Westobou Festival: Body/Head will give voice to silent 'Joan of Arc' film

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Body/Head, with Kim Gordon and Bill Nace, will perform the score for The Passion of Joan of Arc.
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The electric guitars don’t make Body/Head a rock band.

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The Passion of Joan of Arc, written by Carl Theodor Dreyer, is considered a crowning achievement of the silent-film era. See it on opening night of Westobou.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
The Passion of Joan of Arc, written by Carl Theodor Dreyer, is considered a crowning achievement of the silent-film era. See it on opening night of Westobou.

Though Kim Gordon, best known for her work with the pioneering noise-rock act Sonic Youth, has roots in a band built around expanding the definitions of what rock and roll might be, her new collaboration with guitarist Bill Nace eschews the backbeat and hard hooks found in traditional touring acts. Instead, Body/Head builds its songs around fluid improvisation, playing as focused on textures as tunes and the belief that art isn’t defined by the tools used to produce it.

Body/Head appears Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Sacred Heart Cultural Center, presenting a live score to the silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc. The performance is part of this year’s Westobou Festival.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Nace said the goal is always to bring some structure to musical chaos and a little free-form chaos to the strictures of traditional songwriting. He admitted it’s “a weird line to straddle.”

Part of the Body/Head stage shows involves playing in front of films. An established visual artist as well as a writer, designer and musician, Gordon told Pitchfork.com that as an artist who often thinks visually, there’s comfort in incorporating visuals into a musical performance.

“I don’t really look at them while we’re playing, but having them makes me feel less nervous,” she told the online journal.

The Passion of Joan of Arc, written by Carl Theodor Dreyer, is considered a crowning achievement of the silent-film era. Released in 1928, the film is remembered for its innovative use of close-up photography and quick-cut editing as a narrative device, the devastating (and only) film performance of Renee Maria Falconetti and the film’s loss and rediscovery.

When the master print was thought destroyed by fire, Dreyer was forced to reassemble it using outtakes. Later, the original cut was discovered, in near-perfect condition, in a Norwegian mental institution more than 50 years after its initial release.

Although written and produced to be accompanied by live music, there is no record of an original score. In recent years, accompaniment has been provided by composer Richard Einhorn, indie rock icon Cat Power and now the improvisational Body/Head.

Tickets for are $25 in advance from westoboufestival.com and $30 at the door.

Other events scheduled for the 2013 Westobou Festival include:

FILM

VERSAILLES ’73 – This fashion documentary will be presented at a limited seating luncheon at Sacred Heart Cultural Center and will feature a discussion with fashion icon and the film’s narrator Cameron Silver and director/producer Deborah Riley Draper. (11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2; Sacred Heart Cultural Center, 1301 Green St.; $50 advance)

MUSIC

JOHNNYSWIM – This rising bluesy folk-soul duo recently appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and A Prairie Home Companion and, performing in support of its recent release Heart Beats, recently performed at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. (8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3; Parade Grounds at the Old Richmond Academy, 540 Telfair St.; $25 advance, $30 at the gate)

T. HARDY MORRIS – This Augusta-bred talent, best known for his work with Dead Confederate, has garnered a lot of attention for his new solo record Audition Tapes, released July 30. (Friday, Oct. 4; Parade Grounds at the Old Richmond Academy, 540 Telfair St.; free)

VISUAL ARTS

Spread across a variety of venues, the visual arts at Westobou are as much about venue as the art on display.

OLD RICHMOND ACADEMY GALLERY – The centerpiece of the Westobou art experience, this collection of artists, curated by Raoul Pacheco, includes work by Augusta artists Baker Overstreet, Chad Tolley and Kathy Engler; conceptual installation sculptor Derek Larson; ceramic artist Matt Mitros; Berkley-based art potter Ehren Tool; the pop art-inspired amalgamations of Hollis Brown Thornton and the rolling interactive environmental art gallery of Jeff Schmuki and Wendy DesChene.

Screenings of T. Hardy Morris’s Endangered Places videos, which feature live performances from Audition Tapes played in some of Georgia’s most iconic endangered structures, will also be shown. (Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Wednesday, Oct. 2, to Sunday, Oct. 6)

REX GALLERY AT THE JB WHITE’S BUILDING – A joint exhibition by three Morris Eminent Scholars – Philip Morsberger, Tom Nakashima and Ben Willis. (Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday, Oct. 2, to Sunday, Oct. 6)

MARY BYRD GALLERY AT THE GRU SUMMERVILLE CAMPUS – The Byrd Gallery will feature the large-scale work of photographer David Maisel, whose work explores the ways man interacts with, and ultimately affects, his environment. (Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday, Oct. 2, to Sunday, Oct. 6)

ARTS AND HERITAGE CENTER OF NORTH AUGUSTA – The Arts and Heritage Center will host the Clay Potters of the Southeast. This popular exhibition has become a Westobou tradition. (Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday, Oct. 2, to Saturday, Oct. 5)

GALLERY CRAWL – For those wanting to get a concentrated dose of Westobou’s visual art offerings, a trolley-driven gallery crawl, with stops at all four venues, will be offered Friday, Oct. 4. Tickets are $10 in advance.

DANCE

THE COLOR RUN – This 5K run, presented in conjunction with the Greater Augusta Sports Council, features DJs and clouds of brightly colored pigment transforming the course into a piece of action art. (9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5; start and finish at the Old Richmond Academy on Telfair; $45 individual, $40 per team member; register at thecolorrun.com/augusta)

MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP – This widely acclaimed dance company will make its Augusta debut with an evening of dance and music at Imperial Theatre. Pieces scheduled include Grand Duo, Jenn and Spencer, Going Away Party and Canonic ¾ Studies. (8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5; Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.; $55, $65, $75)

WORDS

AN EVENING WITH ROY BLOUNT JR. – Garden and Gun mag­a­zine’s resident humorist’s career includes more than 20 books and hundreds of columns and essays. He appears regularly on National Public Radio’s Wait Wait …Don’t Tell Me and, as a writer and public speaker, is part of the Mark Twain/H.L. Mencken tradition. (7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6; Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.; $25)

STARKEY FLYTHE CELEBRATION – Join friends and colleagues of Starkey Flythe Jr. as they pay tribute to the late Augusta writer. Georgia Regents University Assistant Professor Matthew Buzzell, director of the Flythe portrait film The Moment Before the Song Begins, will lead the event. (3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6; The Old Richmond Academy; $10)


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