Reliant on lacunas – gaps in attention when something unexpected might happen – these etchings demand the kind of haphazard precision that enables you to fuckup in just the right way. Drawing the needle through the wax ground I sometimes think about the first wax cylinder recordings and how sound engraved onto their surface was made audible through the phonograph. Drawing makes a record.
Drawing the zinc plates I’ve been listening to Schubert, Debussy, and Jazz. If I’m feeling robust enough I’ll put on the mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. In the opening aria of Bach’s cantata BWV 82 she sings about acceptance of death, – “Ich habe genug” – I have enough. She sings the phrase twice, expressing repletion, and then weariness.
– Rilke writes of Eurydice, ‘Her deadness was filling her like fullness. Full as a fruit with sweetness and with darkness was she with her great death.’ – (1)
The singer of Bach’s cantata already recognizes – “Die freude jenes lebens“ – The joy of the other life. Wanting this world no longer, she asks, – “Wenn kommt das schone: Nun!” – when will the lovely ‘now!’ come’?
Orpheus was unable to prevent Eurydice from returning to the underworld and his voice, the most beautiful, was set to mourning. Good singers know – and Dave Hickey said it perfectly – ‘that all songs are sad songs, borne as they are on the insubstantial substance of our fleeting breath’. Hunt Lieberson was 52 when she died in 2006 but we are still here, and thanks to recording technology she is still singing, – ‘in the lovely now’.
– ‘She was already loosened like long hair, and given far and wide like fallen rain.’ – (1)
(1) From Rilke’s early poem, ‘Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes’ 1904. Best known for her renditions of Bach and other Baroque composers LHL also performed several Rainer Maria Rilke lyrics set to music by her husband Peter Lieberson.