Operating on the threshold between noise music, poetry reading and art performance: Lucinda Dayhew and Hanne Lippard alias Luci Lippard playing live in concert at the PEACE WEEKEND July 1/2 at the SCHIRN.
Performing together since 2014 the Berlin based Band Luci Lippard presents the final concert on July 2 at the SCHIRN PEACE WEEKEND. The Schirn Magazin talks with Lucinda Dayhew and Hanne Lippard about happy coincidences and what it means to be in a performance band as friends, operating on the threshold between noise music, poetry reading and art performance.
Schirn Mag: Luci, your work explores a wide range of media, including sound, music, video, photography and installation. Hanne, you use your own voice in performances and lectures to investigate mechanisms of language and speech. There’s a strong interest in rhythm, repetition, translation and forms of communication. How did you get to know each other and what made you decide to start working together as Luci Lippard?
Hanne Lippard: In Berlin I used to work in a café which was close to Luci’s house, so she was a regular there. They had a lot of magazines and books there and I sold my book „Nuances of No“ there as well.
Lucinda Dayhew: One day I picked Hanne’s book up. I started reading it and really liked it. We started chatting to each other and it immediately clicked.
HL: I used a drum machine once for a performance in Mexico City, but that didn’t feel right, I wanted something more animated. So I became curious about working with another person, someone who is actually a musician.
You didn’t know about each other’s practices before?
HL: Not so much, no.
LD: We just started talking and I guess we have a similar sense of humour and got along quite well. I came in again and again and we had our little chats. It was quite social first, and then we started talking about each other’s work and realized that we had a lot in common.
When you said you have a similar sense of humour you had to think about how Hanne’s texts are inspired by miscommunication and wordplay or how a text from a spam mail for Viagra finds its way into her work. So when you both create a piece together, does text or sound precede the other?
HL: We’re both quite autonomous in our practices. I write things and Luci works on rhythmical and musical possibilities, but we think about these things apart. But our communication works so well that there’s never the situation of not knowing how to relate to each other’s work.
LD: And sometimes we’ll just start talking about a text, or we start with a couple of words and work with them rhythmically. Sometimes the sound follows the text, sometimes the words follow the sound. Because we formed the performance band at the same time that we were becoming friends, you could say that art flows into life and life flows into art. Very often we meet separately from being in the Luci Lippard band and talk about other things which then flow back into the work.
It’s interesting that you speak of rehearsing and being in a band, because usually you are being referred to as an artist duo or a performance duo. When seeing your shows, this is like a band playing a concert, why are people not moving more?
HL: That’s because it’s the context of art.
So which term do you prefer?
LD: I would say we are a performance band. There are performative elements but we are definitely a band, we just don’t operate within the usual song structures.
HL: Luci, you have been in bands, I am really a novice to this. How is it for you?
LD: I really have been in a million bands and for most of the time I have also been an artist at the same time. I was working with sound a lot, but also with film and video, but the practices remained quite separate. Now we are bringing these elements together and thinking conceptually about music in a way that’s quite freeing. And as we are working in an art context we also position the performance differently for each place we are performing in.
Your artist statement says you make „noise out of poetry“, which is such a beautiful and adequate description. You also seem to have a specific understanding of both terms.
LD: It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek to say we’re making noise out of poetry, even though there is definite substance to that statement. It could lead one to think about the poetry performance, which is usually very controlled and there are certain conventions, and we are altering that. We’re positioning ourselves somewhere between a poetry reading and a music performance. Our sound is very dissonant and loud sometimes, it’s not all pretty and melodic, it can be quite harsh.
Do you already think about the spatial arrangement when conceiving your performances?
LD: It depends on the circumstances. If we have time to see it then we might think of something particular to do in that space. Or if we are asked to play in an exhibition, as is the case for the upcoming PEACE project at Schirn, then we alter our set to the circumstances.
HL: Luci made an installation about rehearsing for Galerie Wedding and we also played in that setting, which was, and felt, very specific.
The practice room seems to be such a mystified, magical place.
HL: Just as the artist studio, no?
LD: Hanne, does being part of the performance band open up the way you would perform with your voice? Rather then when you do a performance reading?
HL: In that sense I have a bipolar existence. I have the solo act and the band act. Just that in Luci Lippard, the frame lends itself much more to improvisation. I pull out a different character. It’s very different when you have a second person you have to relate to. You see yourself more from the outside, and I am much more relaxed. Solo performances are very exhausting for me, I even get a bit delirious, like I am peering into myself. This sounds very radical…
LD: Maybe it has to do with the fact that you are not carrying the whole performance by yourself, so you can relax more. And it’s a slightly less formal approach, we might have a bit of a laugh in between. It’s a bit punk rock in a way you know, you can just do what you want.
Your name „Luci Lippard“ is a very fortunate coincidence.
HL: It is! We should start naming ourselves „Fortunate Coincidence.“
Your name giver, the art critic, writer and curator Lucy R. Lippard is known for her feminist and activist approach to art and cultural production. How do you relate to her practice?
LD: We always said that if we formed a band, we would call it Luci Lippard. It was just too perfect as a pun. But then it can also lead to confusion, because people might think it’s the real Lucy Lippard, but her name is spelled differently, and so on. So it’s an art-joke but almost too perfect. It’s not an hommage to Lucy Lippard but really rather a happy coincidence.
HL: But if my name was Maxi and your surname was Ernst, we wouldn’t have called ourselves Max Ernst, for example. And the name „Luci Lippard“ also frames the context in which we work, it wouldn’t have any significance in the music world, then it would just be funny for us. But Lucy R. Lippard’s theories and especially her notion of the dematerialization of the art work are relevant for us of course.
LD: The dematerialization of the art object (laughs) – that’s what we are.