Inspired by the death of his father and many members of his father’s family, in GHOST Asa Horvitz and his colleagues sing texts created by an AI system trained on hundreds of books related to death, loss, and mourning. Horvitz is joined onstage by New York musician Carmen Q. Rothwell, Vienna-based performer Ariadne Randall, and legendary avant-garde pianist Wayne Horvitz (Asa’s uncle), with text created by an AI system designed by Seraphia Tarrant (University of Edinburgh) and Alejandro Calcano (AI Now). GHOST attempts to create a space in which the audience can drift, dream, and associate on the topics of death, loss, memories, archives–the permanent presence of the past. An installation of the AI system which generated the text for the performance in Het Huis during the festival will round out the experience.
After A DREAM THAT BELONGS TO NO ONE, presented at SPRING in Autumn 2022, GHOST is pre-premiere of the second part of the trilogy THE SAVED NIGHT, an exploration of non-human presences. GHOST is co-produced by SPRING, in a long term commitment with the artist.
“The Rabbis in the Talmud can’t agree if the living can contact the dead or not. Some say yes, others say no, others say yes but you shouldn’t, one says there are 5000 dead on your right shoulder and 10,000 on your left, but if you saw them it would just be too overwhelming. A thousand years later Walter Benjamin tells us that if we suspend the present moment and allow the past to fill up the room, then each moment might become a gap through which a future we can't even imagine imagining might arrive.
We took books we loved connected to death and loss and memory and mourning, trained an AI system on them, and made music from the words it gave us. It sounds a little bit medieval and a little bit contemporary electronic and maybe too much 20th century America and it’s organized like dance and there are some dances too. It’s a New York uncle and his nephew and two friends but it’s not about family or friends, in fact it’s several hours to be none of those things but rather tend a field together without our names.
It’s the first try of a new music dance performance called GHOST. It’s singing words, words from the living and words from the dead, words that belong to no one, words connected to other words, words all the way to the 10,000 mile horizon. We’re never fully human, and anyways the dead aren’t gone (but not as ghosts or spirits or memories or anything like that). A rainbow hue, a book of texts, purple and silver, lots of round food, gold and brass, dim desert brown, definitely not a funeral. You can settle in, drop way down, let it wash over you, it’s serving, being with forms so that something else might arrive, in the corner, over there, and it might last forever, but to find out you’ll just have to come and see… “
– Asa Horvitz
Asa Horvitz (US/NL) is a performance maker and composer/musician. Horvitz studied composition with Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton and graduated from DAS Arts/DAS Theatre in 2021. Recent work has been supported by The New Museum, Microscope Gallery (NYC), deSingel, Het HEM, Het Muziekgebouw, Frascati, wpZimmer, etc. He led the band VALES; collaborations include Ben Seretan, Anna Webber, Kalup Linzy, Scott Gibbons/Romeo Castellucci, Pavel Zustiak. Horvitz is a MacDowell, Fulbright, and Camargo fellow, and is supported by Standplaats Midden Utrecht. He previously lived in New York and Warsaw where he was active in DIY and professional art contexts and later studied psychoanalysis and various ways of working with dreams, before moving to the Netherlands.
With and by: Asa Horvitz, Wayne Horvitz, Ariadne Randall, Carmen Rothwell, Evandro Pedroni
Horn band: Lezaam Beets, Felicity Provan, Ada Rave, Fie Schouten, Goncalo Soares
AI development: Seraphina Goldfarb-Tarrant, Alejandro Calcaño
Custom printing and shirts: Le Van Hung
Advice: Oneka von Schrader & Joachim Robbrecht
Ceramics : Jacob Bartmann
Produced by Golden Trout Wilderness in association with Celestial Excursions Vienna and STITCHING SHOW MACHINE
Co-production: SPRING Performing Arts Festival, Frascati, Musiktheatretage Wien
With the support of: MA7 City of Vienna, Amsterdam Fonds voor Kunst, Gemeente Utrecht, Amsterdam Zuid
Residency/development: Goethe Institut Hong Kong, wpZimmer, deSingel, Microscope Gallery NYC, Camargo Foundation, MacDowell, DAS Theatre, ELIAS 2069, Het HEM, Het Muziekgebouw
Workshops of GHOST included contributions by: Bryan West, David Bruin, Esy Casey, Martin Brans
Production management: Sophie Menzinger, Nora Duijf, Theo Krausz, Waffa al-Attas
Thanks: Joachim Robbrecht, Oneka von Schrader, Nahuel Cano, Szymon Adamczak