Back to Konfrontationen 2022

Heads or Tails: Looking for the Cor of Meaning-Making

Listening to Cor Fuhler's music is like playing with a best friend on a playground. You could be 4 or 44 or 114 ¼. His music makes you feel huge and small at the same time; huge because everything is within your grasp: dirt, jumping up and down, swinging, falling, bleeding, laughing, running, crying, laughing again, climbing, laughing even more, crying even more, eating dirt, making a friend, fighting, getting dizzy, running for no reason, waiting for someone to come say hi, sleeping on the slide. All of it.

And it makes you feel small because it makes the world feel even bigger, like when you're so small a 7-year-old seems huge. His music touches every emotion and it touches each one hard, holds it right there, pushes right into it, and doesn't let you go. He passed on July 19, 2020 and I found out the next day. I happened to have his 2004 Corkestra CD in my stereo at the moment, with the digipak unfolded and on display. I had been prepping an essay about the Konfrontationen festival in Nickelsdorf, and was thinking about how momentous the Corkestra performance was in 2005. When I looked at the artwork after receiving the news, all I could do was shake my head and wither. His passing hurt me to the bone and beyond, to the hole in the bone through which all the nutrients pass. I didn't know him personally, but I knew his music deeply. And his music––plus his invented instruments, his writings, and his art––all indicated the soul of a friend and an absolute blessing to the artistic universe. For those that knew him beyond his works, I imagined devastation and I wanted to send all possible consolations.

I swiftly began assembling a tribute to him and his music. I listened to every recording I had by him over the next week. His music touched every emotion I could conceive of while genuinely inciting combinations of feelings I wasn't aware could be conjoined: I desperately experienced tender awe, affectionate disgust, triumphant misery, tranquil horror, and gloomy rapture. The radio show I made in 2020 is in two parts, totalling over two hours. My entry point is my experience of his music being so primarily playful. Not childish, but simultaneously young, wise, immature, and knowing: curious and deceitful; bashful and disingenuous; generous and cantankerous.

I keep talking about emotions because his work is so multi-directional and sensate. He conjures the sensation of the way emotions move so fast when a child, when you're in such little control of them. My favorite pieces of his are included in that radio show, and this text is written on the occasion of his co-memoriam tribute (with Peter Rehberg) concert with MIMEO upcoming at the 42nd Nickelsdorf Konfrontationen. As it happens, the first time I ever saw Fuhler play was at the 18th edition of the festival in 1997 – the debut of MIMEO. Thinking about this next concert beforehand, I'm filled with a lightning-bolted zig zag of emotions, typical of how affecting his music has always been for me.

I have to leave you on an essential Fuhlerian note: his 1999 masterpiece "More Gauze". You will never hear the word "gauze" the same again; you will never hear someone say "Doctor!" as a sentence the same ever again. His music is like that: you remember it because it makes the world a richer place.

Andrew Choate - July 18, 2022