During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping. This extended interview is part of an Art Spiel and Cultbytes content collaboration.
Reece Cox is a Berlin-based sound artist, DJ, and producer. Cox graduated with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from MICA and has a cerebral approach to both club music and sound. His sets and track lists have recently been published by CRACK Magazine and for further at home listening you can find his interview series on 303 Gallery, ISSUE Project Room, and Cashmere Radio.
AME: How are you coping?
RC: At the onset stress was very high but for now life has more or less stabilized. Other than the larger concerns we all worry about – the lives lost and the chain of global crises this will cause or not cause – the smaller question I keep coming back to is how this will change music. Club music is massive in Berlin and has enjoyed an impressive run internationally for years. Clubs are at the center of that economy and the life force of the genre itself. To produce dance music – or even music referential of it – is to anticipate the club where it is DJ’d, to anticipate a moving audience and sound system. With clubs closed internationally and with the probability that many if not most not reopen, club music has landed in an awkward place. It is fantastical in a literal sense – it alludes to worlds which literally does not exist – albeit temporarily.
Surely it will come back sooner or later but in what shape and size is dependent on how long this goes on and if it comes back which no one knows the answer to. What worlds do artists anticipate when they go to the studio now? What world will be there to listen?
AME: You and I first meet IRL in Stockholm! You had left your home base in Baltimore to do a residency at EMS. Now, you are based in Berlin. In what ways has being based in Berlin affected your work and process?
RC: When I lived in the US I was constantly buying books and reading things online about art and music that was compelling to me but had little to no imprint or resonance where I lived. Now these artists and writers are my neighbors. Being in Europe means I now see those conversations take place in real time all around me – sometimes I get to participate in them.
AME: Has your routine changed?
RC: Someone in my studio building got sick at the start of the outbreak and the building manager closed the whole facility for a month. This meant a lot of projects had to go on hold without warning. Now that it’s reopened my days aren’t so different from what they were before. I miss throwing dinner parties but at least in Berlin picnics are allowed.
AME: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?
RC: As an artist I’m not sure what my opinion should represent in a time like this – why should it be published? During plagues in the far past people relied on magical thinking to grasp for solutions where there were none. Today we have science, statistics, and endless data sets all being analyzed under standardized methods across the globe. Scientists should be the central authority on the matter. Unfortunately politics and a laundry list of more nuanced hurdles have jeopardized what could have been a bit more straightforward. Relying on and being subject to unqualified authorities has without question exacerbated this crisis far beyond even a shadow of what should be considered reasonable. This is not necessary.
I suppose you could put it this way: sometimes having a voice means listening up.
AME: What matters most right now?
RC: I don’t even know how to begin to answer that question but personally my dog, Daisy, is pretty high on the list.
Anna Mikaela Ekstrand is a New York-based Swedish/Guyanese independent curator and the founding editor-in-chief of Cultbytes, an online art publication focusing on interdisciplinary and non-hierarchical art criticism. Currently, she is serving as an advisor and co-curator for the inaugural “The Immigrant Artist Biennial.”