I wake up; open my eyes and I just know that I have done something. My thought process changes a bit and I feel a migraine coming on. I know that I have done something, but not what I have done.Then I have a migraine for 5-6 hours, because of the exhaustion.
Excerpt from interview with the “Sleep artist” Lee Hadwin
“By hook or by crook, I hope that you will posses yourself of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”
Virginia Woolf, 1928, excerpt from A Room of One’s Own
“..it is very hard to always be very strong, but I try to do it, and to have a lot of courage and faith. It is not that I am doing the right thing; I am doing the only thing I can do. There is no other way I can do my work. I cannot think about what will happen and who will see it and what will they think? I can only do what my heart says, because if I lie… I cannot lie. The artwork will not let me lie. I think it is beyond me, really, beyond me as a person and as an artist.”
“To be able to do my work I have to be both male and female. A woman with balls, balls of steel. I had a g-string made of little sparkling silver beads sewn onto my futuristic silver suit with massive shoulder pads like a silver platter, like a man.”
In your video Mitzvah Tantz from 2005, we see a Jewish ceremony intersected with video footage of your belly-dance followed by flashes of an Arabic belly dancer towards the end. Mitzvah Tantz means ‘mitzvah dance’ or ‘commandment dance’ and this is the tradition of the men dancing before the bride on the wedding night, after the wedding has taken place.
There is an air of you struggling towards something, your mind appears to be slightly bothered and interfering with the movement of your body as your eyes stare thoughtfully into space, possibly watching the video while you are dancing. You are lightly dressed in a plain white belly dancing outfit that is designed to evoke desire and passion and to allow the body to move freely without restriction.
How did you learn belly dancing, did you teach yourself or did you study?
Well I knew for a long time that I wanted to learn belly dancing and I don’t know what comes first; my art or my life? Because many times I combine my passions in my art and it is like an excuse to learn something or to go through an experience. I tell myself that it is for the art. For a long time I wanted to make work about belly dancing, but it took me years to feel like I was ready. Belly dancing is very provocative and very erotic. You have to be a woman, you cannot be a girl and I just didn’t feel like I was ready. And then in 2005 for my final year of the BA at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, I was determined I would do it. I studied in various studios, under several teachers, but I studied mainly in Jerusalem at a Centre for Dance called Arabesque. After I made this piece in 2005 I became a belly dancer dancing professionally. I was even on TV with it and I taught it as well. I have the funniest stories of ending up dancing on bars, almost falling over all the bottles. One night I was dancing in front of my art teachers by mistake, but they didn’t recognize me. I fell off the bar and landed straight near their table saying ‘”Hi!” They couldn’t believe their eyes! I also made my own costumes, because I didn’t have money to buy professional ones.
Photo: Stills from Mitzvah Tanz, 2005, All rights reserved
When I became a teacher I developed a certain way of teaching combining contemporary dance with belly dancing and Tantra. It is all about freeing your pelvis; your inner woman and your passions. You really have to be freed and I used to be very tight, very in control all the time and I only let myself go when I made art. So it was very hard for me. Eventually, for the video Mitzvah Tantz, I recorded myself learning. What I show in the video is the process of learning; it is not a great amazing sexy dancer. It is a child learning to walk. It is the clumsy awkward movement; it is the body not doing what the mind wants it to do. It is the lack of control and too much control. I would take out the camera from school, position it in front of me in my room and practice, wearing provisory outfits, like a scarf wrapped around me. When I looked back at it, all those moments when my body didn’t do what I wanted it to do; I loved those specifically. I concentrated only on two movements out of the entire dictionary of dance and I repeated them throughout that whole film.
In Mitzvah Tantz, and with my painting at the time, I wanted to show the moment when a woman stops being innocent, when a woman sees that she is being looked at for the first time. The first time a woman realizes that she has a man’s gaze on her and she blushes. The first time a woman exposes herself to a man. I thought “Where is this innocence?”
‘Concerning the Spiritual In Art’ was published in 1911. In Kandinsky’s theory the artist is the leader capable of inspiring the mass to ascend and advance in the spiritual pyramid of humanity. A few great artists stand tall upon the pyramidion, but if the artist enters a decadent period, the soul will be dragged down to the bottom of the pyramid, where searches for external success pulls the soul in conflicting and destructive directions and silences the spiritual forces.
