Answers to a few questions
At the age of 14, I joined a soul/R&B band that played 4 nights a week at some of the most dangerous clubs in Northern California. We would start at 9 pm and sometimes not finish until 6 the next morning. There were times when guns were pulled and fired- one of our singers got shot because he would not sing a Santana song. One day, our band was playing in a park in an area where the police were afraid to enter. Someone with a gun told our band that if we stopped playing, one of us would die. We started to play, and after about 15 minutes, somebody cut the power to the stage. The electric instruments had to stop playing, but the drummer and I were able to continue. We played for almost an hour before the guy with the gun finally left. I think that this experience was the seed for the Ad Nauseam Project.
My first large scale performance was entitled Stealing a Bale of Hay. It included musicians and singers performing a musical composition while, at the same time, traveling on the back of a truck and stealing a bale of hay from a nearby horse stable.
The performances that most defined the Ad Nauseam Project occurred in the mid-nineties.
3 Icons was a series of three nights of performances by different groups of musicians. Each night was devoted to a popular musical icon: James Brown, Can, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. A short segment of music (10-30 secs.) was chosen to represent each icon’s oeuvre. The segment was played as a repeated loop until the performers could physically no longer continue.
The music in my installations and performances is the by-product of a concept, much like the music from a radio in an Ed Kienholz installation, the sounds of masturbation in a Vito Acconci performance piece, or the singing in a Gilbert & George tableau. The concepts are usually conceived from personal history and are actualized through intimate interaction of performer and spectator. In Grubic’s Cube, the spectator intimately participates by actively inhibiting the movements of the performers with the spectator’s own breath. The focus of Grubic’s Cube is controlled and distanced intimacy, not a mediocre jazz band playing Girl from Ipanema.
Repetition and exhaustion are used in some of my performances much like they are used in ecstatic religious experience, as a vehicle to go outside oneself. On the other hand, I also use repetition and exhaustion to illustrate a more mundane, profane experience. There is a rich palette in their qualities. More recently, thanks to collaborations with Eric Pifeteau and Federico Pelligrini, I have incorporated layers of even more varied states of repetition and exhaustion, further enriching the experience.
In Grubic’s Cube, a light and festive atmosphere is created by the many balloons and pleasant music. There is laughing and dancing and a general feeling of well-being. At the same time, there are people in a cage performing a grueling task to the point of exhaustion, and the happy, laughing people are making that task harder by constricting the movements of the caged players. This is a classic Ad Nauseam Project piece.