#4 Christopher Butterfield / Andrew Hunter - Technollage II
I performed Ursonate for the first time in 1976, in Victoria, BC. Afterwards a woman came up to me and said she had heard Kurt Schwitters recite the piece in a gallery in London during the war, and that I had done it just like he did. Since then I've given Ursonate many times, and each time its truth as art has become more clear. In a world that is quick to imitate, it is still unique, and still resists assimilation – like the music of Webern, it will be-come more beautiful and more terrifying as time goes on, because we can never render it commonplace. Schwitters knew that, in using nonsense to communicate, he was bound to antagonise an audience, but I think he believed that by using the voice to project meaningless sounds, he could transmit ideas and emotions that truly did come from a primal place – not an ecstatic place, as the “speakers in tongues” may have desired, but a far deeper place, the basic human desires for warmth from the cold, security from danger, and the ability to understand one another without confusion.
After hearing a more recent performance I gave in New York in front of 800 people, a woman in the audience told me she thought I was crazy. No, I told her, I had spent twenty years performing Ursonate, and was com-pletely comfortable with it. Perhaps I gave the appearance of madness, but in fact all I had done was learn Schwitters' articulation of the soul, entered into his own free consciousness, and by doing so, was hopefully reaching towards my own. (Christopher Butterfield)
MERZmuseum / Schwittradio / Schwittcd