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26.04.2012 INTERVIEW

A Curtain of HAIR

At last years Venice Biennale British artist duo Tim Noble & Sue Webster created an abstract visual work based only on hair located on Japanese psych-rock band Bo Ningen, the a/v work HAIR.

The joint concert and animation work will be shown tonight at Charlottenborg where Bo Ningen and Noble & Wester will bathe the room in a sea of black Japanese hair and supersonic noise.

Kopenhagen met Tim Noble & Sue Webster.

AF Louise Steiwer

Can you introduce me to the work HAIR?
Tim Noble: It's this band called Bo Ningen. It's an all boy band that sing only in Japanese - very high pitched Japanese - and I would describe them almost like a Japanese psychedelic band. They're not ironic at all, in fact they're very serious about what they do. We saw them and wanted to work with them, because they have this very long hair. They came around to our place and pieces of their hair was on the floor, and we picked up one and thought it looked like a broken guitar string. We thought it was amazing, so we wanted to use it for an animation. A friend of ours helped us animate the hair and we projected it behind the band and then asked the band to do, like, one song, which lasted for twenty minutes, while this hair animation was going on. So it just opened up very naturally into this piece and was then taken to the Venice Biennale - and from then it's now here…

Apart from Venice this is the only place it's been shown?
Sue Webster: Yeah, when we showed it in Venice it was a spontanious decision. We have a friend of ours, who curate shows outside of the official program in Venice. He's got a fantastic site and we've exhibited there a couple of times in these shows of british art during the Venice Biennale. Trying to give it an extra edge we often fly a local band out. So last year we flow Bo Ningen out, two years before we did a similar project with Scum. After that it somehow became this regular kind of thing.

You have made projects in collaboration with musicians before, right?
Sue Webster: Well, we do listen to a lot of music while working and I guess both of us tried to be in bands before we became succesfull artists. When we were young there were no future in art, but it seemed quite acceptable to be in a band. We kinda fell back on art, really...

So I'm into music and we go watch a lot of gigs. The area which we live in London is Shoredich, so there's a lot of young bands around and right next to our studio does Scum rehears, which is how we met them. I was at a festival put on by Scums manager and I went into this tent and saw Bo Ningen for the first time, and I was just blown away by them. They're so musically competent - one of the guitarists is actually playing the guitar with his teeth. They talk through their music. It's like, have you ever hear a talking guitar? It's just incredible… I was knocked out.

So they came around our place and when they'd let, we kept finding their hair. Visually they've got such an incredible image. Their hair is like curtains which is projecting this rather out fashioned image, I guess, because they look like they should be in the 60's, wearing flamboyant tie-dye clothing, that they make themselves. I just thought, in these days for someone to be so certain about their own personal image and have such confidence to them...

Tim Noble: They actually comes across as both quit modern and sharp, because they're very tight in the way they play and they're very accompliced and obsessed about what they do. You become intoxicated by it's whirling sound. Sometimes during their performance they kinda put their hands out allmost as if they can feel it in the air. They become very cocooned in this sound that they make.

Sue Webster: I did this interview with them for a music paper and the editor really liked it, so she gave us six pages for us to do a project. We naturally took their hair and did hair portraits of them for this paper. 

It then seemed absolutely natural to just animate the hair. It's the most natural thing to just be inspired by what you did last. That's how we work as artists: while you're busy making something this is already forming the next step in the process. That's how I think art should be made. Not by looking at other peoples art, by just by being in the studio and seeing what actually happens naturally from the making process.

Tim Noble: Bo Ningen say that their hair is a tribute to psychedelia, but for us it was just a materiale. It was never really about the significance of hair, it was just a fascinating thing to work with. During the animation we wanted at first to take just one hair and make that, and then it went on to the idea of making a curtain of this really black hair. It was about the kinda contrast between the light and this weird material. We wanted to leave it really raw and basic. It's a not overproduced - in fact it's a very simple work. 

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

Bo Ningen + Tim Noble & Sue Webster: HAIR. Foto: Louise Steiwer.

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