BONE MUSIC ... what would you risk for the music you love?
The X-Ray Audio Exhibition
In the USSR during the cold war era, the music people could listen to was ruthlessly controlled by the State. But a secret underground subculture of music lovers and bootleggers defied the censor. Incredibly, they built their own recording machines and used an extraordinary means of copying forbidden jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and banned Russian music to risk making their own records.
BONE MUSIC is curated by the X-Ray Audio Project (UK), Stephen Coates and Paul Heartfield, in association with Cardboardia (RUS) and buero doering – Fachhandel für Ereignisse and supported by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds and the Bezirksamt Lichtenberg, Amt für Weiterbildung und Kultur.
The Bone Music exhibition produced at Villa Heike tells the tale of a unique underground phenomenon that existed in the USSR between the 1940s and the 1960s where underground technology, forbidden culture, recycling, Cold War politics and human creativity intersect.
It was a time when a daring subculture of bootleggers re-purposed X-ray film to make recordings of forbidden foreign jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and Russian émigré songs.
The exhibition immerses the audience in their world with historical artefacts, ephemera, sound, films and installations and explores their activities that were both a defiant act of cultural protest and one of ingenious enterprise.
Look forward to two more exciting events accompanying the exhibition! Until September 5, you can get to the bottom of the unusual history of music on X-rays. The BONE MUSIC exhibition is open Thu-Sun from 12-8 pm. The question of what people risked for “their” music back in the GDR will be the focus of the open day at the Hohenschönhausen Memorial on August 28. Curator Stephen Coates will explain the history of BONE MUSIC in more detail, while the musicians Christian Kunert and Salli Sallmann, who were formerly imprisoned in Hohenschönhausen, will play and record live on an X-ray. On September 3, you will have the opportunity to visit the free exhibition at the Lange Nach der Bilder Lichtenberg until midnight.
BONE MUSIC Berlin
“I took this soft, flexible record in my hands and looked at it through the light, and I saw the image of bones. Immediately, this fascinated me. Then I put the record on my mother’s gramophone and I heard a voice singing. I was stupefied. I asked him, “Who is this?”” –
Kolya Vasin, b. 1945, Leningrad, bone record buyer
“It was Freedom, Freedom in music. We were young. It was my energy. I am a culture trader. Maybe God told me to do it. I hate official culture and I love culture that comes up from the underground. I have done it all my life and I will continue to do it until the end” – Rudy Fuchs, b. 1937, Luga, bone record bootlegger
Registration in advance is not required. A restriction of the number of visitors is carried out in accordance with the applicable Infection Protection Ordinance.
About X-Ray Audio Projekt
The project is devoted to the history of music recorded on x-ray. It has evolved into an ongoing research initiative that has produced an online archive, an award winning film, BBC radio documentary, several publications and broadcasts in addition to the BONE MUSIC exhibition and live events.. For more information see www.x-rayaudio.com.
Stephen Coates is a music producer, writer and broadcaster. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, he is particularly interested in the interaction between music and culture. He founded the project after coming across x-ray recordings when travelling to Russia to perform in 2013. He is the author of ‘X-Ray Audio: The Strange Story of Soviet Music on the Bone’ (2015) and the upcoming ‘Bone Music’ (2021).
Paul Heartfield is one of London’s most experienced portraitists. He has worked extensively in the music industry, photographing many international bands and musicians over the last decade. He is the regular portrait and archive photographer for the Houses of Commons and Lords in Westminster and has photographed most of the senior British politicians of the last few years.
“The project is a labor of love researched over many years, an archive of samizdat creativity, cultural resistance, daring entrepreneurialism. It uses forensic snapshots of physical bodies in order to shed light on a spellbindingly obscure subgenre of discography, and as a portal into a little-known but imaginatively intoxicating chapter in postwar communist history.” –
Sukhdev Sandhu, Professor of English, Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
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