Sep 10, 2014, 6:30PM

Susan Howe and David Grubbs / Paul Thek / Processions (1977)


Organized by Associate Curator Anthony Elms

Susan Howe and David Grubbs 2013

Susan Howe and David Grubbs, performance, 2013. Photo: Bradley Buehring.


Amado Recital Hall, 3401 Spruce Street

Poet Susan Howe and musician/composer David Grubbs perform the most recent work, WOODSLIPPERCOUNTERCLATTER, the fourth of their collaborative performed sound-works.

A tapestry of resonant sounds crafted from voice, piano, and manipulated field recordings, this collaboration grows from a wide bibliography that includes the 2010 exhibition Paul Thek: Diver; Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s writings; nineteenth century texts by Edward Clodd and Robert Browning; The Later Affluence of W.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens by Edward Clarke; Tom Tit Tot; and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, among many other sources. “The bibliography is the medium,” Howe has said in explaining her poems. Finding, cutting, collaging, and weaving together idioms and the distinctiveness of each word generate her tightly clipped syntax-shifting phrasings meant to be understood visually and textually in equal measure. That taut, cleaved process also allows room for chance influences, such as additional material found during Howe’s residency in 2012 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

To the already distinctly angled language of Howe on the page, Grubbs uses his ever attentive ear for aural nuance and fissure to build sound fields abutting, moving through, and enveloping Howe’s recitations.This many layered sound is accomplished by previously recording Howe, manipulating the recordings, and combining both alongside Susan reading in performance. What results is the concrete sounds of a procession leading vested encounters with documents, languages near and far, the sedimentary layers of ink on various papers in hands, and the whirring, resonant sounds of enunciation and exhalation.

David Grubbs first worked alongside Susan Howe in 2005 for Thiefth, made at the behest of the Cartier Foundation, Paris. This and two more works, Souls of the Labadie Tract (2008) and Frolic Architecture (2011), have been recorded and released via Blue Chopsticks.

Special thanks to Al Filreis and Jessica Lowenthal at Kelly Writers House, and Anna Weesner, Music Department, University of Pennsylvania, for their support of this event.
Paul Thek / ProcessionsICA@50: Pleasing Artists And Publics Since 1963ICA@50