Lara O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE installation on the Kotlin Island, St Petersburg site specific installation 2007, International Body Navigation Festival, St Petersburg, Russia http://www.bodynavigation.ru Text by Tatiana Pentes “Anyone who wants can look at my films as into a mirror, in which he will see himself” Andrei Tarkovsky Documentary photo Lara O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE installation on the Kotlin Island (2007) Lara…
SHANGHAI: Eastern Hollywood ? Digital Research ChineseBOX Serge Ermoll & His Music Masters, the Majestic Hotel prior to its demolition Shanghai, CHINA, c. 1930 (image above) This work is the transformation of a chapter my doctor of creative arts, UTS, BLACK BOX http:www.strangecities.net for peer review in a forthcoming eJournal interactive paper – the ensemble of image, sound, and textual…
1. My Story My project is an autobiographical and inter-disciplinary one. In it I draw on personal, spiritual, philosophical, historical, and cultural resonances to question the uniqueness of the art object in the production of a creative digital program. The pursuit of knowing and recording oneself can never be a transparent act. It projects an illusory sense of selfmastery because…
ABSENCE PRESENCE : The Body Navigation, Dance/Video/Performance/Music, 14-18 of July, 2007, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA
ABSENCE PRESENCE : The Body Navigation, Dance/Video/Performance/Music, 14-18 of July, 2007, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA by Lara O’Reilly (website)
Text by Tatiana Pentes
Lara O’Reilly, an Australian installation artist, residing at National Centre of Contemporary Art in June, 2007 and her works installed at Body Navigation III International Festival of Contemporary Arts on 14 – 18 July, 2007.
A film & performance installation in the Chapel of the Naval Hospital, Kronstadt, forming part of III International festival of contemporary arts, The BODY NAVIGATION, DANCE/VIDEO/PERFORMANCE/MUSIC, 14-18 of July, 2007, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA
“Anyone who wants can look at my films as into a mirror, in which he will see himself.” Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 184.
“The installation was intended to be a highly experiential encounter with the space and with oneself. For the viewer to experience their own sense of the space and find themselves in a world between worlds…blurred between interior and exterior realms of built and natural spaces and the interior and exterior states of mind that the performance and the soundscape allude to….” Lara O’Reilly artist
In the contemporary convergent global media environment of digital networked technology, and pastische, empty parody (mimicry), O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE returns us to the traditional notion of “multi-media”, suggestive of the shadows reflected on the walls of Plato’s allegorical Cave. The spectacular installation of ABSENCE PRESENCE, is staged on three levels and Chapel of the Naval Hospital, Kronstadt, Kotlin Island, Russia, 48km east of St Petersberg. The naval hospital was built 1717, and is the site of the earliest medical establishment in Russia. The Russian staging follows an Australian site-specific manifestation of the performance on the abandoned industrial Cockatoo Island, Sydney Cove.
O’Reilly creates for us a highly experiential and dramatic encounter, with her spatial, temporal and theatrical exploration of the rupture/suture paradox between marine and terrestrial, past and present, the outside and inside, the remote and the intimate, of seduction and abandonment, experience and the underworld. ABSENCE PRESENCE is infused with the resonance and mystery of what we feel but cannot see. In Lara’s words:
….[I felt] Kronstadt should have a very slowed choreographed movement piece. There was something about the spaces of the Chapel, the ascending movement through the spaces –I imagined that while the viewer ascended through the space, that they passed through these empty spaces as a slowed dance, a rhymic and sensual play between their own existence in the space and the lived memory of the place, a Chapel that functioned as a final farewell for the recently departed…”
The Kronstadt work integrates realtime and the simulated (cinematic) representations of the performances/movement of the bodies of five young contemporary Russian female dancers, professionally trained in classical western ballet and Japanese Butoh dance. The filmic (technological) cinematic sequences of the woman are juxtaposed with the live performance of female forms (reminiscent of netted mermaids) suspended in cocoons from the rafters, and released to move, dance and wander. The chrysalised women are “veiled and lit in a sensuous light, conjuring emotions of sadness, loss, loneliness and reverie and yet a gentle sense of security of our own stilled existence within the incredible space where we find ourselves..on an island….” The installation successfully plays with our notion of place, identity, communication, sexuality, the personal and the political, specifically with the cinematic and radiophonic allusions. The haunting tones of a live music (a cello sound piece) conjure the ghosts of the past, the dispossessed, and those who have passed from this life to the next, in these spaces, the site of the Kronstadt Revolution in the Finnish Gulf. Ironically, the waters off Kotlin Island are also the location of a modern tragic ship collision and indeed the invention of radio-location after Alexander Popov, the lauded Russian scientist (reported to have invented radio).
