The following article was published in N-SPHERE May 2010 issue.


UK Decay returns to Berlin for the first time, some 30 years after their 1981 debut as a semi anniversary show. As it often happens with bands who accumulate a cult following them for one reason or another, the return of UK Decay to the stage has all the proper ingredients for a comeback. Since 2000 interest built up as to what happened to UK Decay. They picked up on the signal. It started with their UK Decay community site that quickly grew as old and new fans volunteered information, clippings and most importantly, support. Finally in 2008 some small local gigs began as they tested the reunification waters. The result? Immediate interest by a reinvigorated audience. Abbo, Eddie, and Spon reciprocated with the same energy, and a new generation of Community began. How relevant is this community?

In 1980, UK Decay expanded from their politicized punk single For My Country and opened the doors to something different in the punk movement, a more theatric and darker element. UK Decay was already a well established band in the London area by the time bands like Bauhaus, Theatre of Hate and Sex Gang Children were refining what would become known as positive punk and, ultimately, gothic.

History lesson aside, UK Decay’s Berlin performance was, as they say, A Night For Celebration. This gig was booked well in advance, and the anticipation was high. As support, local Berliners The Wars and Ulterior from London opened the show. These two bands provided the modernized version of the standard that bands like Joy Division and (indeed) UK Decay, established. Ulterior made a good impression with their guitar driven rough cut electronic rock, where you can hear a mix of Sisters of Mercy and even Placebo. The Wars, intended as the opening band of the evening, switched spots on the bill for some reason or another, but the effect was essentially the same. By the time UK Decay was ready to perform, the full house was twitching in anticipation. Hit the fog machine and the bass rolls in slowly with Unexpected Guest. Like a curtain being drawn back, they establish the atmosphere in an instant. Included in the set were songs from across their entire discography, Unwind, Message Distortion, Stage Struck, Testament and even Werewolf. But the most essential element of their set was the integrity and empathy that these stage veterans shared with the audience: Abbo’s smirk at a specific lyric, or the rapport with the audience as he recalled the photographer from their show in Berlin decades ago.

This is what makes UK Decay’s return a success, in carrying over a legacy. From the instigation of a genre that has spawned millions of fans and thousands of bands, coming full circle to here and now. They did not only retain their original strength, but they brought back even more. THIS is the Twist In The Tale, that is often missed by new and old bands alike, and certainly something that you should not miss next time UK Decay plays in your part of the world.

by Mark Splatter

photo by Diana Daia

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE May 2010 issue.


At the very peak of what one would call the modern cold wave sound is Brooklyn based Xeno & Oaklander. But before purists dissent – there is a genuine French connection. The duo is comprised of American Sean McBride and French-Norwegian Liz Wendelbo. Thus a large part of their lyrics are sung in native French, which sits perfectly on top of their brilliantly executed, and exclusively analog synth wave.

Their 2010 European tour brings them to Berlin after dates in Scotland, England, Ireland, Belgium with their debut album Sentinelle (Weird Records 2009).

Together on tour is Weird Records’ label–mate and fellow Brooklynites, Led Er Est, who fulfill the guitar role for the evening. Their sound is comparable to X&O, with heavy focus on electronic effects, with gouts of guitar washing over the John Carpenter inspired synths – check their songs Scissors or Laredo, or their brilliant cover of Solid State’s A Darkness in My Soul, for example. With this they won me over instantly, despite the keyboard player’s desert explorer outfit! After X&O having such good press in publications like NME, Vice and The Village Voice, this show was highly anticipated for Berlins hardcore minimal fans, wavers and even more diverse factions. The crowd began picking up momentum, but sadly it never escalated any further than a few people’s timid swaying. X&O were the most animated attendees at the show – when they were on stage, belting out Shadow World and the favorite of mine, Vagabond!

The opportunity for Berlin to experience two of America’s best, and this from a very limited selection, wave bands from a modest, but impressive label like Weird should have gotten better response in mainland Europe’s most vibrant music city.

With that in mind, the night was however a success, thanks to the full attendance, albeit a brief one (the sets were unceremoniously short), and a sober one. The audience made haste in vacating shortly after the concert, leaving the bands to pack up for Prague the following day, so the impending after party didn’t happen.

On a final positive note, this was for many the beginning of the spring live show season in Berlin, and the first tour for the independent minimal and wave scene to hit the Hauptstadt since winter last year. This ends a virtual dry–spell of quality artists from abroad hitting Berlin’s hundreds of stages, clearing the path for a dozen upcoming concert tours all with the destination Berlin.

by Mark Splatter

photo by Diana Daia

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE May 2010 issue.


