interview with Tore Boe of Origami Republika December 21, 1998
I’m not sure how I can describe Origami Republika, even Tore seems to have a little trouble. I guess it’s a lifestyle about honesty while avoiding naivete. something kind of pure & immaterialistic. maybe the intellectual equivalent of art deco, what people wanted the future to be, not what happened. anyway Tore’s first language is not english so at times the interview may be hard to follow, but maybe you’ll learn something.
QRD – what does Origami Republika stand for as an organization & what is its goal?
Tore – it can all be seen as a word game, a will to provide a functional label under which to make visible the web of interaction & connection between perfectly decent cultural workers with any given interest or background. nothing original, really, only there has been so much individually motivated cock-ups among us who share the basic philosophy of staying alive through living, so some of us thought of using the same name regardless of constellation or preferences. there’re many different dialects in the language of Origami Republika. activities started before the Origami name was even thought of. then we only used Origami for a while, but when some of the early “agents” signed for some techno-releases, it became evident that different suffixes were needed. so Origami Teknika became the first, with Origami Arktika & Origami Replika soon to follow. then it exploded into blast off marginal & highly temporary factions such as Origami Paprika serving dinner & Origami Vodka being drunk. now the snowball is rolling outside my control, as new sanctions willing to perform or record or create under the Origami-banner show up monthly. wor(l)dwide. the sound production is the side getting the most attention, but a lot of work has been put into artwork & installations, political actions, mail art actions, exhibitions, writing, radio broadcasts, street art stunts, internet debates & so on. these activities are even closer to our “almost invisible art of Origami” framework. Origami Republika is no sect of initiated people, no NSK or Temple Of Psychic Youth. it’s more an open forum for expression, diversity & discourse. & using the Origami name-dropping just proves the informal & personal touch of the project, it’s about direct communication. The trouble of promoting Origami Republika in general is that few people are inclusive enough to see even our faintest actions in direct relation to the total concept. it’s hard for many to see that Origami Republika is actually capable of putting out a serious hi-tech release after established standards, & in the next second putting on a totally stupid little nonsense stunt in the corner of a pub. so far there has been no rigid rules, perhaps except a few needless to speak of (thus perfect for provocative targeting and self-criticism). “Agent numbers” are handed out to those interested. so it’s a wordgame, with a sense of realism to it. I only hope the people who want to participate in the future will still keep me updated as they go along, as I’m trying to coordinate & document this, fanatic as I am about details.
QRD – is there actually someone who is artist #1?
Tore – yes, as I recall we handed out the very first agent number to Mr. Jimmy Bergsten of Red Harvest/Terranoidz/Dunkelheit fame, as a part of his birthday present also including an originally destilled & labelled bottle of Origami Vodka. Jimmy A01 has performed with various Origami-constellations, his stage skill & presence as a singer/guitarist is impeachable. that is the funding principle of the “agent number” thingy; to show friends your affection, trust & friendship. That’s how “mystical” the sister/brotherhood is. then we just started recruiting agents as they worked with us; homerecorders, musicians, actors, local tour managers, artists, non-profit culture dealers, photographers, dancers, crafts(wo)men. a few agent numbers have been given as “honorary memberships” as well, & to interacting audience members & nice people at parties. last count shows 148 people on the list. quite a few of them are actually active, many have just been passing, some are not even aware that their names appear on the list.
QRD – how well known are Origami Republika's names out of Norway?
Tore – oh, I really don’t have a clue. we’ve spread hundreds & hundreds of tapes in about all directions. we’ve contributed to a vast load of mail art actions, collaborations, compilations & whatever. almost all our first cd & vinyl editions are deleted now. we do need serious distribution & reissuing of some “core work', but we don’t have the time to do it ourselves, as we’re always lightyears ahead in new projects & constellations. we do have a long list of live appearances, an interesting fact is that many of these have taken place outside Norway. since 1992 various constellations of Origami Republika have travelled through Europe, at least once or twice a year, topping in 1998 with no less than 4 tours. “Easy Media Maximalism” is a key in all Origami-work, but specially regarding touring; we simply put a few effect boxes & small stuff that makes sound in our backpacks, maybe bring along a bass & a cymbal, then we move by train, on interrail-tickets. we did 19 gigs that way just in May. 1997 saw Origami Replika doing 4 dates in England by bus. Origami South Amerika performed some months ago at the Museum Of Modern Art in Buenos Aires. Origami Replika even did a 30 minute phone call transmission to the WKCR 72 hour noise festival in 1997, playing live in Lasse A73's living room for thousands of listeners in New York. as for Norway, we only know of a few stores stocking our produce, but we love many a xerox-catalogue mailorder freak. so a good share of the little we sell in Norway is often imported by the purchaser directly from our labels and distributors abroad. the rest is out on Norwegian labels, & we all sell at reasonable prices directly via mailorder. of course our e-mail activity is also helping out. the free e-zine 068 =83 (ting) now has approximately 450 receivers in all camps. we seldom have the funds to send out too many promo copies of new releases, so we are low on media reviews & thus attention. we rather choose to send a few out to selected allies worldwide, you know, more as gifts. & then they give us their comments & eventual criticism. there’s so many different labels involved in the publishing, most of them running their operations on no-budgets & the usual devotion. we love them. we will never cease to put out expressions on any format, level or label. but again, we hope to get more standard business distribution of the core output, so that I for one can get more time to keep up the small talk & social communication. also all the new factions that are active help us & themselves reaching out to a unique variety of receivers. it’s very cool that more of them will start performing live under the Origami-banner, as that’s the best way of reaching out. I heard a rumour that Origami Pharmaceutika of Minneapolis will tour with enfant terrible Costes this summer. Origami Arktika & Sketch have been invited to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in Canada in July, & ideas are up for related shows, depending on funding. new albums will come out, a zillion new tapes dubbed & released around the world, new exhibition held, etc....
QRD – what's your favorite Swans’ song?
Tore – ha-hah, I was prepared for this, as I know you’ve asked other people that in previous issues of your zine. impossible to answer, but I know you know of my roots-like relationship with them, so what about if I say “Coward” from the Public Castration Is A Good Idea live album, or “The Sound” from Soundtracks For The Blind. maybe even that Swan Jovi track on the Swanic Tooth bootleg 7"?
QRD – does anyone legitimately have any
sort of control of Origami Republika?
Tore – not as far as I know. when asked about any collaboration with Origamists, the answer is usually “COOL! go ahead! let’s do it!” or “do it yourself!” but that’s only because no enemies have bothered to embarass us, other than a couple of ignorant left & right-wing comments on our seemingly endless naivity & enthusiasm, but those we take as compliments. “control this!” ...vegans vs beef-eaters, drunks vs straight-X, liberal anarchists vs commie controlfreaks, youngsters vs oldtimers, gays vs homophobic virgins, dead vs alive, noise vs silence, wordmen vs birdmen. take control? in charge? not me.... I have no problem admitting that I sort of kicked off this entire scheme (as the earliest work was made under the ThB signature, which of course are my initials). but it has been my scheme all the way through to hope for other people to actually take charge of parts completely without my “personal” involvement, & now I see it happening. it’s a usual problem for all related artistic use of multiple characters, collective names etc. that at some point it usually points back to who started it, defined then dying. as rules show up & labels are set. but in Origami Republika I have seen the rules shift in all kinds of directions outside my control. some involved are going more academic/artistic, some more escapist, others more on a reality-trip, some going political by breaking the law, others set out to break any taboos in their totally anarchist ways. what we have in common is that which separates us, perhaps. sort of sitting on all sides of the table. if you want to talk about a certain Origami-spirit, it’s crucial to understand that almost all the people involved are using the framework merely for side-projects & activities. they are very often more active with their own lives, projects, & careers. this also helps keeping Origami Republika as a mirror in which one can see freedom in its purest sense. it helps keeping Origami Republika as the playground or gameboard as it was intended to be. & then this might reflect onto our personal lives, or it might not. as a devoted maximalist the least I can do is to demand all cards on the table.
QRD – how many live shows/appearances/installations do you have a year?
Tore – oh gosh, more than is healthy, so I personally have to slow it down a bit, working more with specific projects like KA and a new acoustic band line-up in the Arktika vein. some graphical stuff urges to be created as well. & then there is the secret album. & then there is... a lot, I know.
QRD – have sanctions of Origami Republika ever become too hi-fi to seem part of it?
Tore – no, our general fetish with the limited edition home recordings on cassettes or directly mastered cdr's is one thing, we have on the other hand been using highly professional studio equipment in other situations, as with the Teknika and Arktika cd's. ironically, our most expensive studio recording so far, the 1993 Voight Kampf cd, has never been released. it was the one Sub Rosa promised to release back in 1994, but failed to do. maybe it’ll show up one day, as we spent 14 days in a hi-fidelty digital studio to record it. perfection tends to become a generalisation in our days, extremely focussed on technological evolution. Sideeffects of this are damaging to the unpretencious will to create that’s latent in any human being. I know so many people who can’t record before they get “the most updated version of...”, whatever. it’s impossible to speak for all (or even a limited number) of the Origami Republika agents, but I think that recognising the true value of a demo or session recording regardless of sound quality is one widespread thing among us. honesty, in a way, as almost all recodings are made available on cassettes (counting over 170 titles by Origami one-or-the-other & allied cultural networkers), ranging from good quality studio-, home-, & live recordings, via more typical session- & demotapes, to strictly collector’s items, trash documentation, direct recordings & collages. mostly of “experimental” projects in one way or the other, at least there’s little rock, pop, or techno related stuff on the list. but hey, I don’t like to use the term “experimental”, just as little as “industrial”. it’s all about music, creativity, even art. making love to your tape deck is second best to making love to your other loved one. remember that xerox-machines are often placed in public places, making it all more exciting & daring to get a quicky.
