Welcome to Down Time: a new fortnightly series in which we ask our favourite artists for their cultural recommendations. Anything – but music.
Last year, we tapped the Salon des Amateurs resident Vladimir Ivkovic for a Selections playlist. Clocking in at over four hours – and with a Steve Reich Ensemble piece embedded within – we were impressed, to say the least. And so who better to have on board than the Yugoslavia-born DJ to guest curate our first edition of Down Time?
Along with fellow Düsseldorf DJs – namely Lena Willikens, Tolouse Low Trax and Jan Schulte – Ivkovic is known for pinning the small dance floor of Salon des Amateurs to the electronic map for dance music enthusiasts. There, in the German space, experimentalism, oddball selections and an explorative approach to music is par for the course.
His slightly off-beam outlook was cemented early on. Ivkovic was raised in Belgrade where, as a teen, he’d attend raves at 20/44: a base on the Sava River that held a similarly experimental approach to music. Both clubs are reflective of Ivkovic’s philosophical ethos and artful style.
We wanted to know what an expert curator like Ivkovic would read or watch in his down time. If you’re staying in for the weekend, and looking for a cultural fix to stave off the cabin fever, tap into Ivkovic’s cultural picks below.
FOR THE VOICEBy Vladimir Mayakovsky and El Lissitzky
For the Voice consists of 13 of Mayakovsky’s most popular poems that were meant to be read aloud to large audiences. From 1917 onwards, Mayakovsky and several other artists were determined to create new, free, popular forms of artistic life. In 1923, Mayakovsky worked with El Lissitzky, who contributed to the visual equivalents of the poems along with the book’s design.
Guided by the belief that the most effective means of conveying a message was through the modern methods of typography, and convinced of the need to create a style in which art and the word would be intertwined, Lissitzky committed himself to the cause:
“The book is created with the resources of the compositor’s type-case alone,” Lissitzky wrote. “The possibilities of two-colour printing (overlays, crosshatching and so on) have been exploited to the full. My pages stand in much of the same relationship to the poems as an accompanying piano to a violin. Just as the poet in his poems unites concept and sound, I have tried to create an equivalent unity using the poem and typography.”
I was so happy to find the facsimile of the 1923 edition at Donlon Books in London. The Doyosha edition published in May 2018 may give you some hints of where things went wrong in the following years, and are still wrong today.
SELECTED STORIESBy Daniil Harms
Another important figure in my life, Harms was an early Soviet-era surrealist and absurdist poet, writer and dramatist. Here’s an website with some selected stories, which seem to be from 2001, but which I discovered recently when I was looking for books with decent English translations for a friend. There is some biographical information too, and maybe, dear reader, a beginning of a nice journey.
NEW DARK AGEBy James Bridle
Recently also discovered at Donlon Books, this book was a nice companion in the last weeks. If you ever wondered how to come to terms with technological complexity, here you’ll find plenty of dark clouds and examples to worry about. But this is not about techno pessimism. It’s a brilliant study that calls for true literacy in systems. If we do not understand how complex technologies interconnect, and how systems of systems interact, then we are powerless within them, and their potential is more easily captured by selfish elites and inhuman corporations. Passages about “automation bias” made me think of Robert McNamara, but that’s another story. There is plenty more, and as written time ago: “Die in action or die in apathy.”