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Outsider Art and Music

Outsider Art and Music, Thursday 22nd March, 2001, at the London Barbican

So the night started, rushing to get to the venue on time, finally arriving, free cloakroom, every person treated like royalty, a special venue designed for acoustic perfection. We found our seats on the first tier, and a three piece american improv ensomble came on and started doing some spoken word poetry. Crap american overtures and overtones in voice through colourful magical words. Disappointing way to start, I wanted to leave and go to the bar, but then he momentarily stopped beating, and started playing crap improv music. But I wasn’t listening. Behind the band, on a massive projection screen, the art for the night had begun. Paintings, a series of them, flowing by film, where the camera slowly scrolled across from left to right across page after page of a strip of works by HENRY DARGER (1892-1973)

Starting off innocent and full of pastel trees and countrysides, little girls played in the fields from piece to piece. There amongst the fields they met Robin Hood like men in tunics of purple and yellow, and the men parodied their proud manly stance, one foot forward, hand on hip, olay!, with their grinning smiles around the young girls. Then dark, dull coloured men appeared in the background carved in sandstone, proud statues of strong men strangling screaming babies. And psychedelic mushrooms appeared in the fields, and clouds of dark purple forboding husks did appear, and the clouds did darken. And fires erupted, explosions spraying amongst the playing girls, billowing blacks and browns across the canvas. and the innocent girls started screaming and running and the sandstone men took form and started murdering and mayhem did ensue. Then the purple and yellow men appeared with their old shotguns and bayonets and started shooting and the sky did lighten and girls started dancing and smiling and laughing once again. And still the red mushrooms with white polka dots grew upon the fields. Yes, bad music, interesting story-line art well displayed. Captive.

Time for half hour intermission, we went out into the bar to try a Guinness draught. There we saw an amazing character in the audience. He is wearing heeled snakeskin boots, with the heads still attached, at the base of the shoe tongue. He wore a black tailed suit, and black and red shirt, he has coal black greased hair and handlebar spindled moustache, Dali style, above a black goatee. Short and stubby in stature, he stood beside a belle, tall blond, emerald flowing evening gown, a smile that costs a thousand pounds per muscle movement. The pair were sculptured by definition.

Inside we are called, crowd attendance is mediocre so we go to the front of stage and find some seats second row. A choir of thirty come on stage and stand in silence. The projection flickers to life once more. This time the camera is slipping and sliding, in and sideways, out and across, and through and fading and careering focus in and focus out, fuzz and definition to the greatest detail from a picute you thought could not go so deep. These were one painting at a time, to fade to black with each paintings end. to go across each painting would take ten minutes. The chior started soft, the images appeared.

The work of JOE COLEMAN characters across a streetscape, from fabulously rich gafoows from strong top hat men, the film panned through to the destitute man at his feet shooting up, up through the window of the house they stood in front of into an orgy of festy prostitues with boils and herpes dashed across their faces, out into the street through the eyes of the crowd of gathered cold people with t.b. yellow eyes. Words appeared in the cracks of the pavement, words of confusion, of resurrection, of death and burning, words stolen, words borrowed, words conjuring up the magical collusion of a thousand lives clashing on the street. The choir arked and screamed and the bellowing tones shattered the crying pain, collapsing it in upon itself, and the final picture zoomed ou , and their painted was the man with snakeskin boots and Dali like mo’, sitting proud, whilst his blonde wife stood tall and proud by his side.

The art of Joe Coleman. a minor break of moments came as the moment I was awaiting arrived, with bass, guitar, drumkit, sampler, and four piece string section. THE DELGADOS arrived. This next art piece was another JOE COLEMAN. This time they were all portraits, ten of them, and here the Delgados started all slow and Godspeed You Black Emperor like. building building, as the film panned through the portraits of the destitute and waning, through the eyes so yellow, over a thousand words hidden amongst one picture, and I spiralled with the words, and I spiralled with the music, and it built and cascaded, and collapsed and all at once stopped…. For the panning through the dark pupils of the tb eye, into the next picture into the next musical journey. And we drifted through I was in aural and visual heaven. It all combined in the deepest darkest pit that I could do nought but smile gleefully. It was perfect. People may see it as dark and disturbing, indeed we were warned prior. Some may see it as unnecessary to put oneself through. But here we saw the mad collections of a snakeskin shoes genius put to film and music. I can not ask for much more.

The delgados are the people of Chemikal Underground records. Scotsmen of musical repute. Go seek find. Joe Coleman, I knew nothing of prior to the night, a genius, go seek find. At the bar after the gig, I saw the guitarist girl of the Delgados, and the previous night whilst smoking some and listening to The Great Eastern, I said I would marry that girl. So I could not give up the opportunity to try. She was a shy girl and wondered who the crowd had come along to see, from the looks of people around me, there were a few that had come just to see the rare appearance of a live Delgados. Hopefully after my contract I will make it to Glasgow and visit their recording studio, and see them working on their next album.

After that conversation I saw snakeskinned Joe Coleman, so thought I was having a good night so thanked him for the inspiration and the art of the night. Go visit his web sites. They are out there! Some may find some graphics disturbing. Some will be blown away. Go seek find.