my MFA thesis for Brown University was titled BURN EVERYTHING TRUST NO ONE KILL YOURSELF, abridged for the sake of propriety to BURN EVERYTHING.
BURN EVERYTHING has many moving parts. its basis is a document 10,000 pages in length. This document is composed exclusively of appropriated material: lyrics, message board posts, and liner notes from subgenres of extreme music that mythologize misogyny, such as: black metal, hardcore, harsh noise, power electronics, grindcore, and with particular attention to pornogrind, a subset of grindcore with lyrical content that graphically details sexual violence. this document also contains court papers, audio recordings, and police filings from my own experiences of violence. the 10,000 pages were assembled using a markov chain in Shannon’s nomenclature in orders three and four. 10,000 pages is equal to 100 lbs in standard paper, which is equivalent to my body weight.
from this text was built a cycle of thirteen songs conceptually based on Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. while Rite is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of music of all time, little attention is devoted to the narrative of the young girl, The Chosen One, who dances herself to death. i wanted to create a cycle of songs about her, about systemic violence against women in music as well as institutionalized violence against women in the world. while Vaslav Nijinksy’s original choreography of angular geometry is seminal and brilliant, i was most attracted to Pina Bausch’s interpretation of the ballet, which favors brutal and ecstatic primacy. in the hedonism of pagan ritual i also detected its ideological antithesis – the religious ecstasy of the Pentecostal Church. the song cycle is composed almost entirely for keyboard and organ due to the organ’s prevalence as the liturgical instrument of choice, and aside from passages from the King James Bible and a few fragments of text of my own composition, all sung text is sourced from the 10,000 page document.
my objective was to utilize the language and symbology of extreme music to create work that would help to articulate real trauma for survivors of violence. thus, i focused on imagery such as: black-and-white, high-contrast, serial killers, destruction and ruin mostly through fire (hence BURN EVERYTHING), nihilist and fascist imagery, women’s bodies, religious iconography, and explicit language. these tropes are so over-used in extreme music they have become ambient, but I seek to imbue them with meaning by recontextualizing them.
BURN EVERYTHING was also an installation at Brown University’s Granoff Center, where i installed the 10,000 pages, crushed and lit from below as if on fire, before video projections in various studios and hallways throughout the building overnight. Here are a few images of that installation:
the following pieces from the song cycle are available to listen to and view: