One of my practices is to ask collaborators to reformulate what I’m doing in order to get informed about all the stuff I and we missed on the move. I’ve asked two much appreciated artists and dear friends to write about me and my work in the format of the parlor game “If you were an car, you’d be an…” I ended up as a distinct animal and a mixtape.
Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt aka OKAPI
Written by Lucie Tuma aka half of Chuck Morris
How am I to talk about Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt? Countless ways how to enter. I will do so via an entrance of I don’t know what I am talking about. This is not some fake naivety but simply raising the attention to some of the things I don’t know about her. Particular about this here is that it is being written from a place that attempts to dissolve individual artist identity. It’s Chuck Morris. Descriptions about Cecilie leading anywhere like “… is an artist engaging with material-based processes … has a strong interest in articulating limits of criticality … focuses on her encounter with the audience … has devoted her life to dance from an age of four onwards … has worked with XXO and YYZ company … is interested in time and space … is a young Danish choreographer that recently has been gaining international attention” would not only be misleading but also sabotaging Chuck Morris’ legacy. That legacy is rooted in what once might have been at the core of collectivity. It’s not ours to have. It belongs to Chuck. While our names hide behind him in order to make things happen that would not be possible otherwise, he does gain strength from an alliance with our names. We do show up without him. It’s exactly from this stronghold that the labour of love combines with outspoken strategic positioning. Here, Chuck was born: The duo as a claim based on our own specific timing, towards another temporality than the never ending chase of unfsinished projects. We have given the next 20-50 years to Chuck. Not all of it, but quite a bit. Rigor in decision enables settings we make around rhythms of life and production means, coming out every 2-4 years or so and never for free. It’s expensive, it’s exclusive, it’s an extra that nobody needs. But for now, all I’ve been talking about is Chuck – whom I know. And this is supposed to be about her, and the things I don’t know about her, my better half as she is called from within the duo, CUS as she appears in her sending back comments on documents written together: XXX_commCUS.doc. How am I to talk about her as what she is not in relation to me, which is an awful lot and fueling the fire of how Chuck stays unexpectable and hard to get to grips with. This is where projections would come in handy, anecdote will be used instead. Anecdotes seem to be over and manifests have been coming back, but I would argue: Anecdotes manifest that actually, no, we are not into storming the winter palais. We’d rather group with Sisyphos than with Prometheus. He’s a lonely guy with a liver issue and his hands are bound. I like stones and not only is Sisyphos a happy person, he might prove to be happy due to a certain kind of humour. Yet mythology is leading astray and into reference fields one should maybe not attempt to enter at all – limiting myths, read’ em queer, find new ones, give up on them altogether.
So the actual anecdote goes like this: Late night Chuck with some pleasant group of friends in a bar the animal talk came up (similar to horoscope, style, taste or other identificatory forces the resemblance to an animal can make a person seem this or that way, appear more like herself or something – ok, projections are sneaking in through he backdoor here) – and what was found out that night was that Cecilie Ullerup Schmidt, she is OKAPI.
OKAPI /oʊˈkɑːpiː/ (Okapia johnstoni), is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest. It’s grounded and attentive to its surroundings, yet in its girrafic capacity of looking ahead perceives horizones hidden for many others. Some call it foresight, others call it excellent planning where guts, heart and brains join forces. Beautiful of course, yet in an unspectacular way. It will make you feel as though it was complete and didn’t need anything added, unusual but in a strangely familiar way. Very warm but oulala, tough. In many cases, it couldn’t care less what you think of it. Try being hosted by OKAPI: You won’t be spoilt yet you will get exactly what you need, challenged and enabled in ways you could not have come up with yourself. It’s robust yet in order to maintain its strength, needs regularity and stability. Even though it can adjust to many places, it prefers to live in the shade. This makes it still a rather rare sight, maybe exactly because it is so not special and rather common, which is somewhat generous and enormously seldom.
Cecilie’s work as a mixtape
Written by Marc Kellaway, collaborator, comrade, musician and performance artist in Distortion Girls, Flowers of Yes!, Exquisite Russian Brides, Dorothy Parker and Boy on Boy. Here about him.
If Cecilie’s work was a mixtape it would be a 10″ record as this is the format preferred to those strange projects that are neither traditional full lengths or regular EPs – objects that by their very shape falls between genres. The vinyl would be black, for even though Cecilie likes to interrogate tradition, she, also as a part of the duo Chuck Morris, acknowledges it, as in the strict formal structure of souvereines, the red theatre curtain of Feminine Fun Studies or the celebration of the theatre space in Rusland. That said, the works definitely aren’t above a bit of camp either (nothing is more camp than tradition anyway), so the cover of the black 10″ record would look like the record from Pink Narcissus.
The first track on side A would be “Jumping Through The Mirror” by The Red Krayola With Art & Language from Sighs Trapped By Liars – an album obsessed with mirrors and double images perfectly reflecting the shiny cover of a vinyl record and furthermore the mirrored web of quotations running through the work all the way from in early performances like Forvandlinger and Siebeschoenschen.
The second track on side A would be “Flower” by Sonic Youth because even though I’m not sure Cecilie would choose these terms herself, I would say that a piece like souvereines is both feminist and punk in exactly the same way as this song:
And then side A would close – because a 10″ record holds only around 11-14 minutes on each side – with a parade of the mechanical dogs from Rusland marching ever onward in an unsteady line to the sounds of “Fiery Yellow” by Stereolab.
To celebrate the more physical aspects of Cecilie’s works, we would probably get a little more electronically driven on side B and open with Matthew Herberts “September” setting the squeals of a pig getting slaughtered to queasily happy dance rhythms in a mirror of the lovely pas de duex with a dead pig Cecilie performed for her segment of Landbrug, and from here segue into one of Wolfgang Voigt’s Kafka-cut-up’s (let’s say “Kafkatrax 1.1”) as an alternative take of the multitude of mirrored voices (and again: the bodily experience) in Forvandlinger.
At this point we would need a comedown like the smoke slowly filling the theatre space in Rusland which looked just like “Permafrost” by Thomas Köner sounds, and then, after this until now slightly menacing B-side, as a happy coda embracing the challenges of being an independent artist in the age of late capitalism explored in the WORKS AT WORK-festivals, we would have “Credit In The Straight World” by Young Marble Giants followed by an excerpt from Stockhausen’s Helicopter String Quartet to let the radio driven helicopter drones from Schützen controlled by teenagers (in themselves a mirror of the child gymnasts of Rusland setting up the mechanical dogs closing side A) fly away into the sun.