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August 18 2012

Backstage at Antony's Meltdown 2012: in pictures

Antony's mantra for this year's Meltdown was 'female voices and a few queens.'
Observer portrait photographer Katherine Rose went behind-the-scenes

July 31 2012

Meltdown 2012: What are you looking forward to?

The Antony Hegarty-curated Meltdown festival begins this week. Here's a look ahead to some of the programme highlights

This year's Meltdown festival at the Southbank Centre in London is curated by the musician and visual artist Antony Hegarty. He first emerged from the New York underground scene with Antony and the Johnsons in 1998 and shot to prominence with the Mercury prize-winning album I am a Bird Now.

Since then, critical acclaim has followed each of his projects including the albums The Crying Light and Swanlights. He's also collaborated with several other musicians and performance artists. Here are some things coming up ...

Antony Hegarty: "We need more oestrogen-based thinking"

As Antony Hegarty prepares to curate this year's Meltdown event in London, he talks about the artists who have had the greatest influence on his life and career – and why "future feminism" will make the world a better place

Q&As with Joan as Police Woman, Lou Reed and Kim Cattrall

We've got lots of great interviews with members of the Meltdown lineup for you to read. There's Joan As Police Woman talking about the political side of Antony's music and the new songs she's written especially for the festival. There's Lou Reed praising the inventive Meltdown lineup and Kim Cattrall giving us a sneak preview of her speech on Cleopatra. There are also Q&As with Marina Abramović and Marc Almond too, not to mention a great Dorian Lynskey piece on the New York artists of the 70s and 90s who walked on the wild side.

Antony's Guardian music site takeover

For more Antony-related goodies, and to get more of an idea of some of the wonderful artists he's booked for the festival, head back to October 2010 when he took over the Guardian's music site. There's an interview with Björk, an audio slideshow of Antony's art and a mind-boggling piece of performance art as Claywoman pays tribute to Christopher Hitchens. Antony also commissioned our New Band of the Day series for the week, highlighting the work of artists on the Meltdown bill such as The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black.

Elizabeth Fraser: "I'm so excited to have made this decision to perform"

Since the Cocteau Twins split 15 years ago, their otherworldly singer has lived a quiet life in Bristol. But in August, as part of Hegarty's Meltdown festival, the one-time darling of the music press will sing her own songs for the first time this century. So what prompted her change of heart?

Meltdown 2012 Spotify playlist

To mark his Meltdown, London's Southbank Centre has put together the playlist below, which you can listen to if you have Spotify. It features several artists already announced for the festival, including the ex-Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Fraser.

The South Bank's Meltdown playlist: listen on Spotify

Meltdown – share your thoughts

We'll be heading to as many corners of Meltdown as we can manage but, of course, what we want to know most is how it's been for you.
If you're tweeting then tag your tweets #MeltdownFest and ensure we see them by posting to @GuardianMusic. We'll be publishing the best ones. You can also leave all your comments, reviews and wild opinions here on our open thread.

The Observer is Meltdown's media partner, and there's much more coverage here. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

July 29 2012

Meltdown 2012 – Marina Abramovic: 'Artists can do whatever they want'

Why men will be banned from Marina Abramovic's Meltdown show

Performance artist best known for her 2010 work, The Artist is Present, in which for three months she invited visitors to take turns sitting opposite her at New York's MoMA gallery

What does Antony mean to you?

Rufus Wainwright invited me to his Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall and Antony sang a song called Snowy Angel. The moment he opened his mouth, I stood up from my seat. His voice hit me in my stomach. It was so emotional and so incredible. Later on we met and talked, and we became friends. To me, he is somebody who has just fallen from the sky, like an angel. It's not just the singing, it's the poetry in his words, and the issues he's interested in – taking responsibility for our planet, being open about gender.

How do you feel about being invited to play his Meltdown?

When he asked me to do a talk at Meltdown just for women, I really had to think about it. I am very clear that I am not a feminist. It puts you into a category and I don't like that. An artist has no gender. All that matters is whether they make good art or bad art. So I thought about it, but then I said yes.

What do you have planned?

The title of my lecture for women is The Spirit In Any Condition Does Not Burn It's new and exciting for me to do this. Right now I'm on holiday and almost every day I'm thinking how I'm going to handle this talk, and every day it's changing. I'm interested in asking: what does feminine energy mean? The Dalai Lama said he wants to return as a woman. I don't have answers – I just have questions and interesting examples.

What if any men try to sneak in?

When Antony asked me to do this, I was very radical. You want me to do women? Then the men will not come. That's it. He said, what about the people who feel, though they're in a male body, that they're women? That's fine, I said, but all the rest, they're excluded. Why not do something strange and different for once? Artists can do whatever they want! I'm really open to seeing what will happen and what consequences it will have.

Will you be watching any of the other acts at Meltdown?

I hope to stay at least for five days and see as much as possible. I want to see Diamanda Galas because I know and admire her work. Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson are good friends, and I will go and see them. But I am really interested in performers I don't know that much. I want to see all of Antony's choices.

Are there any new artists you'd recommend at the moment?

There's such an interesting artist called William Basinski, who is from Los Angeles. He makes endless loops, a very meditative type of music that gives you a distorted sense of time. He's worked with Antony for a long time but it was a discovery for me, listening to him.

Who'd be on your Meltdown bill?

I would focus on long-durational works of art. Everything would be more than six hours, so people actually have to create time in order to see the work. If I could not find contemporary pieces I would like to commission different artists because I think long-durational work is something we need, because life is so fast. I would also have some historical pieces made, like the work of John Cage, which would take several hours to be executed. But I would also think about young artists doing something with music, dance and performance. I will have to make a list of names and get back to you. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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