For Good Grief, Charlie Brown! a group exhibition opening at Somerset House on 25 October 2018, Mira Calix, has created a captivating new processed-based performance work. Filmed at the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House in August 2018, it is informed by the depiction of musical notation in Charles M. Schulz’s hugely influential Peanuts comic strips. Calix presents this video artwork, which she has edited with a non-representational, abstracted narrative, and it’s accompanying quadraphonic soundtrack as a sculptural entity.
Schulz drew musical scores as an object that can be manipulated, a motif that profoundly influenced Calix’s understanding of music and her path as an artist. In her new audio-visual work titled, if or unless?,musicians and dancers perform her musical and choreographed score by moving through the space, interventions in the physical and sonic landscapes. Their actions have musical consequences. Calix says: “Schulz really portrayed music as an animated character throughout the Peanuts strips. It was the first time I had seen musical notation fly, bend, be embraced, wrestled with. He made me consider music as an object in time and space.”
if or unless? was originally inspired by a cell, an image of Lucy being held, suspended in a chord. Calix wanted to take that image off the page and turn it into something we could hear and feel. As a child Calix identified most with character, Lucy, as she grew up and became an artist, she soon realised that it was Schroeder that she truly identified with. She saw him embodying the struggle of being an artist – always depicted with his instrument, only wanting to make art, and play music. The score is inspired, like Schroeder, by Beethoven, specifically his Piano Sonata no 4 (Grand Sonata).
The instrumentation of this new audio-visual work consists of 8 musicians, a pair of string quartets, situated some distance apart play out the narrative tensions between the characters, and the sculptural attributes of sound. Dressed in block colours, they equate to Lucy, Snoopy and Woodstock (Schroeder’s distractions from his art). All but the cellos, who depict a rooted Schroeder, move on a free trajectory, pulling and pushing from this central force. The interplay between the musicians and dancers, whom Calix has dressed to represent the score as an object, intervene in the musicians pathway: the work illustrates both the physicality of music and the relationships between characters in the strip. All the performers movements drive the work, their actions and positions within the gallery have musical consequences, representing the obsessive streak of the artist. The score itself takes both an graphic and instructional form.
Good Grief, Charlie Brown! explores the impact of comic strip on the contemporary cultural landscape, uncovering the social, political and philosophical complexities told through the four-panel comic strip that have spoken to scores of artists and designers in their own work.
Artist: Mira Calix
by beings in two places @ once
Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art
6th-22nd October 2017
mixed media installation
sound/HD video/photographs/printed material
Mira Calix's beings in two places at once is an evolving mixed media installation exploring our simultaneous occupation of both physical and non-physical landscapes and preoccupations with societal networks.
6th January 2017
34 000 live viewers
additional 5000 viewer over the following 48 hours
134 000 reach
Mira Calix presents We Portal. A series of live stream evenings of music, performance art, dance and literature. In a world accentuating the 'I', Calix wants to emphasise the ‘We' creating a space to showcase artists with a wide range of artistic practice in a simple and egalitarian manner.
The launch was streamed live from the Warp Records/Bleep HQ in London on Friday 6 January lasting approximately 3.5 hours. Mira invited a group of 15 artists to create brief performances lasting between 5 and 15 minutes. Broadcasting the action from the confines of the very bijoux Warp Offices ladies loo.
Although live streams have today become regular affairs, it is the interdisciplinary nature of Calix’s We Portal that sets it aside from other online platforms. Calix has created an intimate space, both virtually and physically, for experimental performance. Her ambition is share and facilitate the discovery of artists and potentially even art-forms with an interactive international audience. We Portal is carefully curated mixture of live presentations encompassing contemporary dance, performance art, electronic and contemporary classical music. This multidisciplinary and collaborative approach is central to Calix’s practice and lies at the heart of her new Portal projects.
The We Portal live stream launch was broadcast on both the Mira Calix and Warp Records Facebook pages with 34 000 viewers and a reach of 134 000. The broadcast, approximately 3.5 hours long, is archived and remains available online.
Luke J Murray (Warp/Bleep Dj)
Amelia Philips (Warp/Bleep Dj)
Susan Browning (dancer)
Margot Didsbury (Warp/Bleep Dj)
Mathew de Kersaint giradeau
Mira Calix and Esmeralda Conde Ruiz
Theo Seffusati (Warp/Bleep Dj)
Mira Calix and Daniel Pioro
Mathew Baker Warp/Bleep Dj)
The title is inspired by an episode of Look Around You
Rose D’or winning and BAFTA nominated comedy series for BBC2.
written, produced and featuring Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz.
The front page headlines for the accompanying video were taken from British Newspaper's published betweenJuly 2016 and 2017. I chose these headlines deliberately for the lack of specificity and resonance across a global landscape of political and social upheaval.