Yvette Mattern, One to Many (2010)
It is the middle of a blizzard, the afternoon of the opening of the Transmediale .10 Festival and the first in a series of evening performances co-organized between the CTM and TM, this year titled ‘Futurity NOW!’. Outside Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), where the annual festival for art and digital culture is located, the Tiergarten Carillon stands 42 metres high, clad in black granite, a freestanding tower which is also an instrument – or perhaps an instrument which is also its own architecture. About halfway up, stacked in tic-tac-toe ranks and columns, are 68 bells. A metal staircase winds up inside one of the Carillon’s columns to the bell platform, where a tiny Perspex cabin is anchored among the bells like the control centre of some grim war machine. Inside is a sort of wooden organ with pedals, played with the feet, and oak levers struck with balled fists. The carillonneur and experimental composer Charlemagne Palestine has two small suitcases: in one, two video cameras, a bottle of whiskey, two glasses and a towel; in the other, the stuffed ‘animal divinities’ that attend all his performances. The whiskey is to be consumed during the performance and Transmediale have provided a bottle of Rémy Martin, which Palestine will drink before. These are the trappings of ‘Charleworld’, the semi-sacred environment Palestine builds around each of his performances, a secular cosmogony which draws on rituals from the world cultures Palestine steeped himself in 1960s New York.
At 7.00pm, a laser rainbow is beamed like a holodeck between two spaceships: the oyster-like flying saucer of the HKW and the antenna of the rocket-shaped TV Tower at Alexanderplatz (a work by Yvette Mattern, titled One to Many, 2010).