FLOW CHART CABARET CINEMA: A NIGHT OF NEO BENSHI

Still from  Out of the Past  (1947), directed by Mitchum Greer

Still from Out of the Past (1947), directed by Mitchum Greer

Friday, April 5th, 2019

Hudson Hall

327 Warren St.
Hudson, NY 12534


Tickets: $15

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The Flow Chart Foundation is partnering with Hudson Hall to present its first public offering: Flow Chart Cabaret Cinema: A Night of Neo-Benshi. Benshi were highly regarded performers in Japan and Korea who narrated silent films to audiences in movie theaters. Going beyond merely providing the dialogue, they offered contexts for the films, and would even do things like recite poetry over purely pictoral sequences. The performance form known as Neo-Benshi (also called “cabaret cinema”) removes the sound from modern films or TV shows so that poets and other artists can narrate them live with newly created texts. Think John Ashbery meets “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” An array of neo-benshi word artists, including poets Anselm Berrigan, Shanekia McIntosh, Joan Retallack, and Jasmine Dreame Wagner, along with artist Carolee Schneemann (awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2017 Venice Biennale), perform in front of Hudson Hall’s giant projection screen, emceed by Jeffrey Lependorf, The Flow Chart Foundation’s executive director.

Flow Chart Cabaret Cinema: A Night of New-Benshi is offered as a love letter to John Ashbery. He himself was a great fan of Mad Movies with the L.A. Connection, a TV show in which the comedy troupe would spoof classic films by overdubbing new dialogue. He was so fond of one of them, based on a Vincent Price movie, that he memorized lines to quote for friends. In his early years, he loved the 1930s and 40s radio shows such as “Vic and Sade,” which featured fast-paced linguistic fireworks, becoming fascinated with the magic of language, a lifelong obsession fueled in later years by comedy groups such as Firesign Theatre and comedian Barry Humphries’ character Dame Edna Everage. Experiencing “neo-benshi” today provides a window into the kinds of inter-artistic dialogue and sense of play that pervades Ashbery’s work.

Jeffrey Lependorf, The Flow Chart Foundation’s Executive Director says, “We’re excited to present this night of Ashberian creativity and mischief with Hudson Hall. There’s no doubt John would have loved it, and I like to think this might be the perfect ‘gateway drug’ for future fans to explore his work.”

The participating artists will be taking a variety of approaches, and the film clips run the gamut from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” to the hippie commune classic “The Hitchhikers.” Featured artists for the night include:

Anselm Berrigan is a poet, editor, and teacher. He's the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Something for Everybody (Wave Books, 2018), and Come In Alone (Wave, 2016). He is the poetry editor for The Brooklyn Rail, and edited What Is Poetry? Just Kidding, I Know You Know: Interviews from The Poetry Project Newsletter 1983-2009. He is also co-chair, Writing at Bard College's interdisciplinary summer MFA program.

Shanekia McIntosh is a writer and educator born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. McIntosh has performed and exhibited her writing at the New Museum, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s TBA Festival, September Gallery, and  Basilica Hudson, amongst other places. Her writing has been published in Apogee Journal, The Tenth Magazine and Dossier Journal. McIntosh has programmed for a variety of art spaces and educational institutions. She is the co-founder of Free Range, an artist-led black queer performance night, and works as the Youth Services and Programs Assistant at Hudson Area Library in Hudson, NY where she is based.

Poet and essayist Joan Retallack's books include The Poethical Wager, How To Do Things With Words, Memnoir, and Procedural Elegies / Western Civ Cont’d — an Artforum best book of 2010. Her most recent book, The Supposium: Thought Experiments & Poethical Play in Difficult Times, had an October multimedia launch in Manhattan at The Kitchen. Retallack has written extensively on John Cage and Gertrude Stein. She has been dramaturg and/or performer in a number of Cage productions and — at Hudson Hall in 2017 — dramaturg for an experimental staging of The Mother of Us All with director R.B. Schlather.

As one of the most influential artists of the second part of the 20th century, Carolee Schneemann’s pioneering investigations into subjectivity, the social construction of the female body, and the cultural biases of art history have had significant influence on subsequent generations of artists. She was awarded the Golden Lion Award For Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2017. In the same year, her first comprehensive retrospective traveled from the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg, to the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art — and then to MoMA PS1 in New York, where it opened in October. Uncollected Texts, a compilation of her writings, was released in February, 2018.

Jasmine Dreame Wagner is an American writer, artist, and musician. She is the author of On a Clear Day (Ahsahta Press), a collection of lyric essays and poems deemed "a capacious book of traveller's observations, cultural criticism, and quarter-life-crisis notes" by Stephanie Burt in The New Yorker and "a radical cultural anthropology of the wild time we're living in" by Iris Cushing at Hyperallergic. She is also the author of Rings (Kelsey Street Press) and six chapbooks. Wagner's work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Beloit Poetry Journal, Colorado Review, Fence, and Guernica.