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Maxime Guitton: Times out of tune: Alvin Curran or a Roman history of musical smuggling 

Saturday 25 April
Spike Island, 12:00 — 13:00

In 2017, Marseille-based music historian Maxime Guitton began a year-long research project exploring the archives of American composer, improviser and pedagogue, Alvin Curran, located in his adopted home of Rome, Italy.

Since 1964, Curran has worked at the crossroads of composition and improvisation, electronics and instrumental music, radio works and sound installations—often in conversation with post-modern dance, Arte Povera, Fluxus, minimalism, free improvisation, avant-garde theatre, experimental poetry, and artists’ film. In his research, Guitton unveils this crucial and still little known part of avant-garde musical and performing arts history to understand the way an experimental artistic practice—through radical politics, communal experience, contemplation of nature and solitude—can make history.

Curran’s archives are a treasure trove including nearly fifty-five years’ worth of sketches, scores and notes; binders retracing a life dedicated to music in photographs, letters, liner notes, press articles and posters; over 700 magnetic tapes, cassettes and terabytes of unreleased studio recordings; works for cinema, dance and theatre; live recordings; a sound diary methodically kept for decades, in which animal sounds and children’s voices meet trains, fog horns, boat sirens and fountains.

Guitton’s lecture will trace the thread connecting a dense constellation of locations, landscapes and artists—John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, Simone Forti, Joan Jonas, Michelangelo Antonioni, Cy Twombly, and Trisha Brown among them—who populate Curran’s Rome-based archive.

Maxime Guitton

Maxime Guitton is a Marseille-based music historian who researches musical minimalism and the history of mountaineering. More