Sowing art in the bitter soil of Boston since 2001

Eve Essex AIR Project Statement

“How to Improve the World” is a project that blurs the roles of artist and anthropologist.

My object of study will be the Marxist composer Cornelius Cardew and his avant-garde musical milieu of the 60s and 70s.  I wish to adopt the political battles waged in Cardew’s social and musical life as the subject for a historical archive and library. 

Through video, interviews, writing, and collaborative performances in the guise of “historical reenactments” I will collect and fabricate a range of historical recordings and documents—a body of generated materials that make up the collection of this library.  This factual, albeit highly subjective history will serve a theatrical framework for investigations of the artist’s role as public intellectual, and the mythical status of canonical modern artists. 

My central focus will be a recreation of Cardew’s “Scratch Orchestra.” Active in the late 60s and early 70s, this Marxist orchestra, made up of musicians, non-musicians, and performance artists, was originally founded not in practice but in print. Their manifesto, “Draft Constitution for a Scratch Orchestra,” will serve as the score for the creation of a new, fully functional ensemble.