The filmic sequences are primarily performed by O’Reilly’s Russian model /dancer/muse Olya, in the locations of Konstantin Fort; the 300 year old Kronstadt Cemetery; and Summer Gardens. These cinematic performances are overlayed with film sequences of the ascending movement through the interior space of the Chapel and military hospital (closed in 2005), conjuring the bodies (victims) of the revolutions that passed through.
ABSENCE PRESENCE installation Kronstadt Island RUSSIA
My first collision with a previous staging of the ABSENCE PRESENCE multi-media installation in a deteriorating industrial complex, located on the isolated Cockatoo Island in Sydney Cove, Australia (the indigenous Australian Aboriginal name for this island is Wa-rea-mah). I was touched by her ability to deeply engage those visiting the location. The piece resonates with the dis-location of Indigenous people during the colonial period, when their island home was transformed into a convict prison for those transported across the seas from Britain. Later this place was a colonial & industrial shipping dock.
Therein lyes the connective thread – through the ghosts of the displaced – between the Cockatoo Island (Australia) and Naval Hospital Kronstadt (Russia) re-enactments. My engagement with both O’Reilly’s work and the sites are complex and intertwined. As daughter of Vladimir, a Admiral in the Tsarist Russian Navy, my grandmother Xenia emigrated from St Petersberg with her mother Eugenia & two sisters during the Revolution, they never saw Vladimir again, but found refuge in Harbin, Manchuria, then Shanghai, China & later Sydney Australia. As a child I grew up with these memories and on the Balmain peninsula, my primary school opposite Cockatoo Island.
The dialectic relationship between these two island spaces (curt by sea), both scarred by waves of industrialisation (modernity), migration, military/colonial abandonment – they share a depth of history and speak to each other, as O’Reilly’s work speaks to me (the child of a Russian émigré).
Thursday, April 26, 2007
ABSENCE PRESENCE installation cockatoo island
When encountering Lara O’Reilly’s multi-media installation I was touched by the work’s ability to deeply engage those visiting the location – a deteriorating industrial complex located on an isolated island in Sydney Cove. The indigenous Australian Aboriginal name for this place is Wa-rea-mah, and these people were dis-located during the colonial period, when their home was transformed into a convict prison for those transported across the seas from Britain. Later this place was a colonial & industrial shipping dock. The work resonates with ghosts of the displaced. As visitors/participants in O’Reilly’s work we must replicate the journey [across the river styx] from the mainland and step over a psychological threshold to apprehend the installation. Dissonant digital film/video imagery of a woman walking through spaces of ‘nature’ and water are projected on multiple screens within the massive space, juxtaposed with female forms (reminiscent of mermaids) suspended in silken cocoons from the rafters. The haunting tones of a live cello sound piece, conjure the ghosts of the past, the dispossessed, those incarcerated, and mingling with the feathers from a million birds and industrial detritus.
absence presence installation cockatoo island
A site-specific performance and moving image installation infused with the resonance and mystery of what we feel but cannot see. It is a meditation on space and memory and the ways in which the two constantly interact at specific sites. Composing filmic worlds moving between the abandoned architecture of Cockatoo Island and the remote Australian bush and how this collision of built and natural worlds can mediate between the present and the past – between the visible and the invisible. Rooms with suspended female bodies, veiled and lit in a sensuous light, conjuring emotions of sadness, loss, loneliness and reverie and yet a gentle sense of security and of our own stilled existence within the incredible space where we find ourselves.. on an uninhabited abandoned island that is richly embedded with the history of our colonial and distant past.
