"As he pulls hair out of the back of his head onto the sheet metal some stones blow up
"My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world.”
This text is a passage from the late transgressive fiction writer Kathy Acker’s 1981 masterpiece Great Expectations. However, the centre paragraph was actually lifted, or “pirated” as was Acker’s preferred term for the practice, from French author Pierre Guyotat’s masterpiece Eden, Eden, Eden. And of course the book’s title is pirated from the masterpiece of the same name by Charles Dickens, which Kathy also re-wrote the first passage of to open her book. In the appropriation of her favourite texts, Acker framed her artistic and philosophical interests as inseparable from her literary identity. The appropriated texts weren’t just Acker’s influences, they were the texts that she used to explore her own role in literature and culture. And despite Acker’s reliance on heavy academic research, her work was undeniably personal. It was a primal and visceral expression of rage, anxiety, and desire that was derived from an intense practice of studious rigour.
“A significant element of Acker’s creative process was her personal library,” wrote Julian Brimmers for the Paris Review. “She was an avid and active reader. She frequently marked passages that she later pirated for her own novels. Most important, she used margins, blank pages, and empty spaces in front matter to formulate spontaneous ideas about her own art and (love) life—a glimpse into the writer’s mind at its most unfiltered.”
I thought of Acker’s incorporation of diligent reading and research into a raw, unfiltered expression after witnessing LINGUA IGNOTA, AKA the providence-based musician Kristin Hayter, perform tracks from her new album CALIGULA at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. Like Acker, Hayter immerses herself in art and history to fuel her intense expression. Writing for the Village Voice, Jamie Lowe said: “The first time I saw Kristin Hayter perform as LINGUA IGNOTA she was presenting her MFA thesis at Brown. She delivered striking operatic tones while behind her played black and white video footage of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Pino Bausch choreography to Igor Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring and burning buildings. When she finished her set, at least three audience members were in tears.” There you have it. Hayter, like Acker, allows us to see her research as a way of emphasising her interiority, her alterity, and her emotional state; her research enhances the emotional impact of the work rather than dulls it.
Hayter’s 2017 record as LINGUA IGNOTA All Bitches Die was an intense listen in its combination of noise, black metal, experimental electronics, and classical/choral influences. That said, it felt more like the start of something then the culmination of an idea in comparison with CALIGULA. Her latest LP is a masterpiece that perfectly balances her music’s overwhelming extremity and potent beauty. A survivor of harrowing abuse at the hands of a well-known but unnamed Providence noise musician, Hayter presents her sound and performances as rituals of excess catharsis, taking elements from spiritual music, the history of transgressive performance art (traces of Viennese Aktionists and early feminist artists like Carolee Schneeman enhance her performative style), and the well-worn clichés of extreme music that Hayter seems to both embrace and retain critical distance from in her visual packaging and performances.
Read the full article and view more photos HERE.