Presentation and discussion of "Versandhauskatalogprogrammmusik"
from "endlich katzenersatz wurstenden 14,90"
CD step 1
CD step 2
Push up body
Before I will try to introduce the CD and - which is more important - the development that led to the CD, I would like to give a short description of the group "endlich katzenersatz wurstenden 14,90". Finally, I will give a personal interpretation of the project. I'm not a member of "endlich katzenersatz wurstenden 14,90" (I would translate the name with "finally cat substitute, sausage-ends fourteen ninety", I'll call them just EKW), but I'm a near friend, a kind of sympathizer of them and I had the honour to see the whole CD-production process from a very close point of view. I must say clearly, that the interpretations I will give are my personal ones, they are not given by the producers.
EKW is from Graz and was founded as a radio group on the free radio station of Graz , named "Radio Helsinki". Free radio means non-state and non-commercial. Its part of the - lets say - off space structures of Graz , a very useful institution for aesthetical minorities as well as for political or social minorities. Everyone can broadcast there anything, it only must be legal and it must not be racist, sexist or fascist. EKW, founded in the year 2000, has made live broadcasts one night a week. The group has 4 members: Moke Klengel, Christoph Rath, Marlies Stöger and André Tschinder. The program they did included on air produced radio plays, self-made music improvisations, satires... I'll not talk about their radio program to much, and it is well documented and archived on their homepage. I only want to mention, that they are not doing the weekly broadcast anymore as a group, because 3 of the members went to Linz last year. EKW 14,90 has also made exhibitions, participated at projects, festivals and so on, presenting acoustical installations as well as visual ones. They also produce films, the latest one is "Die Käseprinzessin rettet den Moment" - "The cheese princess saves the moment". They are also doing live acts as for instance the concert in the sewage system of Graz in 2003 called "Ratten, Ratten, überall Ratten" - "rats, rats, everywhere rats!". As a band together with Adnan Balcinovic they call themselves "Katarina Blei".
CD step 1
One of their exhibitions, this will lead us now to the CD, was "Dienstleistungen und Hilfestellungen" - (services and supports) in 2002. It was made in the room of the group "rhizom", an off space art association in Graz , as part of "rhizoms" exhibition project "Raum Mental" (mental space). The CD is result of one of the exhibition's "services": EKW placed there an ordinary ordering-catalogue, one of those where everything can be ordered like "Quelle" or "Otto", with all those fetishist/normalized pictures and descriptions of the articles inside. And they produced an ordering form as it is used for such catalogues. The visitors where able to order articles from the catalogue at the art group and paid 2 Euros each article. The article, that the ordered got sent was self-made by the group, and it was a song produced on the fundament of the catalogue's article. The group made no profit, because the two Euros where spend for the writable CD, the postage
For example, I ordered the "Dr.Kern Standmassage" and got this CD sent. (I ordered it, because I found this machine monster with those nude women inside very interesting, the machine as body normalizer). On front of the cover they wrote, like an ordering institution, the sentence "dear costumer, thank you very much for your ordering..." (Play CD).
The song, this is my personal interpretation, represents the article with this erotic-film music style from the seventies, reproducing the motive of "female relaxing" arranged for hetero- male perception. It is somehow a persiflage on the "watching the nude taking a bath" - motive.
CD step 2
27 articles where ordered/produced/distributed by this way. In a second step, EKW asked musicians to make a remix out of the EKW - results. Making a remix was not meant so strictly, in fact they could do what they wanted and they could chose which song/article they want to remix. So we have 27 EKW-songs and twenty remixes.
Then, I would say as a documentary, a double CD was brought out, one with the originals, one with the remixes. As "bootleg" they put a paper inside with the description of the article from the catalogue, and self drawn reproductions of the catalogues photos. The label of the CD is "niesom", it can be ordered there. ( www.niesom.at ).
Now to give an example, I would like to play the article "Dyson Bodensauger DC 05 absolute", a hoover with "special technology", "bacterium destroying feature" and so on... (CD 1/25) Now let's listen to the remix of Lu Zeininger, an artist from Graz - member of the computer infrastructure - group "mur.at". (CD 2/19) This is one of my favourite remixes, because it stages the EKW's article back into an "ordinary" cleaning-scene, taking this technical monster just from under the bed. So I see it as a aesthetical rethinking of the whole project with the focus on the article-artist relationship.