Andrej Zulawsky’s Possession is everything one may want from a love–story or everything one may not want from it, depending on each viewer. It is deliciously unrestrained, psychotic, cruel and barbaric, but, amusingly, it has little to do with the afternoon–meal–lovestory–framework, which is why some may dismiss it, also pointless, depressing, implausible, amateurish even. And, in a certain context, they may be right. However, that context has nothing to do with the movie or its approach. It has something to do with what one may expect some characters or stories to be. We expect breakups to be a certain way because that’s how we saw them in the movies we love, that’s how we like to remember our own ones, or that’s how our friends described theirs (again, the convenience issue). Well, Possession isn’t convenient. It has too little to do with what we were indulged to believe or outburst, but, amusingly, shares more common ground than we expect in relation to the human nature.

Conventional wisdom may state that what we do is important, not what we think. So, if someone thinks of stealing, but ultimately does not do it, that person is not a thief and so forth. Well, this is true when it comes to society, but it is a delusion when it comes to the self, in which case there is no practical difference between a thief outside and a thief inside, since the thief inside may ultimately take control if the individual outside lets his guard down or has a moment of crisis.

In relationships or in breakups we may be gentle or at least non violent on the outside, but what about on the inside? Possession tears the curtain apart. There is no outside in this film, at least not one that we can feel familiar in, there are no masks there and no friends to help us. There is the anger, the silent denial, the bargaining, the despair, there is an entire edifice falling apart piece by piece. And even the slightest comfortable thought is carried away: we can’t even suspect betrayal – not the one we like to talk about – and, no matter how in–your–face it seems, it is something else.

And what about the imagined thief disguised in Romeo? Most of those intimate relationships rely on projection. We project our own vision, our own ideals into the one we think we love as if he/she is a blank screen and everything is fine as long as we can project undisturbed. The irony is that this process of projection is painted in human colors, even if – at least at its heart – it is a mechanical process. We see our partner as an ideal and we have to take the big fall when we realize how far off we were. Some may not know how to take it, so they back away to find comfort somewhere else – like nomads. Some may accept it out of fear, complacency or convenience and only a few are really willing to get to the bottom of it.

In this case, the movie is backing away, on the one hand into a frail illusion and on the other into a demanding process of creation, fleshing out our own ideal. But if we are to think about it, it is the dreamer who needs the dream, not the other way around.

Possession deals with each of those aspects in a brutal and uncompromising manner. It has the intensity of a love–story and enough heart to work for those with the nose for this kind of stuff, but also has enough madness to alienate everyone else. It is a personal film – for better or for worse – meaning that it has a personal film’s intensity and approach and a personal film’s share of flaws as well. However, it avoids, even here, conveniences.

Don’t try to make sense of it, relationships barely make sense beyond certain facts, just follow it, its music and moments of madness, put them all together and observe the result.

That’s it for tonight. Misty dreams, headless children!

Movie still: Possession

by Shade

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE May 2010 issue.


Zürich, 1916. The war is in full swing in Europe, but a group of artists, enjoying the haven of Swiss military neutrality, establish Cabaret Voltaire. It quickly becomes the center stage for the Dada movement, defined as antiart, anti–war, nihilistic and transgressive.

Erase the traces of bourgeois life urged Brecht in 1926 and that is precisely what the Dadaists did. Everything was criticized and demolished, from the colonial perspective, the Enlightenment’s cult of reason to Dada itself. Unsurprisingly perhaps, while living in Zürich, Lenin was a regular of the Cabaret Voltaire. The nihilistic drive of the dadaists proved to be an invaluable example in the orchestration of another major “erasure”: The October Revolution of 1917. The seeds for utopia were planted and the next following decades witnessed a widespread struggle for its realization.

Beijing, 1966. The promise of a new world and the call for revolution had been shaping the Chinese society since Mao Zedong became the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party in 1943. The most printed book in the twentieth century, Quotations from Chairman Mao had laid the foundations for the Cultural Revolution to come. Claiming that the threat of restoring capitalism was growing, Mao called for a re–activation of class struggle and permanent revolution. As propaganda posters advocated, the “erasure” of the old world was crucial, in order to build a new one. Many ancient monuments and artworks were eliminated, the extent of this destruction still being unclear. At the same time, Mao’s Little Red Book, as was known in the West, was widely read and appreciated, especially by young students, disillusioned by the right–wing politics of their countries. But none could foresee the disastrous effects the Cultural Revolution had on Chinese economy and society.

In 1976, when Mao died, the opposing forces within the Communist Party gained momentum and China slowly advanced towards an epoch of reform and “opening–up” towards the West. Cultural Revolution had been abandoned, but what was there to be done when the world had been swept clean?

