By Frankie Martin and Berglind Tomasdottir. 2011
In their collaborative sound and video work, Flute and Red Nails, Frankie Martin and Berglind Tomasdottir explore the compositional and sonic limitations of the flute. Employing a new extended technique, Tomasdottir improvised a variety of different sounds on the instrument, including kissing, scratching, tapping and sliding red nails on a variety of flutes, and creating so-called whistle tones – made by blowing gently into the mouth hole. Martin later reformed the composition while editing the video, splicing in different improvised sections throughout and creating a new piece from the components performed during the original shoot. Beyond simply critiquing the nature of flute composition, Martin and Tomasdottir’s collaboration examines the gender dynamics at play in contemporary music, particularly with regard to the roles of performer and composer. Martin and Tomasdottir’s exploration of the female position in contemporary music performance and composition employs tropes of feminine beauty in order to reclaim something particularly gendered as a symbol of femininity. Playing into current debates over the status of feminism, particularly those surrounding post-feminism, anti-feminism and the third wave, this explicit choice to make use of the gendered status of cosmetics allows these women to secure the position of the female composer and performer evoked by the explicit requirement for red nails on flutes. (text by Emily Goodman)
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