|direction Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolò
dramaturgy Daniela Nicolò
assistant director Jonas Lambelet
sound Enrico Casagrande
video and lights Simona Gallo
with the students of La Manufacture – Haute école des arts de la scène Coline Bardin, Davide Brancato, Estelle Bridet, Arianna Camilli, Azelyne Cartigny, Guillaume Ceppi, Anastasia Fraysse, Aurélien Gschwind, Mathilde Invernon, Agathe Lecomte, Antonin Noël, Martin Reinartz, Elsa Thebault, Gwenaëlle Vaudin, Adèle Viéville
|technical director Ian Lecoultre
production Elisa Bartolucci
a production by La Manufacture – Haute école des arts de la scène with Motus
with the support of MiBACT, Regione Emilia Romagna
Maybe I should just take a walk, with no destination.
The idea of a new start, even without a precise destination, opposed to the requests of “brilliant” performance and hyper-efficiency imposed to the new generations, seems to us like a new way to get back on the table some old-fashioned attitudes, like wasting time and getting on the way, wandering around marginal and unexplored areas to start again – always with some music kicking in the ears!
We choose to give a decidedly musical mark to this new show-collective adventure because music often works as an effective predicting agent of greater changes, with respect to the fateful question which grips new generations at the end of a study course: What next?
Rip it up and start again (which could be a good answer) is also the title of a book by Simon Reynolds, about the musical phenomenon of Post-punk in the beginning of the 80s, the years of a generation which made an extreme, brilliant attempt at a political and artistic resurrection. In this project, we restart from here, especially because the 15 actors were all born in the 90s, when Kurt Cobain sent out his last cry of alarm before committing suicide, confronting the evidence that everything had been absorbed – subsumed – by the “capitalist realism” (Mark Fisher, 2009), describing a “generation whose every move was anticipated, tracked, bought and sold before it had even happened”. Is it really so?
In the aughts, the future we were expecting in the cultural sector has certainly not started, but we rather saw the rise of various forms of “retro-mania”, in the political sector and, once more, in the artistic-musical one: the more or less successful reunions, the cover bands, the coming back of vinyl and cassette tapes, contributed to the creation of a scenario where even the new characters look like a patchwork of previous phenomena. After all, nothing is made from scratch, and references are inevitable when one starts… but, together with the denunciation of a future that has not happened, or that is slowly being shred, it is necessary to ask a question which still stands with no answer: will we continue to live oppressed by nostalgia or does this historical phase carry at its core the desire of the Future shock to imagine irreducibly alien alternatives, even utopic-sci-fi alternatives, to the ruling neoliberalism of the No Alternative?
Because… How long can a culture persist without the new?
What happens if the youngsters are no longer capable of producing surprises? (Mark Fisher)
For the teenagers of the beginning of the eighties (as the directors of this project are…) the Post-punk was the most extreme initiation to culture, or rather to a certain protest culture, a niche culture in its own way, light-years away from the political-protesting movements of the seventies: a dark form of antagonism, without flowers or guns, exploded after the collapse of the Sex Pistols and the perception that the No Future was instilled in us with breast milk, together with growth hormones and antibiotics.
We do not turn nostalgically to this minority movement, as it is absolutely not outdated the viewpoint chosen by the curators of the 2016 conference Post-punk then and now – namely Gavin Butt, Kodvo Eshun and Mark Fisher – the latter has then left everything behind by committing suicide the following year. The core of this symposium seemed to be hyper-optimistic: in those youth movements, still very alive in their esthetics and extremism, virulent germs were looked for, so that they could be an incentive and a support to the pale new generations of today: and this is precisely what we try to realize in this project, without cloning, but rather imagining elsewhere.
In the introduction to the conference, the fact that “culture can be at the same time popular, experimental and intellectually refined” is highlighted. After the nihilistic disappearance of the Sex Pistols, a certain world starts disappearing too, piece by piece: the rising of Thatcherism in the UK and by extension in Europe, as in the USA with Reagan, opens the way to the most deleterious post-fordist neoliberalism, to a form of deceitful lethargic annihilation of the left wing, as to the inexorable shredding and deviation of the working-class towards the right wing.
In the face of the ruling turbo-capitalism, of the illusion of wellness and unlimited growth, and of the disengagement, sweetened by the pleasures of consumption and shopping, Post-punk was the antidote.
Connected to this minority movement, one can identify the origins of a series of fights and claims related to gender, to anti-racism, to cyber-feminism and to polymorphic sexuality which today are somewhat recognized by the opulent West of the alternative mainstream (we need only think of the Queer movement). And yet it is precisely in those years that the most extreme demands started to circulate in all artistic sectors. Those were also the years of a prolific, provocateur and “scandalous” creativity, violently tamed by the introduction on the market of immense quantities of heroin that decimated many heroes and heroines…
We therefore agree with the curators of the conference who affirmed that we are back where we were, given that the spreading of sovereign and xenophobic policies, the increasing work insecurity, the failure of the Occupy movements of the 2010s, the universal branding of countercultures, are shaping a cultural climate that is very close to the situation of the early eighties.
Let’s then look to those years, to the forms of payback in the arts, so that they can be motors of ideas about the Do it yourself! (which is the soul of Post-punk ethics).
Even at that time, the supremacy of goods was not challenged, but it was critically re-read and re-interpreted to intervene on the phases of the productive process itself. The Clash’s slogan was precisely “You can do it too!”. What’s different is that now the web allows this to be actually done everywhere and at zero cost, but in the isolation of one’s bedroom in front of a live web-cam, while back then you had to get out of home, find a dump to meet, rehearse, create a graphic and maybe print out a fanzine… get moving and stand on your own two feet.
And all of this was written in the lyrics of an immense number of bands spread across Europe, many of which stayed strictly out of the market and which are more or less unknown, while others became super stars. Some of these songs are true poetic masterpieces, taking inspiration from many visionary artists of different historical periods.
We are “collecting” these lyrics to analyze and reproduce them, and to write new ones with the students, because Rip it up and start again is a show-concert-karaoke-manifesto, with many video clips (from new and old remixes) which looks at the recent past to have a different gaze on today and maybe, instead of spitting on it, tries to create and unpredictable different scene-movement, which can cause astonishment and encourage to turn up the volume of dissent.