QRD – what sanction of Origami do you think will go on to become most famous in pop culture & what sanction most remembered in history?
Tore – fame can be many things, but on the “alternative underground scene” I guess Origami Replika has a fair chance of being played in ten years. their pathetic but precise neo-punk attitude will be remembered, as I think they were a couple of years ahead of “their generation”, something that other people in Origami Republika find a waste to strive for. now is now. that’s the good thing about working with more or less timeless music & creation, you don't have to check your KAlendar to see if your last piece is “popularly ahead”. remember the early futurists & dadaist made noise collages & machine music way back in the twenties. & other people will in another century. history shows that at one point it has to become “trendy” doing what we all do, a commercial breakthrough. maybe I’ll be dead by then, but I don’t mind. ultimately it leads to a new shift where our “pure” spirit is taken on by other individuals & movements. shifting waves of activity & awareness. but I wish for all my friends to stay rich & healthy even if they should cash in bigtime. as for Origami Arktika, Galaktika, & KA I think it’s dependent on distribution if people will remember at all. but we are set on documenting our own scene, using books & the web, a high priority in 1999, as we want to be on point zero around the 10 Year Anniversary in September 2000. then it will all become evident... you bet. but we also have around a hundred tapes out on some 20 different “labels” worldwide, so we’re getting big on the no-budget cassette scene at least. I hope some freak will get a kick ten years from know, as I see what I have gotten from checking out the flip side of countercultural art history. & just how do I know this? out of another Origami key; “first hand experience”. I’ll do to others as others have done towards me. making an effort to be heard, or seen. pure presence. at least something to be remembered by. or just striving to be able to express yourself. dealing with the “Questions Of Otherness & Being”. pointing out the oddities & contradictions & absurdities of life & living, in various contexts, on stage, in action, on a political level, in counter propaganda activities. in short: in life, art, & crime. & it was simple to get into action, as so many others before & after me I just started slipping notes of interest to addresses I found on album covers & in magazines, spending a good part of my limited funds on postage. that’s the investment. the interest rate comes when your mail box starts to fill up with tokens of esteem, interaction, & personal (non-verbal) communication. this is our capital that proves us successful at this stage. Merz Trivialism.
QRD – what's the oddest presentation Origami Republika has ever done?
Tore – also difficult to answer with one incident. oddest for the people involved would have to be the blow-job incident that occured during a Replika-performance in Newcastle in 1997. or Origami Ballistika's secret initiation of the Swans concert, when their final tour lead them to Trondheim with Origami Arktika as support. another strange thing was a film club south of Oslo who called themselves Origami Cinematografika on their official flyer, & no other “agent” have a clue as to who they are. Origami Republika was officially arranging games for children at a family get-together on National Day, much fun. vice versa you have the unforgettable performance by Nils A100 with Origami Replika on a Tolkien theme night, having been given the evil tower of Barad DFCr as a backdrop. Nils A100 cut off his hair, cut open his vinyl pants filled with tomato beans, puking over the floor, placed in the middle of some Origami Ballistika symbol painted silver on black plastic. with Lasse A73, Kelly A34, & Mads A101 creating extreme noise as a soundtrack. I have only seen the video, sadly. our “almost invisible art” actions have definitely been a source to wondering & surprise as we have spread our bugs into serious art galleries, cafes, synagogues, rock clubs, squats, discos, cinemas, streets, big stages, no stages, libaries, on deserted islands along the coast, ad infinitum. uptil now, most actions having a relation to the Origamism have been unannounced, spontaneous & very spur-of-the-moment. now we use the Origami-banner more often in advance, both for promoting our own work, but also for presenting other artists of interest. we use the Klubb Kanin frame for presenting artists like Kapotte Muziek, Deathsquad/Radiosonde/Chapter23, & in April we’ll stage a night with colleagues Arm, Lasse Marhaug Band, Sketch, Ka, Clop Neplat, Bad Kharma, Origami Erotika, & ZooperKool. sadly, as most places, the income of events here is too low to make us able to invite all our friends to visit. we wish we could, though, as there’s always a selected audience who appreciate our efforts. our known & unknown friends. but Norway isn’t exactly a Mecca for cultural affairs at all, too many well-fed & resignated people.