“The installation was intended to be a highly experiential encounter with the space and with oneself. For the viewer to experience their own sense of the space and find themselves in a world between worlds…blurred between interior and exterior realms of built and natural spaces and the interior and exterior states of mind that the performance and the soundscape allude to…. Above all it was to be enjoyed and to be taken on a journey to a faraway place…” Lara O’Reilly artist
Special thanks: Geoffrey Weary
by Gerry Carman and Damien Reilly
The Age, October 18, 2010
SERGE Ermoll, one of Australia’s greatest and most colourful jazz pianists who played with many of the best exponents of the jazz idiom, has died of a heart attack in his flat at Parramatta in Sydney, aged 67. Given to expressive outbursts not just on the keyboard, he had talents ranging beyond music to martial arts as well as the dark art of private detective. But it was music that elevated him far beyond the fifth-dan black belt that he held in karate. For nearly 40 years he pushed boundaries with his exceptional musical skills, refusing to conform. He featured on 29 internationally released albums and was nominated for an Aria award for his album, Jungle Juice.
His group, Free Kata, which he formed in the 1970s, ”ripped open the heart of music aesthetics in Australia”, John Shand wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald in August 2003.
Earlier, in the late 1960s, while visiting Britain, he was invited to fill in with the Dudley Moore Trio when the musician-comedian went to Hollywood. In no time he was an integral member of the group, which included Chris Karen, the drummer from Melbourne, and bassist/vocalist Peter Morgan.
He also either collaborated, recorded or performed live with a who’s who of jazz artists such as Richie Cole, Lester Bowie, Don Moyee, Phil Woods, Art Pepper, Joe Henderson, Eddie Moore, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown, Sonny Stitt, Ernestine Anderson, Odeon Pope, Banford Marsalis, John Lee and others.
Ermoll, in fact, was destined to be a jazzman.
He was born in Shanghai to White Russian parents Xenia, a singer and dancer, and Sergei Ermolaeff, a Manchurian-born Russian jazz drummer and famous orchestra leader in Shanghai in the 1930s and ’40s. In 1951 the family fled China for Australia in the aftermath of the communist revolution and his demanding father made him practise the piano for hours a day from age five; he also learnt to play the trumpet.
In his late teenage years he heard Dizzy Gillespie for the first time and was hooked on jazz, to his father’s disgust. Years later he would lead the support band when Gillespie toured Australia. An incredibly complex man with a mercurial temperament, Ermoll, a recovering alcoholic, could be difficult, yet was also incredibly kind. Martin Jackson, who worked with and promoted Ermoll, recalled how he had a certain persuasiveness about him: on one occasion while he was working as a private detective – he was licensed to carry a gun – the wife of a Sydney musician paid him to find her bounder of a husband. Ermoll tracked him to Melbourne, grabbed him out of the clutches of his girlfriend, bundled him into his Monaro and drove him back to Sydney with firm advice not to stray from home again. He didn’t.
And, on his last gig in Melbourne in Bennett’s Lane, Ermoll threatened to shoot the owner with the gun he carried – but apologised later. However, even Ermoll knew when to be prudent. His detective work so angered one of Sydney’s biggest gangsters that he was ”firmly advised” to leave town. Luckily for him, he took the trip to London – and found fame with the Dudley Moore Trio.
Tribute to Serge Ermoll 1943-2010 by SIMA
Spontaneous Improvisational Musicians Association
by John Clare
date: Wednesday 10 November 2010
The death of pianist/composer Serge Ermoll late last month came as no surprise to those who knew him. He was very overweight and had been warned by his doctor that one more drinking binge would most likely be his last. In fact it was a cancer which many of us were unaware of that killed him. While the end was no surprise, it came as a shock. Serge’s erratic energies, his rages, exuberance, friendships, vendettas, deep glooms and high elations were like the elements. Surely they would never go away.
If it was hard to believe that Ermoll had gone, it was almost as hard to believe that the latter day Serge was the same fit, seemingly disciplined, trim and quite handsome, hip young bebop pianist and seventh dan black belt karate player who had appeared at the famous El Rocco, Kings Cross, in the late 1950s and again, after a sojourn in Britain, in the late 1960s, leading a trio that was to some extent modelled on the popular American piano trio The Three Sounds. Sometime back in those days, Ermoll, in his karate outfit and already sporting a Stalinesque moustache, was featured in a short interlude on ABC TV, working out on the grass in the Sydney University Quad. In black and white. Ermoll seemed to live several lives, sometimes simultaneously. He was also a private detective. This element would have made the ABC spot even more intriguing.