Push up body
Shortly about my part: I was also invited to remix, and chose the "Nuance: Push up body". First I would like to play the original. (CD 1/10). I interpreted this song as a way to say "fuck you" to the orderer, using this noisy, aggressive bass - sound. I understood this as "fuck you", because this push up body - picture in the catalogue, this female model pose, is one of those kinds you see hundreds and thousands of times day in and day out. I found the sentence "suck my dick and the rest will follow", this montage of two cliché pop culture slogans, both seen and heard a thousand times, as a great strategy. "Suck my dick" is a classical rock-music male slogan and "move your ass and the rest will fellow" is, as I see it, a quite "female" pop slogan (I only know it from this girlie-T-skirts). Both putted together not with a rock or pop style, but with this aggressive noisy sound makes it somehow absurd, it produces irony by using clichés against each other, it's meaning is totally changed but not clear. A women demands to suck her dick. The rest that follows could be other people, could be sperm, could be a relationship, could be the result of a conflict (if she meant "suck my dick" as a way to say "fuck of"), or whatever.
I took this song from the point of gender: its norms represented in pop slogans where transformed into aggression, irony and somehow protest. But I tried to do a remix, which works as a push up body itself, to make EKW's acoustical body "sexy", bringing it back to the norm. Therefore I pushed the song inside a corset of a strict pop-rhythm done with a techno program. Only parts of the music were left for all the music's aggression was transferred into quite harmless dance music with rock attitudes. And the remix is, as the norm, exactly three minutes long.
As a reference to the sentence "suck my dick..." sang by a woman, I added another sentence sang by myself in a boy group-style, the sentence is "gender me tenderly" (I'm so proud of this sentence). This should increase the original sentence's irony by inventing a third pop - cliché, the soft charming boy, according to the strategy of using clichés against each other. It was a way to construct an acoustical man-woman relationship: Both "very sexy", very normal in their gender role, both just clichés, but together absurd. She is demanding, he is begging in the well known love song - style. Both miss their role barely and therefore they miss each other, so what comes out is even more unclear, is confusing and funny. Let's hear: (CD 2/10)
So far about my part: Now I want to give my interpretation of the whole project.
The main topic is service: Service is, as I see it - remembering all the propaganda about "new economy" - a political fetish. Ordering-catalogue - companies are "new" economy without being new: Their main capital is communication, infrastructure, distribution (not production). Also the ideology, represented in the catalogues, is quite old - the ideology of the western petty bourgeoisie family.
I would call the EKW's concept a kind of readymade. This readymade is not an object, but a service. Service is mainly a kind of relationship, so I'll interpret the "Versandhauskathalogprogrammmusik" from the point of relationships. First, the relationship between costumer and seller was reconstructed by the catalogue, the ordering form, the two Euros. The service-relationship disturbs the art-expectations one might have in an exhibition. It is reproduced in the relationship of artist and recipient, but the artificial relationship intervenes
somehow against the commercial relationship, the reproduction disturbs the original. Instead of buying something, the "costumer" is starting a creative process.
I find it very important, that this creative process, the making of the songs, was done in private space (the room of André Tschinder). In the classical costumer - company relationship (for instance ordering at Quelle) we have privacy (private consumption) on one hand and an bureaucratic institution on the other hand (call enter, storehouse...). Here we have two private poles: public space (exhibition) is the important middle-point where both meet each other. The articles (catalogue, CD) are a communication means between people (normally the people are the exchangemeans of money and articles). This impression is forced by the formal sentence's irony on the self burned CD that the orderer got sent. ("Dear Costumer, thank you very much...")
The recipient ordered and got the CD, the new circle seems to be closed. Therefore, the invitation of other musicians to do remixes is important, because it opens up the orderer - art group relationship. The meaning of EKW´s songs was changed by this way: They are not only ironical comments about the articles anymore, they are not only articles on their own anymore: They are articles used as EKW used the catalogue's article before: A way to initiate new creative processes. The artists of EKW got the role of the costumers.
The remix of Oliver Stotz and Sabine Marthe has the focus on their own role as remixers. First I want to play the original; it is the "Stretch shirt". On this Stretch-shirt in the catalogue is such an awful US-patriotic symbol, eagle and flag and so on. (CD 1/1). At the remix, the political satire is kept in its title "Wertekanon" "Canon of values". It is a word game, it is used for value - consensus, and the remix is a kind of canon about the value. (CD 2/1) But what value is the remix about: It performs artificially a making of
the remix itself in terms of trying to sing the original, somehow to satisfy the costumer "EKW". So the value the canon is about is not only the T-skirts ideology anymore, it is the EKW's artwork too. So I see this remix as a great summery of the project.
I hope I was able to give an overview about the "Versandhauskathalogprogrammmusik".
If you want to know more about the mentioned groups, I have here a few internet links:
http://ekw1490.mur.at (the homepage
of "Endlich Katzenersatz" with acoustical archive)
http://www.trost.at (the CDs can be ordered here)
http://helsinki.mur.at (the free radio
of Graz )
http://rhizom.mur.at (homepage of the
art association where the exhibition of EKW was)
If you have questions or comments on my presentation or my push-up-body- remix, I would be glad to discuss them (koloman kann).