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a story of the sorceresses and the ghost

essay by maxwell williams for Flaunt Magazine

NOTHING AND NO THING, 2012 @ SEASON, Seattle



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What concern is the space between frost and ancient death? We will not say death; it being doubtful that things actually cease to exist! Let me tell you a solitary story, a story of the sorceresses and the ghost—not a completely accurate portrayal, but it will do for now. The setting is an Old New England home; the lore of Salem hangs in the mocking October air—the wind is the song of Lizzie Borden’s wraith. A maiden in the frigid air. Leaves cover the ground, snuffing out the grass, turning it brown, chlorophyll draining from the last semblance of living nature—that chasm again! Life and death. In the Autumnal pallor, there is nothing between frost and death.

The Bathaus is a house, but it is also a heavy, sacred space where mystics gather. It is also the mystics themselves, space becoming whole becoming human, or something not-quite-human, disembodied from physical definition—a daub of paint, unknowing representation. It is a dark and dingy basement cut into a plot of land that possibly, probably, definitely houses some of the ancient’s frost. In this space, cathedrals are erected, spirits are resurrected, and the dark space where humanity becomes something …older… …more primal… is howled into the abyss.

Music is played, in and of itself an antiquity. A ritual. Timeworn sounds fill the basement, but there is something wrong. There is electricity, power beyond belief. Noise and music. Still old, but reborn as something new like the son of the devil.

There is definitely a convergence of past and future in my music. I sample all sorts of olde and ancient sounds—chants, primal screeching, old Western folk and ditty, speeches, interviews, etcetera. My latest album includes interviews of serial killers on death row and their feelings of the afterlife. So much of process involves manipulation via synthesizers and samplers. I’ll never leave these samples ‘raw’ … creating new mood for these sounds. Perhaps then the splicing, layering, underlaying and overlaying these manipulated samples into a rhythmic composition could be futuristic. They’re heard in a new way. – A$h Money (Bathaus)

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A body, which once did not move, rises—now whispers, now a creak, now a gusty silence. Inaudible, too, by the various definitions of sound. The movements are not life; not everything that moves has to be living.

Spasmodic jerks reveal a woman, but not quite a woman—the soul is too old to make distinguishing remarks like that. Footsteps are heard, to and fro, the light of a candle flickers off a cobweb.

DEAD ART STAR rustles, creates its own ritual, completes the ceremony. The candles nearly snuff themselves in the draft which seems to come from nowhere.

A series of Polaroid photographs are laid out in an array—immediacy within them, a current of electricity, the moment there forever, false and true, lines blurred, love and sex and youth and heightened senses and good fortune in miniature size. A tiny world in which the ghosts are boyish/girlish—but a sense of past, a sense of awareness of a timeless youth. A fountain discovered.

There is something named an “isolation convent,” where this is all created—creation being far too sculptural a concept. Buildings are created; DEAD ART STAR illumines the truth that creation is unnecessary, that ideas exist and exist alone.

There was a vision that began it all.

A few years ago, the night of our first party at the Bathaus, I had just finished cleaning up before people started to arrive, and I was sitting in my studio, staring through double doors into the the next room and I had a vision of DEAD ART STAR, an early form of what it was, a figure sitting alone on a chair with a white face. It left me with a strange feeling of clarity, and I knew this was what I was supposed to become.

The performative aspects of DEAD ART STAR are often ritualistic in nature. I use performance as a form of exorcism or cleansing. Objects are used to enact a ritual to encourage a sort of ‘magical’ outcome. Aside from ritual-like performances in galleries, basements, etcetera, I explore the embodiment of the DEAD ART STAR concept through becoming a set of different characters. The Bride was a character I used and killed most recently. A few artifacts will be in the SEASON show—a wig, a veil, and the remains of her wedding dress. The character was explored through a series of loosely-related photo shoots, video shoots, and public performances over a period of several months. This ended with a ‘suicide’ performance, where I shattered her spirit in her mirror. (Can you kill a ghost?) – DEAD ART STAR

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There is a context for all of this, like a secret hiding in the drawer of an escritoire. A silken dressing-gown. A formless noise. But where does it all frame itself? There must be a medium, a translator of ancient languages, someone to greet those in the hereafter, the here, the after. This collaborator must fully understand the “meaningful experience,” the “living magic,” the “communion.” Or else the dust becomes dust, the sanctity is broken, the ancients return to their time. Is rap not just a higher form of speaking? Does it not amplify the sound of the voice? Geography, time/space, and the heightening of senses.

The wind blows through time, rustling the trees of Magzilla’s ancestors. Branches bow but never break. The town is something—the sounds, the performances, the places where the dead are buried. It is Salem, where there are Seven Gables. Where pirates wed witches. Where terrible things happened to make way for the cleansed. And there is a medium, old fashioned and versed in reverie. Able to make contact with the sorceress and the ghost. A sorceress herself.

We are truly living magic. We have magic in our lives, we invite it, we conjure it, we feel fortunate, we believe. Paying respects, being thankful, symbolic actions… …something about, creating your own, sustainable world. Making work with/of/for one another and it somehow working… – Magzilla

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xoxo DEAD ART STAR