Watch Patti Smith’s New Tribute to the Avant-Garde Poet Antonin Artaud

The force of Artaud, you couldn’t kill him! — Pat­ti Smith

Found sound enthu­si­asts Sound­walk Col­lec­tive join forces with the God­moth­er of Punk Pat­ti Smith for “Ivry,” the musi­cal trib­ute to poet and the­ater­mak­er Antonin Artaud, above.

The track, fea­tur­ing Smith’s hyp­not­ic impro­vised nar­ra­tion, alter­nate­ly spo­ken and sung over Tarahu­mara gui­tars, Cha­pareke snare drums, and Chi­huahua bells from Mex­i­co’s Sier­ra Tarahu­mara, the region that pro­vid­ed the set­ting for Artaud’s auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal The Pey­ote Dance, has the sooth­ing qual­i­ty of lul­la­bies from such pop­u­lar children’s music Folk Revival­ists as Eliz­a­beth Mitchell and Dan Zanes.

We’d refrain from show­ing the kid­dies this video, though, espe­cial­ly at bed­time.

It begins inno­cent­ly enough with mir­ror images of the beau­ti­ful Artaud—as the Dean of Rouen in 1928’s silent clas­sic The Pas­sion of Joan of Arc, and lat­er in the pri­vate psy­chi­atric clin­ic in Ivry-sur-Seine where he end­ed his days.

Things get much rougher in the final moments, as befits the founder of the The­ater of Cru­el­ty, an avant-garde per­for­mance move­ment that employed scenes of hor­ri­fy­ing vio­lence to shock the audi­ence out of their pre­sumed com­pla­cen­cy.

Noth­ing quite so hairy as Artaud’s vir­tu­al­ly unpro­duce­able short play, Jet of Blood—or, for that mat­ter, Game of Thrones—but we all remem­ber what hap­pened to Joan of Arc, right? (Not to men­tion the gris­ly fate of the many peas­ants whose names his­to­ry fails to note…)

In-between is footage of indige­nous Rará­muri (or Tarahu­mara) tribes­peo­ple enact­ing tra­di­tion­al rit­u­als—the mir­rors on their head­dress­es and the film­mak­ers’ use of reflec­tive sym­me­try hon­or­ing their belief that the after­life mir­rors the mor­tal world.

“Ivry” is the penul­ti­mate track on a brand new Artaud-themed album, also titled The Pey­ote Dance, which delves into the impulse toward expand­ed vision that pro­pelled the artist to Mex­i­co in the 1930s.

Pri­or to bring­ing Smith into the stu­dio, mem­bers of Sound­walk Col­lec­tive revis­it­ed Artaud’s jour­ney through that coun­try (includ­ing a cave in which he once lived), amass­ing stones, sand, leaves, and hand­made Rará­muri instru­ments to “awak­en the landscape’s sleep­ing mem­o­ries and uncov­er the space’s son­ic gram­mar.”

This mis­sion is def­i­nite­ly in keep­ing with Smith’s prac­tice of mak­ing pil­grim­ages and col­lect­ing relics.

The Pey­ote Dance is the first entry in a trip­tych titled The Per­fect Vision. Tune in lat­er this year to trav­el to Ethiopia’s Abyssin­ian val­ley in con­sid­er­a­tion of anoth­er Smith favorite, poet Arthur Rim­baud, and the Indi­an Himalayas, in hon­or of spir­i­tu­al Sur­re­al­ist René Dau­mal, whose alle­gor­i­cal nov­el Mount Ana­logue: A Nov­el of Sym­bol­i­cal­ly Authen­tic Non-Euclid­ean Adven­tures in Moun­tain Climb­ing end­ed in mid-sen­tence, when he died at 36 from the effects of tuber­cu­lo­sis (and, quite pos­si­bly, youth­ful exper­i­ments with such psy­choac­tive chem­i­cals as car­bon tetra­chlo­ride.)

You can order Sound­walk Collective’s album, The Pey­ote Dance, which also fea­tures the work of actor Gael Gar­cía Bernal, here.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Antonin Artaud’s Cen­sored, Nev­er-Aired Radio Play: To Have Done With The Judg­ment of God (1947)

Iggy Pop Reads Walt Whit­man in Col­lab­o­ra­tions With Elec­tron­ic Artists Alva Noto and Tar­wa­ter

Pat­ti Smith’s 40 Favorite Books

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in New York City this June for the next install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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