Craig Schuftan


Der Kultur Club

What to say in front of a Warhol, how to tell the difference between early video art and The Muppet Show, a short history of very long notes, and how to tell if your piano has had enough to drink. Twelve modernist manifestos, ten reasons to love Yoko Ono, five poems in favour of total war, four kinds of irony, three ducks, two sheds, and one radical Grandpa. Fluxus and the Flaming Lips, Duchamp and Dizzee Rascal, Bauhaus and Acid House, Dada and Nirvana. See, hear and learn about all this and more at my monthly Berlin evening, Der Kultur Club: An inspiring, entertaining and 100% jargon-free introduction to modern art and ideas in a cosy cafe. If I called it a 'literary salon', that would make it sound more serious than it actually is. More like the kind of night where you get pleasantly drunk but wake up the next morning feeling smarter.

Unreadable Books and Unspeakable Crimes 
March 2013

Meet Marshall McLuhan - media theorist, troublemaker, and inventor of the phrase, 'the Global Village'. Find out why, over three decades after his death, people are still calling him a prophet, despite the fact that he was wrong about almost everything.

While You Were Sleeping
May 2013

Nobody cares about what you dreamt about. Everybody knows this is true, except modern artists and rock singers, who have spent the last hundred years or more trying to get us interested in that dream they had last night about that burning giraffe alien metropolis invisible businessman holding a bunch of grapes which later turns out to be a galaxy or something. Amazingly, sometimes it works.

Mind The Gap
June 2013

On the widening gulf between art and life, and what Yoko Ono, Ben Vautier, the B-52s and Beat Happening did there.

A Very Brief History of Very Boring Music
July 2013

In 1920, Erik Satie composed a piece of music you could play in the background while people talked and ate dinner. Annoyingly, the first time he performed it, everybody stopped what they were doing and paid attention to the band. The Kultur Club is pleased to report that this problem no longer exists in the world today.

Lady Dada
August 2013

Hannah Hoch, Linder Sterling, the secret life of magazines and the cut and paste revolution.

Dirty Books
November 2013

A pornographer and a purveyor of filth, or a champion of free speech and sexual liberation? While you were pondering that question, Maurice Girodias made a small fortune selling dirty books to lonely sailors. By the time you came up with the answer, he'd spent it all on cars and cognac. That's just the kind of guy he was.

The Actual Ping Pong of the Abyss
December 2013

Meet Antonin Artaud, poet, playwright, amateur percussionist, Balinese gamelan enthusiast, and author of a 1947 radio play that was so damn weird it was pulled off the air and locked in a cupboard for almost fifteen years after it was recorded.





part 1 fear and loathing marina and the diamonds 2

Actually My Name's Marina

"What the audience demands of the artist - really demands, in its unconscious desire - and what the artist thinks it ought to be given... [is] the same thing: the sentiment of being. The sentiment of being is the sentiment of being strong... such energy as contrives that the centre shall hold, that the circumference of the self keep unbroken, that the person be an integer, impenetrable, perdurable, and autonomous in being if inot in action."

marina and the diamonds | the family jewels | identity | personality | realism | authenticity | lionel trilling

WuTang1 e1395794252557

Once upon a time

"Music was now an object that could be owned by the individual and used at his own convenience... Now the Symphony of a Thousand could play to an audience of one. Now a man could hear nocturnes at breakfast, vespers at noon, and the Easter Oratorio on Channukah. He could do his morning crossword to 'One O'Clock Jump', and make love right through the St Matthew Passion. Anything was possible; nothing was sacred; freedom was absolute. It was the freedom, once the cathedral of culture had been wrecked, to take home the bits you liked and arrange them as you please. Once again, a mechanical invention had met capitalism's need to recreate all of life in its image. The cathedral of culture was now a supermarket."

Evan Eisenberg, 1987

wu-tang clan | shaolin | age of mechanical reproduction | aura | ritual | art | artists


Tomorrow's Harvest

"What if I tell you now that I have often longed even for plays I have seen performed - frequently the very ones which bored me most - or for books I have read in the past and did not like at all? If that is not madness, there's no such thing."



Hold to the Difficult

"And you must not let yourself be misled, in your solitude, by the fact that there is something in you that wants to escape from it. This very wish will, if you use it quietly and pre-eminently and like a tool, help to spread your solitude over wide country. People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease, and the easiest side of ease; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult; everything living holds to it, everything in nature grows and defends itself according to its own character and is an individual in its own right, strives to be so at any cost and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it."

Rainer Maria Rilke, 1904

rainer maria rilke | kate bush


Always music in the air

'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'

Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966

pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room


Music Sounds Better

'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'

Susan McClary, 1999

stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition