band.

:47:26.:47:31.

There is hype we could have monopolised done every gig. We

:47:31.:47:35.

didn't want to do the hard sell. Treat it as a fresh new taste. Get

:47:35.:47:41.

it while it's hot. We got a reputation as the mysterious Wu Lyf.

:47:41.:47:47.

Which, I don't know, we all found a little, kind of, boring and a bit

:47:47.:47:55.

cheesy. The internet has moved everything on to a completely

:47:55.:48:02.

global scale. It's the easest free exhibition space. It's like a big

:48:02.:48:08.

blank wall that people can graffiti all over. You can record music for

:48:08.:48:12.

very cheap. You can make your own art work. You can build your

:48:12.:48:22.
:48:22.:48:37.

website, which we just did # Spitting blood #

:48:37.:48:41.

I don't think Manchester's past really holds much relevance to what

:48:41.:48:45.

we are doing, maybe obl only in the fact that we dapbt to do things our

:48:45.:48:51.

own way. That is just a Manchester thing. We take more inspiration

:48:51.:48:58.

from SS it in America than we do factory records. I dapbt want to

:48:58.:49:02.

make cheap little digs. Obviously, it means a lot to a lot of people,

:49:02.:49:12.
:49:12.:49:12.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 45 seconds

:49:12.:49:57.

just for us personally, it's not Three records, done one, two more,

:49:57.:50:04.

aged 25. Before we are 25. Then we retire age 25. It's a favour to the

:50:04.:50:08.

public so they don't have to listen to washed out people playing music.

:50:08.:50:18.
:50:18.:50:18.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 45 seconds

:50:18.:51:18.

# Now spitting blood # Spit on blood... #

:51:18.:51:22.

Wu Lyf will be performing in the Great Bridgewater Street on

:51:22.:51:26.

Saturday. There is much more of the fest fst that isn't taking place

:51:26.:51:30.

behind closed door. Art is springing up all over the city. Out

:51:30.:51:35.

door events needn't talk cost you a penny. Ben Lewis took to the

:51:35.:51:42.

streets to see what he could discover. One of the big ideas at

:51:42.:51:47.

this year's Manchester festival is to exhibit art works in out door

:51:47.:51:52.

spaces across the city. I'm here to explore some of the new art and see

:51:52.:51:56.

how it is intervening in the city and altering our experience of. It

:51:56.:51:59.

something that gallery curators like to call, rupturing our

:51:59.:52:04.

perceptions. I don't have to go very far. I have hopped off the

:52:04.:52:08.

train from London. The first place is right here in Manchester's

:52:08.:52:16.

Piccadilly Station. This is a sound work designed to play through head

:52:16.:52:23.

phones while the listener wanders around the station. What are the

:52:23.:52:27.

voices people will hear inside their heads? I wanted to do a sound

:52:27.:52:31.

version, to make people aware of quite how much they are taking in

:52:31.:52:36.

of what they overhear and people around them. I spent a lot of time

:52:36.:52:41.

here at Manchester Piccadilly observing people. Was it only

:52:41.:52:46.

observing or was there a fair amount of snooping? There was a

:52:46.:52:50.

fair amount of snooping as well. Once you start you can't stop. All

:52:50.:52:55.

these people are waiting. I tried to capture in the piece the kind of

:52:55.:52:59.

things they are thinking about. Who knows what drama are going on in

:52:59.:53:03.

their lives. Can I try it out? We will give you head phones and

:53:03.:53:13.
:53:13.:53:16.

send you off. Choose a number. please. 13. Off you go. Listen. The

:53:16.:53:26.
:53:26.:53:27.

heart of it. Socks, water rate, nail, scissor, birthday card, God,

:53:27.:53:33.

the garden. I don't speak, it's not because I'm dumb or mad,. I'm not

:53:33.:53:39.

stupid. I make an effort, you know. Lunch money... You shouldn't talk

:53:39.:53:45.

about it. Sometimes I want to go back. I want you to know that

:53:45.:53:55.
:53:55.:53:56.

someone has seen. Simple, cinematic, a little bit spooky. I like it.

