Introducing the beautiful art’s residency ‘CAMP’

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Space, speed and process – at work with Eli Keszler

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Joseph Anthony Evans | November 3, 2017

“All sorts of places inspire me in all sorts of ways. I don’t separate out the auditory experience from the visual, or from any other sense really”, explains NYC artist Eli Keszler when I ask him about the importance of place in his work. Whether it’s his transferal of the essence of a space into his recorded work, or his explorations of architecture-as-instrument, physical spaces have a definitive impact on Keszler’s output. “I let spaces and environments dictate work, something which I believe happens on the audience’s end. This will be one of the points emphasized during my course as a philosophy of production.”

The course in question is his five-day masterclass next year at CAMP, a residential arts school based in the high French Pyrenees. The newly founded facility has been causing a stir in the art world, with masterclasses from eminent sound recordist Chris Watson, Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, renowned composer Gavin Bryars, live art pioneer Anne Bean, new music ensemble Apartment House, ambient guru Laraaji and others. Based in the last village before the frontier chain and the Spanish border, at 750m above sea level, the facility is perched amongst some of the highest peaks in the range, surrounded by glaciers, ancient forests, cascading waterfalls and soaring eagles. “The location brings about approaches we wouldn’t pursue otherwise. With such a specific and spectacular environment, I hope we all will be pushed outside of ourselves”, Eli states. “I’m staying fairly open to what the participants bring to the session, like I do in my own work, I’m planning to try and ask questions that bring about changes in our modes of making work, regardless of the techniques we use to produce.”

A product of a musical upbringing in Boston, Eli set his sights on performance perfection and enrolled at the New England Conservatory, studying under avant-garde pianist and Zorn- collaborator, Anthony Coleman. He has since moved to the other side of academia, teaching at Brooklyn College, Columbia, Dartmouth, Washington, Mass Art and UMass Boston. “I love teaching, I’ve done it in varied capacities for most of my life. When artists or musicians reach certain levels and have tried enough approaches to the same problem it often becomes more about finding the pieces which are missing that they can’t see. I wouldn’t say it’s teaching exactly, but maybe more about seeing for someone from the outside.”

 

Outside of learning and teaching, Eli’s work continues to gain traction worldwide – his installations, music and visual work have appeared at MIT List Center, the V&A (London), Sculpture Center, South London Gallery, Tectonics Festival Reykjavik and MoMa PS1; meanwhile his recordings, most recently the acclaimed “Last Signs of Speed”, are exuded from the most respectable imprints. Keszler is prolific, constantly working, bringing creativity and making into every aspect of his life. “I don’t really divide making between work and play personally. I wake up as early as I can and get to it and I generally enjoying myself in the process.” His CAMP session will follow the same process: “We’ll have fun, but we may as well push ourselves while we are in such a special place. I’m going to suggest that all of us to complete a work during our time there. We will do a lot of independent work and discussion with a kind of show or presentation at the end. We’ll all be working quite hard and because of the brevity, we will be forced to trust our instincts, which is always an important goal and reminder.”

 

The silence, nature and geographical space of the high Pyrenees couldn’t be much further from Eli’s home landscape of NYC. Nevertheless, the city continues to inspire him –

“I think despite everything it’s quite good. It can be tough, but there are so many people from different worlds that it is really endless and exhilarating. The scenes and energy on the street are wonderful and intense. Much of my family and friends are in and around the city, and all of this helps me to stay awake and inspired. I am mostly inspired by the people I meet, the people I work with, the people in my life, music and not music — really everything. I let everything in and let it bounce off of my work. I don’t concern myself with movements or scenes. Powerful work has, and will always, exist outside of them; this idea frees one from scary types of mob mentality which seem all too present today.”

Eli Keszler’s masterclass at CAMP will take place in April 2018; for more information visit www.campfr.com

Written by James Birchall

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