Performance at ICC, Antwerp: Exotica, Emergency Solos, Liquid Piece

The video series Emergency Solos (1974/75) presents various actions for a flutist that combine two different environments: the traditional concert world and the domestic, everyday world. Christina Kubisch introduces a number of daily objects (thimbles, a condom, boxing gloves, a gas mask, etc.) onto the stage. All these devices divert the flute from its original function, and as a consequence it seldom makes a sound and serves more as a tool used to create a range of sound effects. This is particularly true for an action called Private Piece, in which the performer holds the head of the flute to her ear, so that only she can hear the sounds made by her body, amplified by the instrument. All the objects being used produce their own sounds in combination with the metallic texture of the flute. In It’s So Touchy, for example, the percussion and friction of ten thimbles on the surface of the flute create a nervous scraping noise, in stark contrast with the sounds conventionally emitted by the instrument. The different objects allow many interpretations and confer a dimension that is both playful and sensual on Kubisch’s musical composition. Traditional conventions of both classical and contemporary concerts are at stake here: Kubisch’s critique focuses on the gestures and behaviors associated with the female figure in the music world, who is often limited to performing, whereas composers are predominantly men. During her performance of a Christmas hymn on the flute in Stille Nacht, she repeatedly removes her shirt, stripping her torso bare. This provocative gesture stresses the erotic evocation that female musicians are often attributed with. Similarly, in Erotica, a condom placed at the end of the flute reveals a certain irony, which is reinforced by the sounds of inflation and deflation the skin of the condom produces. The Emergency Solos have been presented several times all over Europe, and in Antwerp in particular, after the Water Art exhibition that the ICC dedicated to Fabrizio Plessi in 1975. A video recording of the performance was produced for documentation purposes, alongside photographs, drawings, scores, and studio-recorded audio tracks.