polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Performance Space

by Andrew Wade

Vincent Moon has created something spectacular not only for music fans and film enthusiasts, but for an understanding of urban life.  His concerts à emporter (take-away shows) operate as brief, beautifully framed cinematic landscapes that capture a (usually indie) band's live performance.  Originating the series in Paris, he has followed bands to cities such as Buenos Aires, Montréal, Los Angeles and Phnom Penh.  The films often document musicians moving through public urban space, while capturing as a by product the candid reactions of locals to both the music and the camera.

The most revealing concerts à emporter emerge when local artists are followed in their own cities, leading the camera through the streets and occasionally into cafés, private houses or public transport, allowing a song to speak of the city that nurtured its creation.  A unique portrait of Valparaíso emerges when Fernando Milagros performs while tracing its streets in the back of a truck, layering a soundtrack to the passing buildings.  In many ways an unrehearsed song speaks more to the essence of place than a formal guided tour.

The performances act as momentary interventions that elaborate relationships between musician, citizen and city, naturally distilling the ethos of an urban environment.
"By a person's ethos we mean his or her character, nature, or disposition. Similarly we speak of a community's ethos, referring to the spirit that presides over its activities. 'Ethos' here names the way human beings exist in the world: thier way of dwelling. By the ehtical function of architecture I mean its task to help articulate a common ethos"
Can cities be measured in terms of fulfilment of their ethical function - their unhindered expression of a collective ethos?

Credits: Video of Onda Vaga in Buenos Aires from Vincent Moon / petites planetes on Vimeo.  Quote of Karsten Harries from The Ethical Function of Architecture, MIT Press 1997, p4. Video of Sharon Van Etten in Brooklyn, New York from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.