CIRCA Projects is pleased to present an evening of new performance and music in response to works by concrete and sound poet Bob Cobbing (1920-2002). The evening is co-curated with Rhodri Davies, and is part of Bob Jubilé: a year long series of events and displays devoted to the career and legacy of Bob Cobbing, organised by William Cobbing and Rosie Cooper. ‘Gig’ is the second in a series of events held by CIRCA Projects that celebrates the social space of the bar.
Often manipulating the bodily aspect of language through live performance, for Cobbing, language had a life, a finite material presence – mutating as it decomposed. In his work, the gravel of the human voice stretches and tears across fragmented words; the larynx, the tongue and tonsils, which produce sound, take on a presence. Many of Cobbing’s printed ‘scores’ for performances were abstract blobs, typographic experiments and dismantled sheets of found text, photocopied into obscurity. No formal musical notation, these scores were read aloud subjectively by Cobbing: a score because he said so.
Drawing upon these scores, CIRCA Projects and Bob Jubilé present an evening of performances by a variety of people: Hugh Metcalfe, a collaborator who knew Bob Cobbing well, Rhodri Davies, who saw Bob perform many times, and the Noize Choir, who did not know him at all.
‘GIG’ takes its title from a 1997 collection of Cobbing’s work, published under his prolific imprint Writers Forum. The evening honours the informal gatherings that he continued to organise and perform at, until his death. Taking place in pubs and social clubs across North London, the evenings featured film, music, poetry and workshops. They continued the intense energy that characterised Cobbing’s early career as a prolific publisher and organiser, setting up the London Filmmaker’s Co-op, and establishing Better Books as one of the leading avant-garde performance spaces of 1960s London.
Hugh Metcalfe is an artist and filmmaker, who used to run The Klinker, a music and performance night where he and Cobbing performed together on many occasions. Metcalfe plays various instruments including the gas mask, and has been in numerous music collectives including Fuck Off Batman, Bicycle Clip Sex and Birdyak with Bob Cobbing, saxophonist Lol Coxhill and poet/performer Jennifer Pike. Improvisation is central to everything he does: in five decades of performing live, he has almost never played the same thing twice.
Noize Choir is a performance ensemble that was formed in 2011 by Newcastle based artists Lindsay Duncanson and Marek Gabrys. It involves a loose collective of noise enthusiasts with a common desire to use the human voice free of the traditional restraints of typical choral settings, language or musical notation. Their work is based on a shared fascination with science, culture and landscape. They indulge in phenomenological explorations of museum collections, or imaginings of our geological past. Replicating and experimenting with the sound of machines or the natural world, Noize Choir continually find ways to push and pull the idea of what a choir can be. Noize Choir have composed and performed in French churches and on Austrian radio, at the Baltic Centre for contemporary arts, The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle Upon Tyne, and the Grade II listed Preston Bus station, to name but a few.
Rhodri Davies plays harp, electric harp, live-electronics and builds wind, water, ice, dry ice and fire harp installations. He has released four solo albums, and regular groups include: a duo with John Butcher, a trio with David Toop and Lee Patterson, Cranc, HEN OGLEDD: Dawson – Davies, Common Objects, and a trio with John Tilbury and Michael Duch. He has collaborated with artists Gustav Metzger, Fiona Maclaren, Benedict Drew, Joan Key, Ben Patterson and Philip Corner. He is a big fan of Concrete and Sound Poetry and the music of Sun Ra.
St Peter’s Social Club (est. 1756), like many others across the country, was initially a philanthropic venture. Individuals in the local community grouped together, purchased land and commissioned the social club building: giving the club an autonomy that safeguarded its long-term success. Liberal Party clubs such as this one were an important part of the working mens club movement of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Although many of these clubs have now lost their political message, at one point they were radical, about positive social change and equality through education. These messages were carried within the clubs person to person.
GIG was kindly supported by Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts, Henry Moore Foundation and The Estate of Barry Flanagan and produced in partnership with Bob Jubilé.