- Theme music by Randy Clark and John Hardin
A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to see The Dead in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. I’ve never seen The Dead in Europe before, and I had no idea how popular they are here. I found it really inspiring to see at least 40,000 deadheads all gathered together in the same place. It was a unique vibe, unlike any Grateful Dead concert I’ve ever attended. Deadheads at Kutna Hora are a lot quieter, and more peaceful than American deadheads, but American deadheads definately have better drugs. I didn’t even catch a whiff of kind bud, and nobody offered to sell me doses in Kutna Hora, even so, seeing The Dead in Kutna Hora was an experience I will never forget.
Soundtrack by Czech band: Interpretace. Here’s a link:
Martin Janicek (pronounced “Yanicheck”) had just returned from the International Looping Festival in Mexico City when I caught up with him at Malostraske Dvorky, an art and music exhibition in the Malostranske District of Prague. He was showing a pair of sound sculptures called “Sirens,” named after the mythical maidens who lured sailors to their death with their irresistibly beautiful songs.
One of the sculptures is primarily a percussion instrument, played by hitting it. The other is powered by electricity, and contains a number of literal sirens that can be played from a kind of keyboard mounted on it. In this short video Martin Janicek shows us his “Sirens” and explains how they came to be.
Martin explained to me that Malostranske Dvorky is an annual event in Prague that began in 1981, when the Czech Republic was still part of Czechoslovakia, and still behind the Iron Curtain. Private art exhibitions were forbidden under Soviet Communist rule, but artists and patrons organized Malostranske Dvorky as a decentralized event that took place outdoors in the yards of residential homes. Under Communist rule, all homes were considered public property, so residents could not be held responsible for what happened in their own back yard, nor could the public be denied access to them.
Artists used graffiti to alert interested patrons as to the locations of the exhibits by painting the symbol of a top hat on the gate or door leading to the exhibits. Today, Malostranske Dvorky remains a mostly outdoor, decentralized event. A program guide tells patrons a little about the participating artists, and provides a list of addresses, along with photos of the doors or gates behind which the exhibits can be found.
I recorded an interview with Martin Janicek for my radio show, Monday Morning Magazine on KMUD. Martin has an amazing new album on Meteorismo Records called “TOC” available as a limited edition box containing a 12″ vinyl disc, a 12″x12″ book with pictures of all of the sound sculptures heard on the record, plus a CD including all of the music on the vinyl record plus bonus tracks. You can also download a digital version of TOC from bandcamp.com. I love his music, and encourage you to give it a listen.
In case you missed my interview with co-directors Morgan Capps and Jilann Spitzmiller about their new film, Meow Wolf: Origin Story, on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine last week, here it is.
…and don’t miss the Mendocino Film Festival coming up June 1-3 in the Village of Mendocino where you can see Meow Wolf: Origin Story along with a lot of other great movies. You can see the whole schedule of screenings at http://www.mendocinofilmfestival.org
Monday May 14, on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine (7-9am), I will talk with movie director Morgan Capps about her new movie Meow Wolf: Origin Story, from 7-7:30. Meow Wolf is an “art collective, a scrappy, anarchist-bent, psychedelic art collective which began in a Santa Fe basement and within ten years has grown into a multimillion-dollar company.” Meow Wolf creates large-scale interactive art installations that surround and envelope the observer. Their latest work, The House of Eternal Return, a 20,000 sq ft installation that’s part fun house, part black-light theater, and a whole lot of what their benefactor, George RR Martin, the creator of Game of Thrones, calls: “Like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”
Martin has become Meow Wolf’s biggest fan. He bought them a bowling alley so that they would have a permanent home. The group then began a 14 month buildout involving more than 140 artists culminating with the opening of The House of Eternal Return. In its first year in operation more than 400,000 people have visited The House of Eternal Return, earning the group more than 7 million dollars.
“Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return is a unique art experience featuring a new form of non-linear storytelling that unfolds through exploration, discovery, and 21st-century interactivity. The 20,000-square-foot art exhibit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contains dozens of rooms and secret passageways with interactive light, sculptures, video, animation, and musical objects to explore. Within this setting is the mystery of the Selig family, who disappeared one night after conducting a forbidden experiment in their Victorian mansion. This maximalist showcase creates a space where art becomes everything you see, hear, and touch.”
Morgan Capps and Jillann Spitzmiller created Meow Wolf: Origin Story to show us how it all began. Meow Wolf: Origin Story shows us how Meow wolf works, how they came together, and tells the story of their success. “The film follows artists whose identities have been shaped within this group dynamic, blowing the lid off stewing conflict between diverse egos, artistic freedom vs organization, individual passion, and the good of the collective. They must walk this fine line between chaos and order, inspiration and mental illness, and finally, success and destruction as they navigate their future together.”
You can see Meow Wolf: Origin Story as part of the Mendocino Film Festival, June 1 – June 3 in the village of Mendocino, with some screenings up the road a piece, in Ft. Bragg. The festival has scheduled screenings of Meow Wolf: Origin Story at 3:00pm on Saturday, June 2, in the Main Festival Tent, and again at 3:00pm on Sunday, June 3, at the Matheson Performing Arts Center in the Mendocino High School. They will screen a lot of terrific movies over the entire weekend. You can find out more about the Mendocino Film Festival at: http://mendocinofilmfestival.org
The trailer to Meow Wolf: Origin Story looks amazing, and the shots of The House of Eternal Return blew my mind. Next Monday, May 14, I’ll talk to director Morgan Capps about making Meow Wolf: Origin Story and about how an anarchist art collective turns into a multimillion-dollar business. You can hear it all on KMUD’s Monday Morning Magazine from 7-9am Monday May 14.