Andrew Petrie

Critical meltdown

Critical meltdown
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Antony’s Meltdown

Southbank Centre, 1-12 August

If the River of Music put you in the mood for stimulating sounds on the banks of the Thames, next week’s Meltdown at the Southbank Centre, also part of the London 2012 Festival, is well-timed. Meltdown’s later-than-usual slot should earn it a little reflected Olympic glory, though it’s hard to imagine anyone less suggestive of healthful outdoor pursuits than this year’s curator, surname-free singer and visual artist Antony (above), who looks as if he has spent his life shunning daylight in some windowless New York dive.

Antony has put together a line-up of radical musicians and performance artists, wanting, he says, ‘to create a kind of paradise’ in which his fellow demi-mondaines can ‘reject patriarchy in its myriad virulent and apocalyptic manifestations’. This means hosting singular female performers such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Diamanda Galás, Laurie Anderson (herself a former Meltdown curator) and Cocteau Twins singer Liz Fraser, whose first full live shows since 1998 are described by Antony as ‘the centrepiece of the festival’.

Also in store are an orchestrated version of William Basinski’s ‘Disintegration Loops’, a hit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 last year, and four rarely seen Super 8 films by Derek Jarman with new soundtracks composed for the event. Hardly mainstream choices, then, but creditably high-minded amid the populist madness of the Games.

— Andrew Petrie