Xiamen, 1986. The port city of Xiamen, located in southeastern China, was one of the first special economic zones, areas that enjoyed more liberal economic policies than the rest of the country and were especially designed to attract foreign investment. This city, as Zürich had been in 1916 for the Dadaists, became a safe ground for a collective of young Chinese artists. Inspired by the vitality of a new wave of experimental art and by the recent influx of Western art theoretical writings, Xiamen Dada was formed in 1986. It included artists such as Huang Yong Ping, Cha Lixiong, Liu Yiling, Lin Chun and Jiao Yaoming, that would later become one of the leading figures of contemporary Chinese art.

In the climate of developing political dissent and social problems, new sources of inspiration were cited: Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Joseph Beuys, Taoism and Zen Buddhism. On one hand, the Western avant–garde, not yet fully accepted and on the other hand, traditional Chinese culture that had been undermined during the Cultural Revolution offered a suitable background for this subversive, radical collective. Interested in notions such as haphazard, nihilism or absence, they wrote manifestos, organized happenings or burned their previously exhibited artworks.

Their creative ethos is best exemplified in actions such as Huang Yong Ping’s The History of Chinese Painting and the History of Modern Western Art Washed in the Washing Machine for Two Minutes, during which two popular art history books Wang Bomin’s The History of Chinese Painting and Herbert Read’s A Concise History of Modern Painting were transformed into an undistinguishable mass of celulose. Thus, a third erasure was performed, creating a new, clean slate for art practice. Both the millenial tradition of Chinese painting, mutilated by the Cultural Revolution and the recently discovered Western avantgarde art were refused and obliterated in a two–minute washing cycle. But, like any other idealistic attempt at total resistance, it was short–lived.

Epilogue. The brutal repression of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 offered a harsh lesson to that new wave of artists and intellectuals. Cynicism became a prevalent attitude and it’s no wonder that today’s bestselling Chinese contemporary art exports are “cynical realist” works, ironical renditions of propaganda images. A sense of hopelessness and an utter subjection to commercialism have grappeled most of the contemporary art scene. Huang Yong Ping, the leading member of Xiamen Dada now lives and Paris and is courted by private galleries and influential institutions for his monumental, conceptually sophisticated installations. One cannot ignore the question that is immediatedly raised: Is this the logical conclusion of succesive erasures?

Artwork: Designer unknown. ca. 1967. Scatter the old world, build a new world (

by Simina Neagu

Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE may 2010 issue.


Name: Rik Garrett

Location: Chicago, Illinois, US

Occupation: Photographic

Definition of personal sphere: Darkened rooms of all kinds

Artwork in 4 words: Emerging from quiet spaces

What is inspirational for you: People who do things. People who make things. People who have turned normal things into magical things: Ted Serios, William H. Mumler, Austin Osman Spare, William S. Burroughs & Brion Gysin, Genesis P-Orridge, etc. And love.

Currently favourite artists: Hans Bellmer, Pierre Molinier, Yoshifumi Hayashi, Stephen Kasner, Raoul Ubac, Steven Leyba

Tools of trade: 4×5 camera from the 1950s, film. On occasion wet plate collodion process (glass plates, silver nitrate baths, ether, etc.). Sometimes also paint and canvas.

Current obsessions: Alchemy and the mating process of Anglerfish.

Personal temptation: Constantly treading the line between not doing quite enough and taking on far too many gigantic projects at once.

Artwork: Untitled


Full article here.



The following article was published in N-SPHERE May 2010 issue.


Late was the hour the puppeteer was hailed into the room. Adventurous spectrum, thick armor, broad shield, rusty tools of a retired assassin, unlucky friend for hire by the highest bidder. He politely inquired about his long awaited apotheosis, a well deserved finale for services rendered.

“I died under your boot, in mushy smell of blood, while overflowing emptiness marked my end. What will you do now that you got away with justified murder? I cannot guess, beyond the dancing fury in your eyes.” “Murder… A long lost friend. So well covered by the cloak of a perfected smile. Perhaps someday I’ll beg forgiveness of those I have done wrong to. Including you. But not today. Today I wallow into the seeds of haze planted long ago, abandon myself to the strong, deep roots of the crepuscule I adore.” “You do know that you’ll be left stripped of every fantasy you could ever give birth to. Your strings will drain you motionless, until you’ll fade from memory, for I alone could master and control your doom. But as you rose in rebellion, you traded places with those whose corpses you piled up before your throne of dementia. Tell me, how does it feel?” “It was almost worth the price. It might still be. Once I find the words to trouble and cast a shadow over your triumph.” “Still defiant I see. Then maybe I shall take my veins and put them to a better use, and make a new set of customized strings to celebrate your failure. And do not be troubled. I know your resilience all too well. Alas, you ran out of aces up your sleeve.”

And so they laughed to the puppeteer’s face. He wishes for just one day the city would be empty and deserted, so he can bear his strings in silence.

by Bahak B

artwork by Mara Ex

Full article here.