A Taqwacore Call to Prayer

A couple of years ago, I was at a conference in Berlin, Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation. The last speaker was this trans woman punk from Italy, whose proposal for some kind of anarchist feminist utopia included slamming Islam and conflating it with terrorism.

This was followed by question time, which was kinda awkward ’cos everyone heard what she said and I was sitting there cursing and fucking under my breath. So I got up and returned the slamming. To which she replied with, “Oh, I was talking about ISIS, not all Muslims.” More muttering from me to those I was sitting with, “Nah, you said Islam, we all heard you, we know what you mean, and I’m not touching that reply of yours.”

After the conference, a friend of Ms. V.’s came up to me, he said, “Have you seen The Taqwacores?”

It’s the last Friday of Ramadan. A month ago I had no intention of doing this. The Friday evening before Ramadan started, I had a chat with myself, something like, “Just do the first day, you don’t have to do the whole month, just the first day.” “Awww but Sahūr, Frances, it’s at 230am, and Iftar’s at 930pm.” “Ok, so just have breakfast when you usually do, and then go till İftar.” “But that’s not Ramadan.” Can you hear me whining? I was whining. “You do what you can, that’s all. If that’s what you can do, even if only for one day, that’s what you do for that one day.” “But—” “Just one day, babe, just the first day, just for your Gran, that’s all.”

One day turned into another, into a week, into two, into a month. And here I am at the last Friday of Ramadan. Still here, still doing what I can.

This isn’t a post about why I do Ramadan, or how I do or don’t justify not doing it strictly — which for some is the same as not doing it at all. I know why I do it, just as we all have our personal reasons for doing it. I know who I am and where I come from.

Islam is a fucking surrender.
That’s it.
Knowing that you don’t run the show, staying mindful of it in everything you do.
Take your hands off the wheel. See how it feels.
Islam isn’t about ayats and hadiths, and niches, and lamps.
It’s about us. All of us.
Allah’s too big and too open for my Islam to be small and closed.
I’m so Muslim. I am so Muslim.
I can say fuck Islam.
You know Imam Husain said,
“He has no religion, let him at least be free in his present life.”
Let’s pray.


BANDEN! Festival Bike Caravan

In Oldenburg for the première of Das Helmi’s collaboration with Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, the “progessive feminist science-fiction soft-porno project” Gullivera’s Reise (and repeatedly realising I should have gone: London, train to Brussels, night in Brussels, train to Oldenburg, and not London, fly to Berlin, arrive at midnight, get a morning lift to Bremen, train to Oldenburg, arrive half an hour before the show). It was most excellent seeing the Helmi mob (including Dasniya Sommer and Solene Garnier) once again — the company I’ve seen more than any other.

Friday night was the second and last of this season, in the BANDEN! Festival, and after we joined the throng in the parking lot of Exerzierhalle for food and beer. And there was this bicycle caravan thing, delivering people from one party to the next. This thing was riding around Oldenburg at night like a deranged dragon pirate ship. I saw some mad good bikes in Oldenburg.


Field Series 1

Me messing around with mediæval art, Photoshopping it until it’s far from the 3/4 of a millennium ago of its origin. It started as a visit to the Gemäldegalerie when I decided to do closeups of some of my favourite works. This is part of the Altarretabel in drei Abteilung mit dem Gnadenstuhl, from after 1250. Last night, feeling unexpectedly inspired around midnight, I realised I could mash another few score of layers into an image I was working on six months ago, and increase the density in ways that somehow appeal to my brain and eyes and emotions. I always zoom in on these images, like there’s myriad possible paintings in each. This time I took screenshots of those, and wanting to know what they might look like animated, threw them into Final Cut X and spat out 48 seconds of video.

I was asking myself if this is art. I know art and make art, but still. Maybe they’re sketches of possibilities. I like the artefacts generated from the process. I have no control over this. I have some control in which direction to push an image, but a lot of the detail is only minimally editable. Things happen, I make decisions, other things happen, possibilities open and close, I try and steer it towards a particular satisfaction, but each individual line and gradient and tone, no, that’s the software making its own decisions based on what I ask it to do. And as always, the further I get from using software as it was intended, the more interesting it becomes to me.


Black Metal 1: Wiesenburg Halle Residency Showing Video

And here’s the video from the showing of Black Metal at Wiesenburg Halle on Sunday, April 24th. 33 minutes of bedroom metal idiocy plus mediæval chick music (that’d be Hildegard von Bingen).

I haven’t actually watched this all yet, just a quick cleanup edit (it was a showing, a bit of start-stop) – and thank you Dasniya Sommer for pointing camera very nicely at my highjinks. I tend to video most of what I do when I’m working, so I can be my own choreographer / director, and in the context of my residency in Wiesenburg Halle, this was just another day and first attempt at stringing everything together plus having a few people watching. Some of it I like; some of it I’m ambivalent about – writing through the whole thing is for another post.

Music-wise, yes, that’s Burzum; yes, he’s a white shit fucking Nazi. Other music was Gorgoroth, curiously not with Gaahl on vocals, as he is somewhat a primary part of this piece and his solo work, Trelldom has been fully thrashed while I was in Wiesenburg. More Gaahl; less Varg. And yeah, a conversation about black metal and Nazi fuckery is one I am both having with myself and putting aside. Also Sunn O))). And at the end, Hildegard von Bingen, who is metal as hell. Which is to say, the audio is a semi-placeholder.

Anyway, enough bollocks. Here’s the video of me, black metal bedroom. (It’s  462mb, so prolly not a good idea to slay it on your mobile phone or crap internet.)

