FuturDome is glad to present FOS ‘double performance (September 8 and September 12, 2020), developed for Milan, that takes its cue from the Small White Man project (2010-in progress).
A temporary architectural intervention that will turn part of FuturDome and San Celso’s Church (Corso Italia 37, 20121 Milan) into recording music studios. Using 190 meters of purple Divina, colour 692 and 984, the artist will build a temporary room, a musical-womb of sorts, where, over the course of four days, his ongoing musical project Small White Man will record its second album. Conceived in 2010,
Small White Man is a musical elegy based on a ‘conducting’ framework for musical improvisations through a simple system of coloured light bulbs that are switched on and off by the artist. This system allows him to conduct and co-compose musical improvisations with a group of musicians playing together for the first time. The success of this strategy relies strongly upon the participants’ intuition by erasing the separation between players and conductor, who together become a third unity.
On Tuesday,September 8, thanks to an in-depth research around the city of Milan, developed and planned during the last months, the artist became familiar and had rehearsals with ten classical instruments to enter in resonance with different objects – he had formally conceived-, within a sacred space (San Celso Church, Milan). A time session will be created, between instruments and objects, offering the possibility for spectators and visitors to experience a continuous emotional echoing of sounds and frequencies that will be producing a real symphony of the feelings, expressed among the artist, the musicians and the place. At the end of the long session, the entire sound path will be recorded and it’ll be created, specifically for ancient and sacred space, a special edition vinyl.
Saturday 12 September 2020, in FuturDome’s spaces, during the White Night art program, FOS, together with ten professional musicians, will present a new version of an on-going performance, converted into a domestic realm. The international audieces of miart circuit will be re-signifying the magic of a listening machine that will be changing and modulating its sounds inside FuturDome environments. In this case, a video will also be recorded in San Celso, and it’ll be projected in FuturDome’s courtyard, until 15 November 2020, reproducing both the sound sessions: in San Celso and in FuturDome, exposing also performing objects and sculptures played by the artist and his musicians.
Where does the title comes from and why did you start working on ‘Small White Man’ in 2010?
FOS: I first realized this frame for musical improvisation for in New York. There was something about me being a white man: a position that I wanted to scale down. So that’s where the title comes from. I wanted to Small White Man represent a collective effect. It became part of an engine, which in the end, created a system or an atmosphere through the music. I found a spirit which I could call Small White Man. By using the title, we could describe what the project is about. SWM should also be understood, through my practice; the idea of a social materiality or the system that arises, when we meet in groups, ideas like these, was something I where more focused on in that period.
But we are social animals who contribute continuously with our own references which constitute a flexible communicative fabric – it’s an improvisation. Here we use our own references to give into that situation, which is the same with SWM. With SWM it’s the individual musician who contributes with his or her own musical references, that then turn into music. So SWM is music made from the idea of social structures. Small White Man is an improvisational frame created by few structural rules. Once few rules are set for each musician they could participate. Nothing is written and everything could happen at the moment. Those are necessary procedures to move music ahead, in time: to both produce and receive new references.
How music could be considered, into your practice, a sculptural matter?
FOS: Music has been used many times as parts and elements in order to fulfil a specific situation or installation. But I think Small White Man is a work in itself: it’s an autonomous work that could be seen and understood as a concert, a piece of music.
Why did you define, once, such a performance as an elegy?
FOS: All artistic endeavours are developed to create some models, some poetic images of what we are trying to understand. Music is a different language, here music becomes an audio sculptural element.
How, on your opinion, which kind of vibrations will musicians reverberate and, at the same time, absorb in Milan?
FOS: On a practical level we are working on a powerful setting in Milan: San Celso’s Church. It means that we need to deal with the strong acoustics of this space. In previously concerts, I would use the mood of that specific performing day and the mood of things, finding the real temperature of the situation. In San Celso, on the contrary, we have to conceptualize where we have to start because we have to exploit very powerful acoustics. One possibility could be using more string instruments.
When we see musicians speaking to each other, with their instruments, it emerges a dialogue between music and audience outside the music. We could revise physical connections on stage and a different atmosphere. Those components together become an elegy connecting people and sound, while absorbing different levels of expression. Only few hours before the official rehearsals we will know, what should be done as a starting point, since the rest formulates itself during the concert.
FOS, a.k.a. Thomas Poulsen, was born Denmark in 1971 and lives and works in Copenhagen.
His recent projects and exhibitions include: the group exhibition DON’T WORRY at Kate McGarry Gallery, London (2015); Maggie Margaret lives at fig-2, ICA Studio, London (2015); participation in the group exhibition Trust-The saloon at GL STRAND, Copenhagen (2015); and the comprehensive solo exhibition Koøje (Porthole) at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2015). FOS recently completed the special commission of a permanent champagne bar for the foyer of the Danish Royal Opera, Always Happy New Year (2015) and The Montana Room at GL STRAND (2015). He designed the catwalk space for Céline’s SS16 collection at Paris Fashion week (2015). Since 2013, FOS has been collaborating with the French fashion house Céline, developing a new body of work consisting of unique design and furniture items for the fashion house’s stores. Other projects include Small White Man – Echo (LP) (2015), Still Waters Run Deep, Odense Kunsten, Brandt’s Odense (2014); Agora, Athens Biennale, Athens (2013), Declaration of Unsolid Memories, Camden Arts Centre, London; Bageri, Andersen Contemporary, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2012, which was awarded the Statens Kunstfond Prize, Denmark; OSLOO—A COLLECTION OF CENTERS, Armory Performance, New York, 2012; One Language Traveller, Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark, 2011. FOS participated in the 54th Venice Biennale, 2011, with Osloo and as part of Speech Matters, Danish Pavillion.
FOS’s current projects include the commission Your Success Is Your Amnesia, for the redevelopment of a square in the Efterslægten school in Copenhagen, several private commissions and the participation in Performa 15, the biennial of visual arts performance in New York.