Ermoll was born in Shanghai of Russian parents. His father was a trumpet player and band leader. Serge studied the piano from five years of age, but when the family moved to Australia, they could not afford to buy one. Nine year old Serge was given a trumpet instead. Still very young, he played in a father/son duet with Ermoll senior. The two wore black trousers with cummerbunds and shirts ruffed at the cuffs. They played popular Spanish and Eastern European melodies.
After playing with British drummer Jackie Dougan (whom I had befriended when he was playing at Ronnie Scotts before he migrated to Australia) in its very last days, Serge returned to London and played with several notable British musicians. Back in Australia in the 1970s, he embraced the Free Jazz movement, drawing from its American and European aspects to create a highly distinctive piano approach – explosive, fiercely fragmented and turbulent, but also encompassing a singular lyricism and a sustained rolling power. In 1974 Ermoll teamed up with expatriate Russian tenor saxophonist Eddie Bronson, bassist Graham Ruckley and drummer Ross Rignold to form the first edition of the band Free Kata. They made an album of that name for Phillips. At this point they were playing themes by Ermoll and Ruckley but improvising on them very freely. Soon the themes disappeared and everything was freely improvised. And the level of energy and seeming abandon rose dramatically.
After one or two personnel changes (bassist Richard Ochalski figures somehwere along the way) the most successful edition of Free Kata coalesced: Ermoll, Bronson, and very young drummer Louis Burdett. Successful is the operative word. Arguably the most successful musically, it was also surprisingly popular for such free and sometimes violent music. The power and fierce intensity – and the complete absence of any concessions or compromises – drew some quite large audiences, including full houses at The Basement (in its earlier location further along Rieby Place). At this point I joined the band, intending to read some poetry with them. Ermoll insisted that I improvise, as they did. Improvise words, sounds and shapes that is. I pulled back at first from this, having no confidence in my ability to do it. Following threats and urgings from Serge I took the stage at The Basement and discovered an unsuspected facility to invent at high speed – a facility I also used in collabrations with Roger Frampton, Bernie McGann, Jon Rose and others. Even the major free jazz artists, when they used words, read poems with minimal improvisation. Our verbal/instrumental interaction was completely improvised and may well have been unique. It was Serge’s idea, not mine!
In that period, Serge, Eddie and Louis were among the very few in this country who had a real grasp of free, non-metric time. It was conducive to improvising with words as well as notes. The American saxophonist Howie Smith (then head of jazz studies at the Conservatorium) asked if he could appear with the band and, after an extraordinary “reharsal” at the Con (someone left an abusive note on the door of our rehearsal room) we all appeared at The Basement, where we had drawn a full house. The place was packed with fans as well as those who had come to jeer. The pro faction steadily drowned the anti claque and we finished to a standing ovation. On one occasion we actually played at a poetry reading and were enthusiastically recived. A very successful tour of melbourne followed, with the band playing at universities and at Brian Brown’s club. That is Brian brown the musician.
Free Kata made two more albums (on the Kata label) featuring Ermoll, Bronson and Burdett on the first and adding myself on the third. Both were recorded without re-takes or rests on the same day. At the height of Free Kata’s popularity, the erratic Serge temporarily abanded the concept and formed a series of largely indifferent fusion and bebop bands. Later he reformed Free Kata with Burdett, bassists dave Ellis and Steve Elphick alternating, plus my son Mathew on alto saxophone. He also performed some solo improvisations. Some of these were powerful. During others he spoke in a maudlin and/or abusive fashion to the audience. Ermoll’s prodigious drinking was having an obvious effect.
That some of Ermoll’s problems seemed to be self-inflected makes them no less tragic to the onlooker.
It is tempting to shrug Serge Ermoll off by saying “he had something.” In fact he had a considerable talent and, at the time, a definite influence. An influence I can still hear in some of the free improvisers today. A further account of my involvement can be found the 2nd edition of Extempore magazine.