December 2nd 2017 "The Solo Show" 7pm-12am @ SOCH
“ our bodies are borrowed.
our joys are borrowed.
our tears are borrowed.
our fates are borrowed. ”
We are. Introducing PHILTH HAUS.
Installation View, "XO Utero" Manhattan (2017)
PHILTH HAUS is a collective of artists, performers, musicians, and conceptualizers. They are provoking, prodding, and producing a body of work that forces audiences to confront their learned experiences head on.
I first encountered a PHILTH HAUS performance inside an intimate Boston living room. A single blacklight hung from the ceiling and illuminated the wax castings of Andra’s hands and feet that lay on the floor. Beside those sat a shattered porcelain toilet. A centerpiece. That pungent smell of warm ivory wax was as unforgettable as Andra’s appetite for it. Andra G.G., the founder of PHILTH HAUS, entered with their accompanying musicians, each one deliberate and calm, and gave an unrelenting, hour-long noise music experience to an enamored audience. Tortured, agonizing, curious, and beautiful, their presence created a setting for a unique exploration and confrontation with the self as Andra chewed on their various wax appendages.
Guided by exercises in vulnerability, Andra’s recent collection of work and series of performances explore the body as a simultaneously fragile entity and vehicle for control.
Andra, "Miss Piss" at Queenshead, Cambridge
Last month, PHILTH HAUS hit the road with a friend, an armful of jewelry, fake nails from CVS, and that same shattered toilet. With 80’s music blasting, they made way to Manhattan to distribute XO UTERO | megaZine ii. In front of a prominent Chelsea gallery, their work was distributed and performed to the audience of passerbys.
“This is really great, but cannot be left in front of the gallery,” said the Pace Gallery attendant as he ushered Andra down the block.
Installation View, "XO Utero" Manhattan (2017)
In a recent interview with Andra, they described their work as one that can inflict a “soft bruise” whereby the painfulness of confrontation allows for growth, understanding, and awareness.
In anticipation of their upcoming exhibition, we sat down with PHILTH HAUS (in the Harvard Carpenter Center’s janitor closet, no less) to discuss their upcoming show, their inspiration, and their knack for street scavenging. At The Solo Show, we can certainly expect a series of soft bruises. On December 2nd, the Harvard Student Art Collective presents PHILTH HAUS with performances by experimental noise collectiveLucretius (2019).Doors are at 7pm with performances throughout the evening.
The exhibition will run from December 2nd-8th 2017 at SOCH (59 Shepard St. Cambridge) The gallery will be open from 8am-12am.
Installation View, PHILTH, "Bathroomb" (2017)
This cannot be experienced online. Your presence is MANDATORY.
BAR: What does the name Andra mean to you?
ANDRA: The first prong of my name has to do with Andy Warhol and that social anxiety we both share. I was always inspired by his use of the “Andy Suit” as I guess it was called, and being able to put on sunglasses, a blonde wig, a certain outfit, and to separate whatever character the was from yourself, and that character not having all the anxieties and fears that reflects you as a person. That was the initial comfort I found in that figure and what brought me eventually into my artistic practice. The other component is ‘Andra,’ coming fromAndro, or man in ancient greek. The ‘A’ being a feminization of that, and a reference, in a way, to androgyny. The final thing– the most wordplay and simple of them– is that in my original name, Philip Albert Nadishah Chowdry, the ‘a’ and ’n’ marks that median point.
BAR: We previously discussed your performances, like the bathroom scene and the quasi-gallery takeover, but in your upcoming performance you also continue to experiment with noise music.
ANDRA: I’ve been working with an old friend, but now we’re sort of working partners too I guess. these projects are collaborations between PHILTH HAUS and my friend Max Lesser (aka Lucretius); He uses Lucretius as a pseudonym for making noise music. originally he was trained in classical composition, and now turning to noise, and me being a friend of his, it seemed like a natural pairing. We’ve found an intersection between us. Noise is so evocative of chaos. It’s very very raw and non-composed.
BAR: some might claim that noise music is abrasive or difficult to experience. Have you all experimented with the role that this music plays as a performative aspect of your collective?
ANDRA: Yeah, I think that there are many moments in which noise is abrasive because it is so raw and doesn’t try to be composed in any way. It is very improvisational. As a result, the feeling or sense of rawness creates a great level of depth. There are moments of great abrasiveness but also incredible moments of great euphoria. In this regard, it relates directly to classical composition because the same spectrum of emotions are capable of being employed.
BAR:So there’s a lot of interplay occurring during your performances. When I saw your piece I noticed that there were moments where you and the musicians were connecting, or the audience and you were connecting but these moments weren’t necessarily harmonious. Do you think this translates into how your work is generally received? Do you think that there are areas for all audiences to see themselves in your work?
ANDRA: Absolutely. I mean I would hope so. The greatest thing that I would hope for my work to do, beyond the message and beyond my intent, is that I would like for someone to come into contact with the work and for them to be invited it in, to be seduced by the work first, and then to receive a slight bruising. A very delicate bruising. I think it’s really easy to be hyperintellectual with the work. To make it so focused in your mind. Or for it to be really shocking and provocative. Really something that kind of stabs. And the problem with the first is that I perceive [the hyperintellectual] to be very boring. And the problem with the second is that oftentimes, when people are stabbed like that, they tend to walk away from the pain and the impact. And I think that the place I would like my work to exist in is the bruise–a weight in their chest
BAR: A reminder of a once open wound perhaps…
ANDRA: Yes! Something that lingers and breaths. It might be unpleasant, but in a somewhat welcomed way. In the same way, some of my own greatest tragedies, such as the tragedy of my mother, is that it’s painful, but I would never want that pain to go away, because that’s my connection to her. Despite the pain, I want to retain agency over it.