Philip Venables Answer Machine Tape, 1987
Philip Venables’s music was a highlight of the Festival d’Automne in 2021. Following three original events—an installation at Église Saint-Eustache, and two concerts, Talking Music and 4.48 Psychosis—he brings to the 2022 edition a new band and video work for pianist Zubin Kanga.
Answer Machine Tape, 1987 refers to David Woznarowicz’s work and the turbulent times before his close friend, artist Peter Hujar, died of AIDS in 1987. The voicemail Wojnarowicz received in the days following his friend’s passing, which he saved, are the cornerstone of this work. Hujar, as well as other artists, friends, and lovers, feature in these messages. This remarkable archive of snapshots highlights the peculiarities of queer life in the city and the life of an artist hit hard by AIDS. Specially designed sensors turn the piano into a giant typewriter. The pianist attempts to show transcripts and comments of the voicemail on the screen. This oblique, poignant work takes a hard look at the AIDS years; it is an attempt at transcription, foiled by words’ failure to convey our feelings. Answer Machine Tape, 1987is a new work for piano, band, and video, designed by Philip Venables and created in collaboration with playwright Ted Huffman and pianist Zubin Kanga. This work, Venables's first large solo piano piece, is the continuation of his collaboration with Huffman on queer life stories.
Answer Machine Tape, 1987 (2022)
Creation for solo piano, with tape and text projection
Zubin Kanga, piano
Answer Machine Tape, 1987 is based on a concept developed in collaboration with Ted Huffman
Software programming, Simon Hendry
Commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK); Time of Music (Finland); November Music (Netherlands); Festival d'Automne à Paris; Zubin Kanga as part of Cyborg Soloists, with the support of UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and Royal Holloway, University of London
Answer Machine Tape, 1987 was premiered by Zubin Kanga on July 8, 2022 at the Time of Music (Musiikin aika) festival, Viitasaari, Finland
With the support of the Sounds Now network, funded by the European Union's Creative Europe program
In partnership with SACEM, Friends of the French Institute of the United Kingdom, French Institute of the United Kingdom, British Council, Centre National de la Musique, Creative Scotland and the Salabert Foundation
With the support of Diaphonique, Franco-British fund for contemporary music
Co-produced by Théâtre de la Ville - Paris, Festival d'Automne à Paris
The Estate of David Wojnarowicz, together with the Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York have given permission for the recordings and texts to be included in this work.
With sincere thanks to the Estate of David Wojnarowicz for permission to work with this intimate material.
Thanks to Anneliis Beadnell at the P.P.O.W. Gallery for her help in dealing with the Estate.
Thanks to Marcelo Gabriel Yanez for his collaboration in researching and transcribing the recordings, and to Nicholas Martin at the Fales Library for his help with the archives.