Curator, Vicky Langan, tells me that this is the first review that Black Sun will have received, something I find kind of astonishing. To me, Black Sun is a Cork institution; an always interesting night of avant-garde performance, film and noise that is unrivalled in the city. Founded in 2009, it has brought some world-class performers to Cork and the recent move to Plugd / Gulpd and the TDC in the Triskel is suiting it well.
This evening the programme consists of four sections which are played to a good crowd. First we head to Plugd to watch the film Personal Discipline by Miroslav Bata Petrović and Julijana Terek (1983) presented by Max Le Cain.
A naked woman sits in front of a mirror slowly cutting off her hair in an imaging that is both brutal and voyeuristic. Flicking from this to images of daily life – weird looking toys, cars, people walking about, a couple having sex, and the same woman who shaves her head walking purposely through the streets – it is set to a frantic soundtrack of electronic music and military-style marching that makes it feel darkly sinister and determinedly subversive. Made as part of an underground cine-club in the former Yugoslavia, this is its Irish premiere; a rare film with a raw punk sensibility, it makes for compelling viewing.
Next we move down to the TDC for the performance from First Blood Part II & Wölflinge. The two performers stand under a blue spotlight, their mouths open and locked together as they make guttural, screaming, shouting noises. Muffled by their intimacy, the noises sound both sexual and angry, bodily and unworldly. Punctuating the action they break away from each other to spit into the air. Their mutual commitment to the performance makes it gripping to watch, it is vital and visceral.
Wölfbait follow; by far the most band-like of acts on the programme, this is dirty sounding noise with tons of feedback, heavy guitars and dark vocals. The sound completely takes over the space, causing the audience to surge forward. It is an intense half an hour which fills up my ears and sends me spinning.
Last up is John Wiese who does an altogether quieter kind of set made up of surges of sound that wash over us. He uses samples of radio recordings, glass breaking, revving engines, bursts of singing and radio tower beeps. Occasionally there are intense high-pitched noises that attack you, at other times little bursts of singing, muffled so as to be just below registration. It feels very science-fiction-y, reminding me of some futuristic vision from a 1950’s b-movie; the image of Wiese sitting in the darkness, illuminated by the lights of his soundboard adds to this.
All in all, this was another varied and fascinating night, and I maintain one of the best that Cork has to offer. Black Sun describes itself as ‘an opening of possibility’ – judging by this evening, it absolutely lives up to its claim.