QRD – have you had any interesting dreams lately?
Tore – no. as you know I just spent two months in jail for an ongoing Origami Politika “real life theatre” performance on resisting the military service. confined to a cell, the sensitory apparatus leaves you no kick. just un-sexy restless film noir-dreams, tales of great revenges, scary art shit with meaning. surpressed agression. after having spent a couple of comforting days with my wife, I now have started to dream about the good-old juicy stuff, the hyperdelic scenarios of impossible meetings, uh, I guess I dream mostly in acid colouring. perfect ejaculations. then again, I am so hyperactive in my everyday work, that I need all the dreamless sleep I can get. I need to turn off the “bliss of experiences” button every now & then.
QRD – what country would you most like to live in?
Tore – where the road leads ahead... Italy
is my favourite spot right now, pastafanatic as I am, but there’s still
so many places I haven’t been, so time will show... but I don’t think
my wife Elisabeth (also with fingers in the Origamism) & I will live
here in Norway. it gives me a chill to think about getting old &
slow in such unfriendly grey, humid & cold weather. I don’t like
the winter darkness a bit. I see no romance in it, cold feet &
too much clothes. & sadly enough for us who like to swim in the
multicultural soup, this bad climate reflects on the Norwegian mentality.
these are decades with growing indifference on one hand, & bitter ignorance
growing on the other. it seems a great deal of the Norwegian people
want to further isolate us from reality. we suck the soil dry of
oil, the black blood of the social democratic machinery feeds the Norwegian
minority complex (towards Sweden in particular, & Europe in general).
so I guess in a couple of years Elisabeth & I rather welcome a nice
family from Ghana to rent our apartment after us, then go to settle further
south. my wife has a dream of starting a tiny'n'arty cafe of some
sorts, so Denmark (Humlebek outside Copenhagen) is one dream, or in the
Slovak town of Banske1 Bystrica now that the political situation has improved
a bit. & the third place we could think of settling down would
be in the middle-to-north of Italy. but then again, there’s so many
places outside Europe we haven’t yet been, so life could pretty well take
us anywhere I guess. as long as our grandchildren can visit, &
there is electricity. At least I
QRD – do you think the rise of a homogenous global culture is beneficial or detrimental to art?
Tore – as a zenarchist I’ll say yes! the rise of a homogenous global culture is both beneficial & detrimental to art, & so be it. Social or artistic “movements” are mirages that can somehow point out directions. the rapid exchange of ideas in some ways abolish the need for the lonely genious of older times. but this slight alteration would demand much hard work. this is seeing things from one angle, another angle is of course that the easier access to global communication makes the world bigger, not smaller. it might become easier to feel belonging, as you can seek out who your friends really are via all the accessible links, & I also mean in older ways than the internet. & I think there will be new matters of estrangement. it will always be your job getting through life, where art is only one of the many ingredients. & good cooking is based both on knowing the relationship between the different ingredients you put in, & being aware of the laws of physics regarding time & temperature. you will become a part of the cooking process, but add your personal touch to the final dish. the battle of total individuality sure paid up, now we just have to add some fairly operative damage control to save the pieces.
QRD – is there anything people should be aware of?
Tore – odd question, a quite obvious answer pops to my romantic realist mind: be aware that you stay aware, it’s too easy to slip & slide into escapism &/or cynicism. choose trivialism, it’s the most complex & real role-game around.
QRD – where do you think the future will take either you personally or Origami Republika as a whole?
Tore – personally I’m seeing myself at the age of fifty-five, chilling out in a chair at the local taverna in the middle or south of Europe, zipping a vino rosso with my grandchildren running around in the street outside my transmedia studio, my wife Elisabeth just finishing the tzatziki they made her, & then perhaps I take a nap where I sit, or puzzle my mind further with “how to record onto pasta de la casa”, suddenly remembering something Dylan had told me before he passed on. no need for Viagra. as for Origami Republika, for me it’s most exciting to see at what stage it will end, & if I’ll ever get away from it.
NOTE: much of this interview was done while
mastering a 12 cassette box called Origami Republika; Questions Of Being
& Otherness, that Matthew A116 will put out on his Freedom From ....
Records label in 1999. the box will clearly show the wide span in
the musical languages and dialects, & the total collapse in chronology,
as the box will contain outtakes & sessions from the very start in
september 1990, a bunch of previously unreleased live recordings of the
various factions, along with recent original recordings by new constellations,
from unreleased hi-tech studio work to idiotic musical jokes & radio
A Profile (from 1998):