Thuistezien 310 — 20.01.2022

Salò Mentale
West x Trixie

On May 19th, 2019, Trixie in collaboration with West Den Haag hosted ‘Matinee’, an evening of cocktails, music, and performance in the wake of the exhibition ‘In Cache’ at artist-run space Trixie.

'In Cache' combined the work and archives of Barbarizsm (1965, Amsterdam) and Anthony Blokdijk (1964, Den Haag), each a pillar of the Dutch underground since the ’80s, forming a modest retrospect of the tumultuous times until today. The Matinee was a follow-up with dedicated performances and in-depth conversations about the past, the now, and the future of underground culture in The Netherlands. One of these dedicated performances is what I will focus on here: Salò Mentale / Antony Blokdijk.

Salò Mentale is the alias for Blokdijk’s collaboration with a variety of different musicians. On this occasion, Blokdijk invites Jan Duivenvoorden and Bernice Nauta to join him with electronic instruments, synthesisers. The division between the electronic musicians together behind their machines, seemingly indifferent to their instruments’ output, and the singer Styliana Apostolou, fully embodied within the music and its fluctuation create a narrative between the organic human, and the technological, computed reality we increasingly find ourselves in. Throughout the performance, she attempts to grapple with this dichotomy in different ways until ultimately submitting to her technological overlords.

Beginning bubbly and emotive, her energy dwindles, perhaps realising the futility of her action, eventually curling up into a ball, singing lyrics such as, ‘Don’t feed the ducks’ and ‘I can’t relax’. No matter her pleading cries for attention, recognition, or understanding, the three sound technicians remain ambiguously indifferent throughout, even as the music and mood evolve. This juxtaposition between the organic singer and the mechanised music-technicians creates an uncanny visual and sonic experience, subtly critiquing the innovative, algorithmic, technocratic cyber utopia the advertisement agencies convince us to be living in. As a whole, it can be seen as poetry amalgamating text, colour, sound, and performers to create a loose narrative of detachment, physical and psychological.

Text: Hendrik Hohlfeld