Report on Björk’s live performance in Milan | Rolling Stone Italy

The largest living organism on Earth is a mushroom of the genus Armillaria (nails, so to speak), grown in Oregon, USA. Its mycelium (a real mushroom, what we collect and eat is just its fruiting body), a tangle of underground threads, extends over 890 hectares (almost ten square kilometers). It is estimated to be approximately 2,800 years old and was only discovered in 1998. Björk toured her album that year. homogeneous and together with visionary director Chris Cunningham, he was preparing one of the most significant videos of that decade. Everything is full of lovein which two cyborgs come together, exchanging outpourings.

Two worlds, the world of mushrooms and the world of robotics, which on paper have little to say to each other, but which, thanks to the creative genius of Björk – a tech enthusiast and environmentalist – manage to creatively coexist. Just think about FossoraTechno-mushroom album by artist, oa Cornucopiaa show with which the Icelandic artist travels around the world and which took place yesterday at the Assago Forum in Milan.

Cornucopiabased on the same artist’s 2017 naturalistic theater piece, does not focus on Björk’s latest releases: most of the show (11 songs, over 50% of the setlist) is built on Utopia2017 album produced by Arca, leaving behind Fossora, the latest work in chronological order, only 4 tracks. The past (or nostalgia?) is almost absent, with only 5 songs representing the previous 8 albums. As you understand, no hits, nothing. My army or Great sensuality, Human behavior or It’s oh so quiet; with the exception of Venus in childhood from Debut. homogeneous, Time AND Biophilia instead, they are completely left out.

Photo: Santiago Felipe/Redferns for ABA

A pop concert in a sci-fi vein, as defined by Björk herself, masterfully playing on different levels of visual depth. The musicians (about ten, including a harpist and Viibra, an ensemble of seven flutists—“the flutes are amazing,” as Björk will say in one of his rare moments of conversation) move between a series of platforms in a mushroom-themed ecosystem designed by production designer Chiara Stevenson (very close to aesthetics Fossora), while video projections are cleverly used between a giant back screen, two side column screens and a translucent curtain that opens and closes to show us or deny us what is happening on stage. Thus, the use varies significantly depending on the seat position.

Those in the stands (and especially the center stands) feel like they’re watching a concert in an iMax theater: incredible digital visual creations signed by media artists Tobias Gremmler, Andy Huang, Nick Knight and M/M are taken from a different place. category. The visual theme is nature flirting with technology, a third digital landscape, an ecstatic utopia, and immerses us in Björk’s environmental political ideals. Björk, who – at this distance – is no longer the main character of the show, despite the fact that she continues to present herself in different forms: in person, first in a creative round costume, and as an encore in a white nymphaean outfit (but always with a mask), but also in the form of projection, real-time video, avatar. Björk is almost absent altogether, but she is always there. We may get lost in the visual frenzy and forget about it, but it is there, unchanging; a little like nature, a little like Capital. For those who were able to enjoy the concert in not very cheap seats in the stalls (over a hundred euros in total), the impressions, of course, were different. From this point on, Björk’s idyllic universe of nymphs, fauns and her musicians (including flutes, harps, distorted drums and watery percussion) again took on a certain central place in the production, giving a more human reading and vision of the ecological concept.

But is it possible to get in touch with nature while sitting on plastic chairs inside the arena? When we are forced into such a position in front of such important video equipment, vision predominates among our senses. Immersed in this 3D Netflix documentary, the body is dazed and forgotten. We are not allowed to dance, we are not allowed to interpret with our body what we feel; we are limited to a passive search for a utopia that becomes even more unattainable in our lives. Contact with your body is the most effective way to stimulate a sensitive reconnection with Nature, since our body is, first and foremost, Nature itself. Trapped in a plastic chair, we are as stunned as at home on the sofa, domesticated as an English garden, stunned in the face of the exciting nature of what technology and creativity can show us.

Photo: Santiago Felipe/Redferns for ABA

“We must imagine something that does not exist,” Björk urges in a poster that appears on large screens, “to imagine a future in which nature and technology collaborate.” A position also echoed by Greta Thunberg, questioned by a video speech lasting several minutes: “If solutions cannot be found, then perhaps we need to change the system itself.” Everything is very correct and beautiful in these messages, in this idea of ​​Utopia (which is very far fromUtopia ego reference to Travis Scott), but while all this is happening, it is difficult to tear away from the thought that we are ten thousand people in the arena (for the record, such a show would have made more money in the theater, but this was impossible due to the imposing structures, necessary for a live performance), an arena in which all drinks (water bottles and glasses for beer and cocktails) and seats (sitting was also required) are made of plastic. If Björk’s utopia – at least on stage – represents a riot of possibilities and the evolution of our planet, its rationale remains complex, to say the least. It is probably true that any utopia as such may be beautiful, but it cannot but remain unrealized, carrying within itself the germ of its own failure. Imagination is perhaps no longer enough (as Greta herself states in the short circuit).

But what should be the correct form and size of a nudist (and political) concert? If there is no alternative to capitalism, how can you organize a trip around the world without accepting the rules of capitalism itself? How to convey a message to thousands of people without falling into the traps of Capital? What is his sin? Cornucopia, while remaining on an aesthetic and sonic level (but only if you love the expressiveness of Björk’s voice) a sensational work, precisely in this naive ease in conveying a much-needed and immediate message; Symbolically, this is the first Björk tour that could not be held in Iceland because it was too logistically complex (hence with an environmental impact that was unattainable for the island). If even the environmental show fails to reach its homeland and change not even the world, but at least the bar in the arena, what are our chances really? The risk is that all that will be left of this Utopia are beautiful images and beautiful sounds. Imagination yes, but nothing more.

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