Cindy Bernard's Playlist: Music as Self-Empowerment
Music, the Dionysian art form, plays a unique role in establishing one's identity and sense of self-empowerment. And music is particularly significant in the life and career of the Los Angeles artist Cindy Bernard.
Bernard tells us that "as a visual artist who often references sound and music in my practice and as the founding director of SASSAS (The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound), I'm often asked about my early experiences with music."
That is why the selections Bernard made for her "YouTube Curated By" playlist "reflect some very early influences which opened my eyes to the role theater plays in the presentation of music and also contributed to a developing sense of self empowerment - that anything is possible."
In the MOCAtv video below, Bernard shares her personal and artistic relationship to performances ranging from David Bowie and Marianne Faithfull to the Minutemen to Fred Frith and Iva Bittová.
Not included in this video is a clip from Genesis performing The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway at the Shrine in LA in 1975 during their last tour with Peter Gabriel. Bernard tells us:
Memory is selective and distorted so it's revealing to re-experience influences from 40 years ago via YouTube. The Genesis clip was particularly interesting because it's a subjective reconstruction based on a fan's memory of the original performance and uses a recording made for the King Biscuit Flower Hour and photos and film from the Shrine as well as from other stops on the tour.
As for the Bowie/Faithful duet, Bernard says she recalls first seeing it on TV in 1973. And yet, "in researching The 1980 Floor Show, I discovered that it was considered too outre for the time and was never aired as a part of the original broadcast in the United States. You don't see it on this clip but the story is that Marianne's cape was backless and she flashed the audience when she left the stage, maybe that's why it never aired."
We asked Bernard to share her thoughts on the medium that allowed for this clip to be unearthed and shared. Here's what she told us:
One wants to believe that the Internet is a universal library but of course it's not - it's subject to censorship and antiquated ideas about copyright. When I visited my YouTube playlists for this project, I sadly discovered that several clips had disappeared, including the Minutemen clip I'd wanted to use. It was a clip from a Minutemen show that I'd attended at Bebop records in Reseda in 1984. George was on bongos and the backdrop was a wall of Raymond Pettibon drawings. It may be gone from YouTube but it's still available at Vimeo. History Lesson Pt. II is at 27:40. "Our band could be your life" - still gives me chills, in a good way of course.
"I don't often use sound as a medium and I don't think of myself as a sound artist," Bernard tells us. "Rather it enters the work via issues of community, class, economics and politics." For instance, Bernard points to The Inquisitive Musician, which she is presenting at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam for the Holland Festival in June. Bernard tells us The Inquisitive Musician "is based on a 17th century satire about the clash between two classes of musicians - the academic Kunstpfeifer and the self taught vagabond Beerfiddlers - over who has the right to perform and be compensated within city boundaries."
To view the rest of the MOCAtv series, click here.
Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.