Viewers of a painting experience the artwork with their 5 senses, but according to Kandinsky, a work of art can also evoke a spiritual effect in which the colour touches the soul itself.
Quote from Introduction
“This all-important spark of inner life today is at present only a spark. Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief, of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game, is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip. Only a feeble light glimmers like a tiny star in a vast gulf of darkness. This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul, when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not a dream, and the gulf of darkness reality. This doubt, and the still harsh tyranny of the materialistic philosophy, divide our soul sharply from that of the Primitives. Our soul rings cracked when we seek to play upon it, as does a costly vase, long buried in the earth, which is found to have a flaw when it is dug up once more. For this reason, the Primitive phase, through which we are now passing, with its temporary similarity of form, can only be of short duration.”
“The reason the Gothic cathedral is so wonderful, is not the stained glass. It’s because it is a wonderful model of a community of artists. Everybody is working on their glass, their carvings, and their floors and it is what you see embodied in this building. He is not even interested in the Christianity and so forth; he is interested in this place for being a place where artisans can come and join and work. There are different varying levels; there is this good carving and the not so good; it doesn’t matter. If you’re an artist you can find a place there. Beautiful! Beautiful idea around the Gothic, which is of course the one that has sort of been shed today. And of course this is the symbol, the idea of Gothic, which made it beautiful to the Bauhaus, which is, I repeat, is lost.”
“I create a picturesque room, by making the invisible visible. My works that appear very dramatic are always also directed to the shady sides and the mental abyss of the human existence, with all their facets: What lies in the secrecy poses questions to me. They address subjects like destruction, pain, violence, horror and chaos. My worldly wisdom is the agitated one in which you cannot breathe.”
CT took a closer look at some of Christian Moeller’s ball pen drawings:
How would you describe the impact these strong personalities have had on your life; did you ever inject bug powder or “sit in your house for days on end staring at the roses in the closet”?
No, not yet. I’ve never stared at the roses in my closet, but maybe I should! I have mainly been inspired by the strong integrity and self-belief in these iconoclasts; they did it their own way, completely untouched by present ideas, restrictions and beliefs. They broke new ground and although there is a small portion of irony in my exhibition of Stained Glass Windows, (a hint towards today’s celebrity culture) I feel that these are the people that deserve praise and honor for the impact they have had on writers, musicians and artists.
Can you give us a detailed description of how the Telepathic Fish parties started?
There is a funny story about Telepathic Fish which is recounted in a couple of books; David Toop’s Ocean of Sound and Simon Reynolds’ Energy Flash. I was 22 and it was a weird point in my life. Having ended a long and very serious relationship I felt completely fresh, new and free, ready to experience everything. I just went along with whatever happened and this was one of those things weird situations that take you down roads.
It started one day at a car boot sale, where I found a keyboard with no power supply or instruction book. I said to the guy ‘Look, I obviously really need that to plug it in and to figure out how it works’. He told me to go to his mate’s house and gave me the number. I really needed the keyboard, so I went to the home of this rasta character with massive dread locks, apparently a dealer, who built his own speakers big as wardrobes. I sat down and took it easy while he was getting along with his routine and then he started talking about how fish was really important in life as a part of Christianity. I was a little white kid who’d only been in London for a couple of years and the situation confused me completely. He started talking about ‘Taking the fish’, meaning that if everyone ‘Took the fish’ it would provide us with a telepathic link which would enable us to understand each other in a profound way. He said ‘Wherever you look, the fish is there. If you look along the lampposts lining the Thames River, there are fish carved into the lampposts. I give the postman a fish.’ When I asked him what he meant, he brought out a bowl of little goldfish and said ‘Stick your tongue out!’ He literally slapped this fish on my tongue and said ‘Just swallow it, don’t chew it. Just swallow it’
So this was the whole thing; if you eat a live fish you have a special connection to everybody. I completely didn’t know what’s going on, but I thought ‘Ok’ and eventually my flat mates wanted to ‘take the fish’ too, so we went back there. The rasta dealer had some good weed and all the rest – it was a cool thing to do back then, when we were all raving and chilling and chilling and raving and raving and chilling and it was just more chilling than raving. We were looking for a good name for a party and decided to call it Telepathic Fish. It didn’t mean anything and it meant everything as well, although I never formed some telepathic link or went on to preach the ‘fish gospel’.