This is not the usual fare. A few weeks ago I was invited to come and take photos at the third Black Metal Theory Symposium, which I wrote about before here, and which took place in the The Pint Bar in Dublin. There were supposed to be some bands playing after the talks but these cancelled a few days beforehand. The organizers suggested I come along anyway and do long exposure photographs of the speakers. The one above is Nicola Masciandaro delivering his paper entitled On The Mystical Love Of Black Metal. I wasn’t timing the presentations but Nicola spoke for well over 20 minutes, so the above shot is a long exposure indeed.
I’m still not quite sure what to make of the whole event. Many of the talks were of a dense philosophical nature that really required a background in various arcane branches of theory to properly get to grips with. I was also somewhat thrown by the fact that all of the talks consisted of the presenter reading out a prepared text, with no space for dialogue with the audience. After a while though, I realised that this had more in common with a literary reading than with the sorts of conferences that I would have attended in the past, and the texts themselves were so precisely and carefully constructed that it wouldn’t have made much sense to present them as improvised summations of the key ideas contained within them.
One talk I really enjoyed was by Karin Selberg who spoke about the performance artist Franko B and the parallels that can be drawn between the kind of ritualised self-mutilation he incorporated into his work and the antics of Dead, the deceased singer of Norwegian black metal band Mayhem, who used to regularly cut himself with knives onstage. While the art gallery and the metal concert are worlds apart, in this case what’s going on is strikingly similar. Allegedly after Dead killed himself, his fellow band members made necklaces out of pieces of his skull and handed them out as gifts to various people active in the black metal scene. It’s unclear whether this is actually true or not but if it is then no doubt one will pop up on eBay eventually (that is if Charles Saatchi or someone like that doesn’t get to it first).