Focus Inexpectatus in Dala-Floda (part 1)

Focus Inexpectatus in Dala-Floda (part 1)

September 21, 2017

Written by:

Philipp Schmickl

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This is not a review. My texts are like music, they have no (real) beginning and no (real) end. They do not only have one topic, or one main-topic, because all topics are related to all other topics. One idea consists of all ideas. One thought contains all thoughts. There are only occasions for writing. This time it’s the Hagenfesten in Dala-Floda to where I followed the invitation to express to my music.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016, Stockholm, Arlanda Central Station, 9.28 am

Que faire? (What is to be done?) It’s cold and I am waiting for the train. It will depart at 10.06 am to Borlänge where I am going to take the bus to Dala-Floda. There will be a festival and its programme is secret.


‘The focus on the unexpected is first a focus on one’s self and on one’s own will,’ I wrote into my notebook as a preparation for the journey. Because one has to be prepared in order to take the unexpected. One has to be free – or freer – from fear and open to stand the unexpected or to even look for it. One needs the confidence that the unexpected is going to be ‘good’ – or one needs the patience to go through it when it turns out not so good. If there will be something really unexpected at the festival, I am going to find out in the next days.

In front of me, a policeman is controlling the passengers with his eyes. Gun, club, back pain, judging from his way of moving.

Last Friday I spent a hot and lazy afternoon in the Augarten park (Vienna) and was reading Eric Wolfs ‘Europe And The People Without History’. When my concentration wore off, I started looking after the women that were passing by instead of trying to get back my concentration. Sometimes I lose my focus. Soon I felt stupid turning my head around so much, so I decided to concentrate on my concentration – à la recherche de la concentration perdue – in search of lost concentration, and she came back and I read (and understood). That way the right people walk into you. Out of the focus on myself the unexpected happened and it set the mood, my mood for the festen and the journey.

This morning around six AM at the Vienna International Airport I had to say goodbye to Andrew Choate with whom I spent the few days of coming down after the Konfrontationen Festival (Nickelsdorf). We parted in front of the artificial turf where Andrew stayed jamming a square and I left to catch my flight.

I read : ‘Desire and life cannot be postponed. Sunsets, ripe strawberries, the singing of the birds, goodbye-kisses want to be relished now. Spontaneity is a commandment for every pleasure; and what is spontaneity other than the ability to let one self be surprised, to be able to marvel at things?’
(Original : ‘Lust wie Leben lassen sich nicht aufschieben. Sonnenuntergänge, reife Erdbeeren, Vogelgesang und Abschiedsküsse wollen jetzt genossen sein. Spontaneität ist das Gebot für allen Genuss; und was ist Spontaneität im Wesen anderes, als die Fähigkeit, sich überraschen zu lassen, staunen zu können?’)

Severin Heilmann, Probe entfällt wegen Auftritt. Streifzüge 55

The Journey

They picked me up at the Dala-Floda station and now I am here in the northern South of Sweden, two days before the festival is going to start with the revealing of the secret of the first band. Im am sitting alone at a table, listening to the French boys and girls talking English – about movies. Everything seems a little smaller than last time. I must have grown. Ah, food is ready.

After lunch : During lunch I got to know some of the volunteers. Many of them did not come for the music in the first place, they rather came for the community-experience and/or because they are friends of the regular Hagenfesten volunteers. From Great Britain, from France, some Germans, Swiss and even Swedish. In this very moment they are lying in the sun, scattered on the lawn.

‘The shift work-shop starts in half an hour,’ Jens Linell said, who is taking care of the volunteers, to make them acquainted with the tasks they will have to fulfil during the festival. The French boys and girls are now speaking in French – about cinéma. During lunch I was also talking about myself – I said that I was going to write about the festival and that I am an editor of books – and about Nickelsdorf. When I related bits of the Konfrontationen festival, I realized that I said, that in our festival the focus lies on improvisation – meanwhile it got the subtitle ‘An Improvised Festival’ – and that the focus on improvisation is analogous to the focus on the unexpected, it’s just a gradual difference. Because improvisation is a method that wants to provoke the unexpected as well as a method à faire la musique politiquement (to make music politically). Here we’re back to cinéma, because this last thought has got to do with Jean-Luc Godard. Karin, my theoral-accomplice, gave me a booklet which I brought with me. It is called Que faire and contains thoughts and ideas about the making of movies, that Jean-Luc Godard united in a manifesto that contains 40 declarations. More on that subject later.

