I’m just back from Berlin where I met up with the composer and artist Chris Newman. Chris lives in Kreuzberg, still a working class district of the city and home to the largest population of Turks outside of Turkey. In other words, it has a number of cultural similarities with Spitalfields and London’s East End (as a working area, a home to immigrant communities etc). He lives on the 6th floor of an apartment block by one of the U-bahn (train) lines, so every minute or so there’s a sound as of a kettle coming to the boil and a slight quivering of the air, which turns out to be another train going past.
He’d mocked up his idea for the exhibition of his canvases and video works in his apartment, which is a huge help in planning how to install it at The Rag Factory. There’s no real substitute for experiencing a piece for understanding how to produce it for a different space and occasion. The aim will be to keep the whole event fluid, so the exhibition will seep into the performance space, and the audience will be able to move between the spaces during the performance.
The event with Chris will be a highlight of the Festival for me – it will not be ‘just another event’. There is nothing mannered or affected about Chris. He lives and dreams in the same space that he works, and everything is material for his imagination, beginning with himself. He’s not a model for Marvel comics, but there is definitely something heroic in his perseverance to strip away anything inessential, to get under the skin of things for a fleeting glimpse of raw treasures. Chris’s work shows us that the hardest thing to be is to be truly oneself.
Acting Festival Producer
Dont miss out on a chance to see Chris Newman in concert:
A two set concert in The Rag Factory. See the Kürbis Ensemble perform Newman’s instrumental and piano music followed by Chris Newman performing his own vivid cabaret-style songs, alongside Michael Finnissy and the premiere of his new cycle Format.
Arrive early to view an exhibition of Chris Newman’s visual art.
Insight: 9.30pm James Weeks in conversation with Chris Newman.
Visit spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk for more information or call our box office on 020 7377 1362