Abstract Turntablist Maria Chavez on the Freedom to Live Creatively

Guest Session with abstract turntablist Maria Chavez at Catalyst Berlin

Focusing on her book, 'Of Technique: Chance Procedures on Turntable', Maria Chavez invited our music students and the public to discuss serendipity in our recent Guest Session.

As above, so below. The infinite creativity of the universe is at play inside all of us. From work to way of life, to be creative is to experiment, take risks, make mistakes and persist. Perfectly precarious, is it any wonder creatives have always found it hard to thrive within a nine-to-five framework? Get up, go to work, go home, switch off, was how the typical week used to shape up. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, we’re always switched on.

The opportunity to instantly connect with like minds all over the planet has allowed creatives to start living by their own rules. Older generations who endorse the ‘sensible path’ watch in disbelief as their children make thousands from their bedrooms. Even the most obscure or niche artists can garner a global following. As New York-based abstract turntablist, conceptual sound artist and DJ Maria Chavez rightly reflected, “The freedom to make fuels my creativity. I’m grateful to live in a time where I can live a life making art. That wouldn’t have been possible 50 years ago.”

We were lucky enough to glean Maria’s wisdom when she visited us last month for a special Guest Session. Focusing on her excellent book, Of Technique: Chance Procedures on Turntable, Maria invited our music students and the public to discuss serendipity by illustrating chance operations on the turntable and in sound art installations. In the pure essence of creativity, the book explores the values and lessons derived from chance encounters, mistakes, improvisation and happy coincidences. By introducing participants to the hands-on approach of abstract turntablism, they experienced the tactile interaction between the turntable, records and the needle.

This fall and winter Maria has been on a worldwide tour, teaching DJing and performing her solo turntable work for Le Guess Who? Festival and the Ableton Loop Festival in LA, along with many events around Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Maria’s improvised solo performance combines recorded and electroacoustic sounds from vinyl records and the needle in various deteriorating phases. Her conceptual sound installation practice tends to be site specific, allowing each space to highlight its own sonic qualities. Often interactive, Maria’s solo exhibitions range from spatial sound presentations to turning an entire art space into a gigantic string instrument for the audience to perform. Impressive as it sounds!

Catch a glimpse of Maria Chavez’s inspiring art in the video below and check out her website for more.

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