Everything is still here at the Hagen : the river (when I arrived I thought, ‘Ah, down there the music is flowing‘), the clouds, the house, the winter garden kitchen, the floating sauna, the barns, the pavillion-tents (again), the wind, the serenity, as well as al the small wooden stools, the chairs, all the different benches and sofas, the Hollywood garden swing, the fauteuils, the candlesticks, the cups and little cups, ornamented with flowers and little flowers and hearts, wine glasses in all beautiful forms (respecting the cosmic harmonies of all the shapes and sizes), the tablecloths, the ashtrays, the bowls, the lamps and small lamps (lamparitos), stars and lampions, the garlands, the flower pots, the ribbons, curtains, blankets – probably all from the Loppis (second/third-hand dealer in Dala-Floda). The lawn was mowed very recently and where the high grass with its flowers doesn’t disturb, they let it be. The slope down to the river, the pontoon from where you jump into the water, the wooden buoy to hold on to, the Nils Holgersson geese, the bell, Lena and Jon, mother and father of Joel Grip who had invited me, the field nearby, the raspberries, the campsite and again the serenity. Particularly when looking into the water, one can get the impression to be on an island. But the atmosphere and the mood that is spreading all over Europe, is inside us and we brought it to this island. We take our thoughts with us everywhere we go. We try to soothe our worries with the music, try to soothe my worries with the music.

Two weeks ago our festival took place, Konfrontationen in Nickelsdorf. Andrew the square-jammer Choate and I, without having to discuss it, agreed that in this year’s edition we felt a kind of uncertainty, a political uncertainty. Many concerts were good, some very good, one was OUTSTANDING – they played with stones and flowers, the wind and the heat (Ninh Lê Quan, percussion; Michel Doneda, reeds - you can read The Attic interview with them HERE).

Other concerts were not interesting at all. A usual combination. The uncertainty – maybe it was only us who felt it – had its point of departure at the threshold of the Jazzgalerie, at the isthmus that divides the fest from the village Nickelsdorf. In May this year the Austrian presidential elections took place and two thirds of the inhabitants of the village voted for the extreme-right candidate. I have the feeling that the ignorance changes into active rejection of the festival. Around the year 2000, when the right-wing/conservative government took power in Austria, some young drunk youths from the village attacked festival-guests on the campsite. I hope, this does not happen again, but I feel the potential. This year, a part of the sound-art exhibition was evicted, because the owner of the house where it took place, didn’t want to have any refugees in his house, as he said. He didn’t know that it was just tents. About this particular part of the exhibition :

Christine Schörkhuber: “We arrived on the dark side of Europe – the tents of Idomeni”
in collaboration with Amir Zada, Bachir Abdulahad, Mahdir Nadir Hussain.

After the closure of the “Balkan route” a few months ago, thousands of people stranded at the greek/macedonian border. To overcome their speechlessness, their only possibility was to write their demands on their tents, hoping this lines would be transported and read. And they have been carried on to Nickelsdorf. Transfered, displaced and out of context they reappear as a relict of european history on trembling tarpaulin.

The tents had to go again. So they were put up right in front of the Jazzgalerie and that had a much stronger effect.

At the same time the military is patroulling, carrying their weapons through the village. A friend, who was staying just accross the former former border in Hegyeshalom, and who was cycling back and forth every day, told me that he had seen Austrian soldiers, guns in their hands and people kneeling in front of them in the gravel with their hands behind their head. Dror Feiler made photos and was threatened and chased away.

