Diamanda Galás | Broken Gargoyles

Apr. 18 - Aug. 8, 2021

Portrait Diamanda Galas
Foto: Austin Young

On July 17th at 9:00 pm the Kestner Gesellschaft will present the new sound installation "Broken Gargoyles" by the American singer, composer and pianist Diamanda Galás in the Nikolaikapelle, which she developed together with the artist and sound designer Daniel Neumann. At the same time, signed vinyl records and exclusive posters will be shown in a special presentation.

Based on two poems from 1911 by the German poet Georg Heym, „Das Fieberspital“ and „Die Dämonen der Stadt“, the work consists of natural and heavily processed voices, manipulated piano, and various other sound sources. In addition, parts of Galás’s 2020 album „De-Formation: Piano Variations, A Work for Solo Piano“ were added, as well as excerpts from verses from "Das Fieberspital“ performed by the artist Robert Knoke.

In "Das Fieberspital“, Heym describes the disturbing condition of people suffering from yellow fever, who live in fear of death, catatonia, and paralysis due to their inhumane treatment and isolation. Galás interweaves these sensations, transformed into sound, with another poem by Heym, "Die Dämonen der Stadt“, in which he describes dark harbingers of World War I in 1911. The atrocities of World War I become visible through "Krieg dem Kriege!", a work by the German anti-militarist and pacifist Ernst Friedrich from 1924, which Galás references in her title.

"Broken Gargoyles“ refers to the cynical titling of the soldiers and their faces, disfigured by war injuries, which were kept from public view so that the German people would not notice these horrible casualties. The disfigured soldiers also had to wear metal masks, which led to many serious, sometimes fatal infections.

Now the sound installation "Broken Gargoyles“ is being presented in the ruins of the Nikolaikapelle, built around 1250 in Hanover, which was located outside the city wall at the time and served as a quarantine for those who suffered from the plague and leprosy in the Middle Ages.

Diamanda Galás (born in San Diego, USA) is an exception in the international music and performance scene. The "Callas of the Avant-garde" became famous with her work „Plague Mass“, which is dedicated to the victims of the AIDS epidemic. It premiered in 1990 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. A wide range of politically charged works include: "Vena Cava", "Schrei 27", "De-Formation" and "Defixiones, Will and Testament". Her work moves at the intersection of performance, scream opera, blues, jazz and rembetiko. Her medium is her four and a half octaves voice, the use of electronics and virtuoso piano playing. She has worked on soundtracks with directors such as Oliver Stone, Clive Barker and Francis Ford Coppola. She was artist in residence at the legendary The Kitchen, New York and at the DAAD in Berlin. In 2005 she received the Italian Demetrio Stratos Award for musical innovation. Her numerous compositions have been released on Mute Records and Intravenal Sound Operations.

“De-Formation – Piano Variations. A Work For Solo Piano”, the latest work from 2021, as well as the re-release "The Litanies of Satan” from 1982, are available as signed vinyls with exclusive posters at the Kestner Gesellschaft.

Curator: Robert Knoke

Learn more in the handout of the event.

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