Artists' Television Access

Vexations – A 16mm Film by Mrs William Horsley

Saturday, July 13, 2024, 8:00 pm, $7-$10, classic-editor

Mrs William Horsley’s Vexations
16mm film with live mixed sound and multiple projections, 45 minutes

Matthew is a cartoonist and filmmaker based in NYC. He is the author of 1-800-MICE, INFOMANIACS, Art Comic, Looking For The Cat, the director of Fleegix (2019) The Sea Masons (2021) and previously performed in Soiled Mattress and the Springs and Ambergris. Mrs William Horsley is a cinema “band” in which the films, made in a role playing game process, are projected in ritual performance where the filmmaker narrates, creates the soundtrack live, and operates multiple film and slide projectors.


The CIA around 1959 after successful forays into the visual arts, began to infiltrate “Easy- Listening” music. They secretly funded many favorite artists like Les Baxter, Arthur Lyman, and Ferrante & Teicher as a way to bolster American global dominance, and replace European classical music with Elevator Muzak. Many Easy Listening artists reflected American colonialism in their Hawaiian or Polynesian imagery. The CIA saw potential for weaponized sound in Erik Satie’s Vexations, an infamous piano piece that repeats a simple phrase 840 times, and requires 3 days to perform. As John Cage had organized the only public airing of this work, CIA operatives recruited him to create an arrangement of Vexations for Mantovani’s orchestra, with John Cage’s prepared piano plinking out the main melody line. Breakthroughs in miniaturization technology meant a capsule of microscopic musicians performing this torturous durational piece could be used to assassinate communist targets. What happened instead was a terrible accident during the recording session in Langley, Virginia during which all the musicians were turned into ethereal gas. But the musicians are still with us. In a limbo state out of time, they gather around a piano bar and entertain each other in a kind of afterlife, physically located inside the dumpster of “The Thing” junk store in Greenpoint.

As the condo buildings shimmer into being along the shores of the East River, the waves reflected in glass awaken dematerialized musicians. One by one, they are crossfaded from limbo into our hellish real world… in which the imperialist musical project has prevailed in endlessly Spotified coffee-shopping Furniture Music…

One member of the Edith Piaf Fan Club- a romantic graffiti collective- complaining of a toothache, is turned into ethereal gas by a dentist who will sacrifice their teeth to the waves. An X-Ray tech tries to break the news and soon investigative journalists are searching for the missing records. As human dogs walk the inverted world, only the Living Newspapers, swaying like trees in a park, have the chance to remember the whole story on their paper pulp bodies.


a Film and projection performance by Mrs William Horsley studio
directed, edited, performed by Matthew Thurber, 2021-23
Starring Floyd Tangeman, Jack Reese, Sarah Lammer, She’Knead This Gig, Kade McClements, Austin English, Marlene Frontera, Nino Mora, Fiona Szende, Jodi Gay-Cooper, Marc Bell, Jennifer May Reiland, Joey Frank, Tony Groutsis, Jennifer May Reiland, Ashton Carless, Nathaniel Hendrickson

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