14: Laibach

Recorded: During a performance of ‘Chess Game for Four’ at the HDLU’s Bačva Gallery Space in Zagreb
Email interview: April 2019

MS: The visual to accompany your performance of 4’33” seems to isolate the humour that Cage brought to a lot of things by referencing his chess matches with Marcel Duchamp. That humour was almost unacknowledged in a very highbrow medium where Cage’s Zen / chance ideals seemed to ‘fit’ better. Some of his work – 4’33” on one level – is audacious and full of pranksterism. Has that aspect of Cage always been an influence to you?

Laibach: Cage probably did influence us to some extent, and to express our appreciation for his conceptualism we threw him instant mushroom soup in paper packets during his last concert appearance in Ljubljana back in the mid-1980s, due to his fungi obsession.

MS: Is humour in art something that’s important to Laibach?

L: In art we mostly appreciate the deadly serious humour that cannot take a joke.

MS: The instruments you chose for the performance was a turntable and a chess board. Why did you choose that?

L: A turntable is a music instrument on which the recording of a 4’33’’ performance was reproduced. The turntable used in our performance is a special one, with the drive at its core combined of coils and magnets that make the platter levitate. Since there are no moving parts inside the instrument, and no motors that spin the platter, this is truly the quietest mechanism that does not obstruct or infect the recorded material performed and it is thus brings the feeling of zero gravity into the reproduced sounds of silence.

The chessboard for four chess players was created by Laibach in the early 1980s as our homage to Marcel Duchamp, as well as Cage’s Duchamp-inspired Chess Pieces – especially The Reunion, a piece performed in Toronto by Cage and Duchamp as a composition written for two, playing chess on a specially constructed electronic chess board.

A chess game is very much like a music composition; it has its rhythm and its intervals of sounds and silence, its tenuto and staccato. We believe that Cage created his 4’33’’ composition under the direct influence of Marcel Duchamp and his philosophy on the art of chess. He once even stated that one way to study music is to study Duchamp.

MS: Where do you go when you want silence?

L: Six feet under.

Interview: Mat Smith


Documentary Evidence review: Laibach – Nova Akropola

(c) 2019 Documentary Evidence