All this is alienating. You can feel the “new self-assurance” of the military and the police. They are still hoping that their candidate is going to win in the repetition of the presidential election. Also in Vienna, since some time I see much more police in the streets, they’re everywhere with their fresh haircuts and ugly cars.

After a nap in the sun I woke up again on the island. The preparations are progressing, the volunteers are diligently doing their thing, although I heard Tilly say, ‘I feel more like sleeping.’ The peaceful atmosphere that lies on the Hagen was just startled by a cover of a pot falling on the tiles of the kitchen floor. Niklas Barnö walks past (organizer). I am going to jump into the water.

Lisa Grip, Joel's sister, came over and asked me if she could take a picture of me. She and her partner Erik Viklund make portraits with an old camera (Wista 4×5) of those present at the Hagenfesten during daytime and develop the photos in the night. Over the next days they will create an exhibition up in the gallery above the Stallet.

Next to me a French boy and an American girl are talking about the police. ‘When you see the police in the street (in Baltimore) you don’t think that they gonna protect you,’ she said. ‘Yeah,’ said he, ‘in France it’s the same now. There was a law enforcement, so they can take you in the street and bring you to the police station and hold you for two days without any reason.’

Dinner time is approaching and French noises are coming out of the kitchen, Cumbia on the boombox. Heaven is thundering. I fancy 1 beer.


Second day, one day before the festival, Wednesday, August 3rd

She came to me in my dream and referring to what I wrote into my small notebook – ‘she’s a woman with whom I can flee from the Nazis when their time is ripe again’ –, she said : ‘No, you must fight.’

Yesterday evening I got acquainted with Paul Abbott who told me about CESURA//ACCESO, a print and online journal for music politics and poetics.‘

Or how they put it in the editorial :

‘This journal explores—through music, politics and language—the means we have, in spite of limitations, to be part of an ecology of resistance and learning that includes skin, organs, ideas, imagination, flight, asylum and history. It is also a project of unmasking both the roots and reproductions of increasingly opaque and complex malignant factors that sustain our oppressions, and the “unspent” political potential of music.

I had breakfast with Marc, who is a wine-dealer and concert-organizer (Atelier Tampon Nomade) in Paris. In plain French he commented on the music coming out of the kitchen radio, ‘Je déteste les Beatles (I hate the Beatles).’ Already in his youth, the music everybody was listening to, was a real pain in his ass : Dire Straits, Supertramp (which he pronounced Supertrump). So he went to the public library, bibliothèque (discothèque) municipale, and asked the librarian if she had something else to recommend. She gave him a Cecil Taylor record and Alan Silva and The Celestial Communication Orchestra, Byg Actuel. This had changed his life. I told him about Hauna (Hans Falb, who made the Jazzgalerie to what it is now) who, when I was still a youth, gave me a lot of music (and literature) that formed me. With regard to this Marc pointed out to me the meaning of the word ‘repère’ in the langage Lacanien : repère = point of reference; père = father.

This was followed by more profane word-plays like ‘petit-daesh’ or ‘touches pas à ma compote!’ Marc also told me about the ‘chinoises sur les quaies qui te font une pipe pour cinq Euro.’ (Chinese women on the quais in Paris who give you a blow-job for five Euros.) Female friends of his once approached these women and told them that they could charge more but all they replied was, ‘Bon prix! Bon prix!’ (good price). They assumed that those were they only words they knew in French. But how did we come to this point? Yeah, I remember. I told Marc about a journey home I once made by coach from the Auvergne via Italy. In Lyon roughly ten Poles boarded the coach, they were also on their way home. Final destination Warszawa. They were drinking vodka, each one had his own bottle but they were drinking from tiny plastic cups. At almost every stop one or two of them jumped out to get more vodka from the gas station. They invited me to drink with them and explained me that finally they could go home again. They had spent months in southern France renovating an old castle. They were payed four Euros per hour and on Saturday they had to work without payment in order to pay back the costs of food and accommodation. This is the world we are living in, exploitation is happening in the midst of our free and open societies and tacitly we agree. These are our values.

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