Nicholas Bullen - Into the Black Hole

Nicholas Bullen’s lecture focuses on the voice as both a creative material and a tool for challenging and subverting dominant structures.

The practice of language places the voice inside a structure that facilitates communication but also constructs a certain form of social reality. Within this structure, the voice which moves beyond the recognised boundaries and modes of discourse becomes a representation of otherness: in the process of addressing and interrogating language, it becomes a pariah voice that can seek liberation through movement towards a terminal state, a black hole.

Drawing on Bullen’s autobiographical experience (particularly his use of the voice in the ‘anti music’ of Napalm Death, progenitors of the Grindcore genre) and on the practice of artists who have adopted a confrontational position towards language and the use of the voice, the lecture explores strategies for ‘silencing’ language.

The talk is part of the live programme in connection with the exhibition “O Superman To Girls, Tricky. I Am Here, Where Are You: On Vocal Performance” and Plattform, Bergen Kunsthalls own lecture series.

Nicholas Bullen is an artist and composer based in Birmingham, England. Using material that has personal associations, is close to hand, or is specific to an environment, he uses process to explore the transmutation of elements and their relationships to psychological perception and space. His work is inter-disciplinary in approach and is developed across a range of media including sound, installation, film, performance, and text.

Nicholas has a history of musical composition spanning more than 38 years (including founding the group Napalm Death who created the grindcore genre of extreme music). During this period, his compositions have been made available on over 40 releases and he has produced performances of his work in art galleries, theatres, cinemas and through multichannel sound systems including Sonar, Unsound, Art Basel, Eco Madrid, Institute of Contemporary Arts, CBSO Centre and BEAST.

Works include sound installations on multichannel systems (Insula, 2012 and Three Elements, 2011) and using vinyl records (Immersions, 2006), sound documentation of performance actions (Openings: Call Unknown & Channel, 2001 – 2015), and a series of performance works for voice (including Breach, 2006 – ongoing) using the human voice as both material and medium for exploration. Work has been presented internationally including Tate Britain, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Hayward Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, White Columns, Chisenhale Gallery, Arnolfini Gallery, Schirn Kunsthalle, Casino Luxembourg, Kunsthall Oslo, Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond and Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania.

The exhibition O Superman… presents a series of seminal vocal performances, artists, and audio/visual artworks, installed and enacted across all of the Kunsthall galleries and as part of a live programme in Landmark.

9. September 2017