:53:56.:54:00.

Normally, when I go around in my every day life the only voice I

:54:00.:54:05.

hear inside my shaed my own strange one. It's nice to get a load of

:54:05.:54:10.

other peoples. I feel like I've been dropped into a fish bowl. I'm

:54:10.:54:13.

looking out at this strange world of humanity around me. Any work of

:54:13.:54:19.

art that makes me feel like a goldfish is OK. Time for me to move

:54:19.:54:25.

on. Next up, is Lincoln Square in the city centre where a new project

:54:25.:54:33.

is being installed. Irish artist John Gerard using 3D technology to

:54:33.:54:40.

create his unique art works. His latest piece shows a soldier making

:54:41.:54:45.

strange movements and springs an Iranian landscape to the heart of

:54:45.:54:52.

Manchester. What is that man doing in your film? He is, in a sense,

:54:52.:54:58.

dancing, in one sense. But, more specifically, he is mimicking the

:54:58.:55:03.

actions of soldiers responding to mortar fire in military exercises.

:55:03.:55:06.

They have this very particular precise and curious set of actions

:55:06.:55:12.

that they do. How did you transform these photograph noose a

:55:12.:55:20.

computerised Avatar? I showed them to a random dance in London. We

:55:20.:55:26.

brought them to a motion capture studio in Prague. He looked at the

:55:26.:55:31.

images and mimicking them. We used a motion capture system to capture

:55:31.:55:36.

the actions. It uses the same technology as video game. In a

:55:36.:55:46.
:55:46.:55:47.

sense, it's a temporal sculpture which you can emerse oneself in and

:55:47.:55:52.

it will be evolving and changing. This is a strikingly original

:55:52.:55:58.

iconic work of art about the way we wage warfare today. It's all done

:55:58.:56:01.

by simply abstracting the mortar fire posture that is a soldier

:56:01.:56:07.

might assume in training or in battle. What does that do, this

:56:07.:56:12.

endless loop of... It creates a sense of futility. A sense of

:56:12.:56:15.

something without end. A sense of ritual. All this is only possible

:56:15.:56:19.

because he is using the technology of the age of information. At the

:56:19.:56:23.

same time, this is also quite a tradishal work of art. If you look

:56:23.:56:30.

at it one way, it's something ancient, it's a war dance. As the

:56:30.:56:36.

sunsets in this simulated desert, elsewhere in Manchester, a few

:56:36.:56:42.

hours later, a ghoulish installation is about to come to

:56:42.:56:52.

life. Hello Mr Splitfoot. Little girl snap her little fingers.

:56:52.:56:57.

park is being transformed by this projection work The Influence

:56:57.:57:07.
:57:07.:57:08.

Machine. No, I have to recover from a nervous break down. Black is the

:57:08.:57:18.
:57:18.:57:19.

colour of my eyes. Oi! Tony is the master of illusionistic projections.

:57:19.:57:28.

He has a galley of ghostes who rant and rave about everything from

:57:28.:57:36.

their futures to their mummy. This piece ruptured my senses. You can

:57:36.:57:41.

experience all of these outside events until July 17th. The Culture

:57:41.:57:44.

Show will be back in August with three programmes from the Edinburgh

:57:44.:57:48.

Festival. We will take our leave tonight from Manchester with one of

:57:48.:57:56.

this year's highlights, a series of stunning shows from Bjork,

:57:56.:57:57.

encompassing musical lightning generators, harp-playing pendulums

:57:57.:58:03.

and a 24-piece all-female Icelandic choir. Bjork calls her latest

:58:03.:58:07.

Andrew Graham-Dixon presents from the 2011 Manchester International Festival featuring new plays by Victoria Wood and Johnny Vegas, music from Bjork and Damon Albarn, and performance artist Marina Abramovic.


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