Sunday, May 14, 2017

Gianna Gianna Brings Out the Straight Razor in "Carnal Jazz Cry", "Crown" and "Anvil Chorus / Orange"

Photo by Ryan Bussard

As one part of the sibling trio BLOK who since 2008 blended hip hop, underground rap and an avant-garde art punk aesthetic garnering OC Music Awards and spreads in Spin (USA) and Nylon (Japan) as well as sharing stages with Peaches, Major Lazer, Yelawolf, Reggie Watts, Andrew WK and more- Gianna Gianna has cut her own path as well as a poet and solo artist. 

The statuesque avant-garde provocateur is often an art piece herself and I don't just mean on stage where her ebb and flow of explosiveness and steely stare can make you freeze in your tracks. Even entering a room and not necessarily being the center of attention you might find your eyes just automatically drawing to her. Her anti-pastiche style of dress blends eras and her look feels like 1950's Italian glamour, meets 80's urban, meets Blade Runner. As with all avant-garde laced music / art I admit I don't always get it. Seeing and hearing Gianna Gianna pushing envelopes has, for me, it's share of WTF moments. 

I remember years ago when I first saw the 1929 short Un Chien Andalou directed by now surrealist darling Luis Bunuel with conceptual help from Salvador Dali. The short 16 minute film that opens with the infamous eye slicing scene and then is followed by a series of unrelated imagery. The result is total weirdness because each scene are out of context to something larger or maybe not. Some are shot with a sense of beauty but contain disturbing things. In short, Un Chien Andalou has plenty of WTF moments. Bunuel and Dali were trying really trying to skewer surrealism and challenge the French elitist avant-garde mindset of the day but in the end the class of people they were trying to give the artistic "fuck you" to embraced the film. To this day I still wonder whose hand that was the woman was poking with the stick (?). Surrealists always seem to have a penchant for the grotesque and I won't even begin to skim the surface of Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Gianna Gianna's video's and musical artwork does, to me, have many musical eye slicing moments and while she doesn't dabble that much in the grotesque there is a feral nature to her movements offset by her red blooded beauty and raw eroticism. The sounds and prose perplex me in that "mommy, we are not in Kansas anymore" and in many of her art / vision / sound pieces I do get the sense that there are feminist and anti-feminist themes and maybe even a challenging of the feminist bourgeoisie. Oh, and yes, plenty of WTF moments. What does it all mean?  Maybe it doesn't really matter because music and all art is more of a Rorschach test for our creative soul now isn't it?

In the end it is best not to talk about the avant-garde but just to show it.
Check it out below-
Robb Donker

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