Also: Again thanks to Dasniya Sommer for video and a huge number of other things; Sarah-Jane Norman for metalicity; Charlotte Pistorius for make-up, costume, and other assistance; David Young for art & theatre discussions; and Isabelle Schad & Wiesen 55 e.V. for providing my residency in Wiesenburg Hallen.


28 Seconds of Isabelle Unfolding Process / Kids in Düsseldorf

A very short bit of Isabelle Schad’s An Unfolding Process / Kids from Tanzhaus NRW in Düsseldorf last weekend. The kids in the audience were the best ever.


Jennifer Evans — Colours of Bruises

Jennifer Evans’ Colours of Bruises video is up on Vimeo! In March this year I was assisting Dasniya and Jenn on the shoot in Alte Kantine Wedding. There’s been so much going on this year it really feels like much longer ago than just March this year, and that it was another project in Alte Kantine Wedding, where I seem to be perpetually.

So, along with uploading the video here in all its messy tying and anarchic shibari glory, I can also show the photos from those two days of shooting: Colours of Bruises Film Shoot Day 1 and Colours of Bruises Film Shoot Day 2.

Congratulations also to Jenn and all involved!

First single taken from “Works From The Dip & Foul” out in Ireland on 14th November 2014 on Delphi Label. //

Thanks and dedication to the late Lydia Evans-Lloyd and the late David Lloyd.

Concept, music: Jennifer Evans
Artistic direction: Dasniya Sommer, Jennifer Evans
Performance: Jennifer Evans, Emily Aoibheann
DP, grip, light, edit: Valquire Veljkovic

Choreography, rope installation: Dasniya Sommer
Technical rope and performance assistant: Frances d’Ath
2nd camera: Nata Failde
Set and decoration assistant: Isabel Simões

Filmed March 2014 at Alte Kantine Wedding, Berlin.

Thanks to Alte Kantine Wedding, Alexis Vokos, Camille Boostrom, Adrien Merigeau, Anna Fiedler & Michelle Baard


Eine choreografische LeseVerbindung

Late-2012, I helped Dasniya and Hartmut Fischer with the video for their performance, Die Liebe und ihr Gegenteil oder Mädchenmörder Brunke – Eine choreografische LeseVerbindung. Some of this was collecting their own video of rehearsals, some was joining them on trips around Berlin by ferry or Ring-Bahn, and some was cutting it all together. The performance happened first in Tübingen at Club Voltaire, then again in a different form in Berlin at the Club der polnischen Versager. Hartmut had the unpublished manuscripts of Thomas Brasch, a Jewish Berlin playwright, writer, and director, which are what appear tied up and suspended in the middle part of the video. The first part is Dasniya and Hartmut organising the papers, which arrived as an unsorted mass in an old suitcase. The third part, on the Spree ferry goes past where Brasch used to live in Mitte when it was East Berlin. Finally, we three went on a ride on the S-Bahn, arriving at Ostkreuz just as the sun was setting. It’s not an especially spectacular piece of video, but it does represent – or document – a period of my life in Berlin, as well as parts of the city of Berlin itself. Mostly it’s silent.




Elton John Drifting

Wednesday night I just wanted to lie on the floor and eat comfort food; I ended up watching drifting videos and listening to Elton John. At the same time. Bloody brilliant.

The drifting bit is easy. I’ve had a long, long, quiet love affair with things that go fast. It’s good I don’t have a driver’s license, because as far as I’m concerned, the correct speed to do things at is as fast as whatever I’m in will go, and considering how I ride a bicycle … imagine if I could go eight times as fast just by pointing my foot. Yes, supernaut is a bit of a revhead, a petrolhead. I blame my dad, who’d been a mechanic and I have a distinct memories of him doing dirty work with a gas axe, racks of tools, and a mushroom of blood oozing from his thumb knuckle.

After I graduated, I went through a phase of watching top fuel drag racing, and in the intervening years have flirted with my probably greatest love, rally driving (and yes, I fucking love the WRX). Some time in the last couple of years, in truth when I went on a Vin Diesel bender and romped my way through Fast and Furious, I went all hoon again. And living in Germany with the glorious Nürburgring, the Green Hell, the Nordschleife, I’m blessed, being well-fond of that particular style of racing.

Anyway, drifting. Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift was a horrible, horrible film. But it was my introduction to throwing a car hard into a corner until the back end cuts loose in a cloud of spinning rear wheel smoke while generally pointing the front wheels where you’d like to go. Sideways. Definitely not my favourite form of racing (that’d be aforementioned rally, or 24h Nürburg), but one that I’m quite gratuitously partial to, especially of the Gymkhana variety.

As for Elton John. Ah, bad TV is to blame there. I watched Almost Human. The episode which ends with the two future-cops singing along to Benny and the Jets. And there I was lying on the floor, Dasniya beside me, and I decided that Elton John was exactly what I wanted to listen to, and drifting vids exactly what I wanted to watch. Dasniya was mesmerised, “What is that?” It’s drifting! With Elton John! And when I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues came on just as I started to watch Ken Block’s Gymkhana 6 – The 100% GoPro Edition! it was so sublime I had to blog it.


Noblisse Oblige — Mata Hari

From November last year, when I met Valquire, and Valerie and Sebastian from Noblisse Oblige and choreographed for their music video. I’ve had this for a while and seeing I’m doing an afternoon of non-work in front of screen, thought it was about time I put it here.

Music and lyrics written by Valerie Renay, Sebastian Lee Philipp
Mata Hari appears on the Noblesse Oblige Album Affair of the Heart