Oporto: Night Works For Workers' Day

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An 8 hour night shift run by Phill Niblock, Michel Giacometti, Martha Colburn and a chorus of master musicians fuelling the steam of resistance

Starting either at midnight of April 30th or at the zero hour of May 1st
Every two hours of film followed by an hour long session of improv music

Featuring the works:
- The Movement of People Working, 1973–1991 16mm film transferred to video and independent sound track by Phill Niblock,
- O Alar da Rede, 1962 35mm transferred to DVD,  by Michel Giacommetti,
- Hammer-Camera-Scissors (The Workers of Jacob Lawrence), 2018, multi channel video installation by Martha Colburn,

In 2017, at the World Barista Championship in Seoul, the Japanese contestant Yuki Mishima asked for Coldplay’s theme The Clocks as a metronome for an elaborate choreography with the expresso machine. Her winning brew was accomplished by the flawless performance of the movements of double grinding coffee and serving it on a freshly made porcelain cup. For the barista, sound is used to attain minute precision on the product and works as a painkiller for the long hours standing producing latte art.

In 1962, Michel Giacometti, the Che Guevara of Portuguese popular culture, did a first attempt to record surviving “work songs” while aboard the fishing boat Nicete, in the Atlantic coast, he heard a sound that challenged his definition of music. As the fishermen pulled the nets they sang in a hummed continuum, much like an Inuit breathing game. Its unpaced modulation mimicked the anarchich individual pulls of the net, putting the workers in a sort of trance while atuning their energy to endure the herculean task of keeping the net in tension. The arrhythmia of this fishermen song is different from other work songs, such as the Blues or Calypso where the individual suffering is central to the catharsis against social injustice.

The independent animator Martha Colburn has spent long hours doing painstaking labour with camera, brush and scissors, moving things step by step. A true believer in arts power for social change, she fights bigotry with her “hand-to-hand combat films". In 2017, commissioned by the Black Mountain College, Colburn appropriated the work of Jacob Lawrence, an early modernist black painter, who had once taught at the institute. Lawrence's paintings exposed the hard living of African American communities from the beginning of the century until the sixties and Colburn’s animation unleashes a mix of individual despair trapped in miserable monotonous hard work and the joy of a community building a post-war America.

In 1973, intermedia champion Phill Niblock began a compulsive anthology of human activity, a world tour to film the movement of people at work. Instead of a subjective image of these communities, mostly rural and fighting against extinction, he focused on collecting samples of the rhythm of repetitive tasks. These behaviouristic portraits of high scientific value register the patterns of muscular adaptation to mechanistic work. Usually displayed in different screens, these perpetual motion machines are accompanied by the artist's rigorous minimal sound, a dynamic duo in muscular dialogue. Sound however is and always has been Niblock's elected medium for chance inviting musicians to collaborate in long and loud night owl sessions.

This all night session will be charged by coffee, made according to a Sephardic or Islamic recipe still in use in the region of Ourem's Castle in Portugal:

Bring to a simmer 10 litres of water, mix in 2 kg of a ground mix of arabic-robusta coffee beans; before water starts boiling throw in a piece of live coal to decant the coffee giving it a smokey flavour.


Oporto - Lisboa, Portugal


Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 00:00 to Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 07:55



Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 00:00 to Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 07:55


  • Salvador Correia de Sá, 42, 2 frente
    1200-399   Lisboa
    38° 42' 31.8384" N, 9° 8' 51.4356" W