Category Archives: performance

The brightest, bushiest, blue tales

Mrs Lomez never imagined she would see Laurie Anderson in performance, who she’d heard of as a kid growing up in the sticks by watching rage all-night music television (rage, rage, ra-ra-rage, rage, raaaaaage!), the best musical education anyone could ever hope to have.  There are few things more disconcerting than being the only person who can hear the answering machine message of O Superman at 3 a.m. ‘Are you there? You don’t know me but I know you.’  Years later at Antony’s Meltdown in London, Mrs Lomez was able to pick up the phone.

Amid the tales of doom and caution, told in a swirl of looped violin and slowed-down evil voice reverb which has the effect of freaking the audience out about the apocalypse that is sure to arrive due to climate change, fucked-up politics, religion, and people not saying what they mean, there was light-heartedness, courtesy of Anderson’s late dog companion, who she had trained to play the piano. On the internet you can find videos of Lolabelle playing freak-out synthesisers, in the footsteps of her pioneering sound artist human companion.

How does a dog hear music? Is it something beautiful, is it rhythmic, melodic? Is it felt as bass vibration in the body? Does she play music out of pleasure or because she was trained? Is obedience a demonstration of love? As a teenage organ player, Mrs Lomez can attest that pleasure from playing music comes only after the first seven years of practice.

Humans, Anderson attests, have much to learn from other animals. From their silence. In death there is no howling or crying, no whining or whimpering, just acceptance. Death is the release of love, she says.

The evening left Mrs Lomez with a few questions: did Darwin really have nightmares about peacocks? Are performance artists more responsible than scientists for the singular, popular, ill interpretation of the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’? Is it all that humans can teach other animals to manipulate a keyboard?

i am not a pope

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Big Mac strikes again

Amy Lamé has been touring her contribution to the canonisation of Morrissey, Unhappy Birthday, around England. It is a personal comment on his enduring influence on the lives of queers via The Smiths with a hardy dose of hairspray. Then ‘Bigmouth strikes again’ fills the studio, an apt time to say something political, in line with Moz’s tendency to mouth off.  Lamé gives an audience member a paragraph to read into the microphone, an excerpt of news on Morrissey’s stage talk following the bomb and shooting in Norway in 2011. Without googling the exact quote, what he said was something like ‘what happened in Norway is nothing compared to the massacre of animals that happens every day’. This quip earned the feted vegetarian (or is he vegan? Mrs Lomez cannot be sure) worldwide scorn, from fans and detractors alike. He’s a tough guy to love. Lamé is a fan who distances herself from her idol because of this. As if to refute the statement entirely, she stuffs a Big Mac in her mouth then ejects the masticated mince patty into the paper takeaway bag. A lot of people in the audience applauded at this point.

What is wrong with what Morrissey said? Why is it so offensive that even quiff-loving queers want to disown him?

Mrs Lomez suspects that it is the comparison of animals with humans that wounds so. Humans are special and because of this status, humans should not kill or inflict violence on other humans. To do so is to offend the special status of humans. But animals are not special, so any violence directed at them is acceptable. Further, to say that animals endure more harm than humans is to disrespect those humans that have been killed or have suffered because it suggests that they are less than human, as low as animals. Even using the word ‘massacre’ to talk about animals is offensive because this is a ‘human’ word, only appropriate when talking about humans. Its significance is too great to describe mass animal slaughter. Conversely, if we were to say that humans were slaughtered, this would mean that they were killed like animals.

Morrissey wasn’t quite so explicit, typically leaving himself open to interpretation. Perhaps he didn’t intend to be interpreted this way, as if devaluing human life. Maybe he was just thinking of the animals who, according to M, are just as special as humans are.

Lamé’s response is a great illustration of the absent referent in action. The reality of animal massacre that Morrissey speaks of becomes a trope in Lamé’s performance. Instead of a war of words, she eats a piece of meat, the dead animal disappearing in her rejection of Mozza’s moral values. By stuffing the Big Mac in her mouth she says that animals do not matter, that their deaths are insignificant, and we are meant to forget that an animal has died in the making of this hamburger. The Big Mac represents solidarity with the Norway victims and their families and every person with a sense of humanity, whatever that may be. McDonald’s becomes the harbinger of justice. But it isn’t a moral imperative to align yourself with either humans or animals, though Morrissey has clearly made his choice.

Until next time,

Mrs Lomez

 

Further reading:  The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams

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