Oona Kastner

"States of Euphoria"

Music Performance Project based on texts by Droste-Hülshoff, Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton

Poems, letters, and interviews reveal torn lives between psychiatry, kitchen, representation, and typewriter. Three female writers in their obsessive quest for a life beyond societal constraints.

The texts encounter contemporary compositional forms, elements from sound collage, noise and drone, song structures, and aleatoric/improvisational approaches. A spatial video installation complements the sound performance with abstract text sequences and dance-figurative movement material.

Concept/Composition/Voice/Keyboards: Oona Kastner (Bielefeld)

Reeds: Dirk Raulf (Cologne) E-Cello: Willem Schulz (Melle) Electronics: Achim Zepezauer (Dortmund) Video: Uli Sigg (Cologne) Dance: Minako Seki (Berlin/Japan)

States of Euphoria is an interdisciplinary text-music-video project that thematically delves into obsessive female writing spanning over 150 years. Protagonists/poets Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797 – 1848), Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941), and Anne Sexton (1928 – 1974) sought redemption from societal constraints and patriarchal power structures in their writing, in distinct yet related ways. Poems, diaries, and letters recount fractured lives between psychiatry, kitchen, representation, and typewriter. Contemporary sound compositions emerge from selected poems from Book of Folly and The Reverent Rowing Toward God (Sexton), from Sexton’s death notebooks, Droste-Hülshoff’s last poems, and particles from The Waves (Woolf), created for deep woodwinds (bass and baritone saxophone, bass and contrabass clarinet), electric guitar, live electronics, voice, and keyboards. Noise and drone structures, early music, song-like elements, experimental pop music, spoken word, and live electronics combine with aleatoric and improvisational fields, where the individual characteristics of each instrumentalist become audible, as well as the transition into a communal sound organism.

Through extreme frequencies and volume polarities, the compositions create a distinctly physical experience; the „classical“ concert reception of hearing and seeing is transformed in „States of Euphoria“ into a bodily, holistic, space and time-consuming total experience. The audience is not in a frontal „peephole“ situation but becomes part of the performance space, able to move around and assume different positions. The experience of this „psychoacoustic“ ambiance reflects the self-doubt-ridden struggle, the obsessed search of the three female writers for liberation, faith, and ways to write themselves into the world. The live video installation, through multiple overlapping projections, creates a comprehensive, spatially expansive, fluid stage design. It complements and comments on the acoustic-electronic sound and word landscapes through abstract text sequences, collage techniques, and dance-figurative movement material.