Found songs

There is an desperate archive of diverse Jewish folk songs, originating across Hitler’s Europe and hidden in Kiev through Stalin’s rule. Here is immediacy, witness, satire and heartbreak. In trenches, soldiers lampoon their oppressors (I learn from the New Yorker article that nearly half a million Jews in the Red Army battled the Nazis, a third of whom died).

   

I had started this drawing already, riffing on the idea of a stringed instrument, using Zen Brush on the iPad.  I added in layers in another programme, Procreate, and by now I was listening to the voice and violin, dances and laments, on the album Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II.

The hand started as the guitarist’s grip but might be seen differently as the fanatic’s grasp.

10 responses to “Found songs

    • Sort of
      I like found art.
      But in found art, the objects found and given artistic significance were not first lost or hidden. Rather they had no prior conceptual existence though they had substance and reality, like one stone on a beach, or an engine part, picked up by the artist and made art by intent and composition.
      Is that like what you do in the act of photography?
      By contrast, these songs had cultural significance from the start for the people who made them. They were collected by folklorist Moisei Beregovsky, who I suppose brought together this music from across Europe into his archive: in that sense this is found music as you see it, they would never otherwise have been heard together. In another sense, they were deliberately hidden, and then perhaps lost to memory, but still, purposely hidden from the anti Semitism of Stalin’s Soviet Union. So these were literally found songs, when the archive was uncovered in Kiev long after Stalin had died.

      • To my mind, so-called found art is indeed different from what you linked to, and also different from your visual creations corresponding to the songs. It was the first word in your post title, plus the fact that you’re a visual artist, that made me connect the two things.

        To answer your question about photography: unlike you, who face a blank piece of paper or canvas, photographers have a reality in front of them. The challenge is to find a way to portray that reality in an aesthetic way. Some photographers manipulate environments or stage scenes outright in order to photograph them. Traditional photographers, especially nature photographers, don’t do that.

        In short, the found can be profound.

      • I wholly agree especially your last comment.
        And this is something which draws me to your photographs by the way.
        When I draw and paint, I need to create then disrupt the image and then find the art again. It’s not always clear to me what I am looking for, and if I find something whether it was worth the process.

      • I wholly agree especially your last comment.
        And this is something which draws me to your photographs by the way.
        When I draw and paint, I need to create then disrupt the image and then find the art again in the mess I created. That’s why I like the idea of found art. But it’s easy to be pretentious, find something and say, that’s art.

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