The World Won't Listen was Iain and Jane's first live art event. It was also their first experiment with the diametric status of the 'tribute band'. The event, a 'mock gig', took as its starting point the music and legacy of The Smiths - one of the most revered English bands of the 1980's, and included a performance by The Still Ills.
"One Friday night last November, artists
Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard presented 'The World Won't Listen'.
This was a one-night-only, live art performance at 30 Underwood Street,
which took the form of a gig by The Still Ills, a Smiths tribute band.
The artists described it as a 'mock-gig' even though it had all the
ingredients of a real one, but then again I guess it also had a few
others, too." More...
"What is not real, I ask, about this
gig - this band even - for the fans? 'But we cannot cling to the old
dreams anymore. No, we cannot cling to those dreams.' And yet, in
amongst this ecstatic abandon, stood the art crowd - a mock-crowd?
- concentrating on the scene, trying to understand it. Put to shame,
rather, by their lack of passion. And so our opposite expectations
became manifest through reception: the art coterie were self conscious
, distanced and alone, while the fans were engulfed, swept away, part
of the crowd, the band and the music." More...
The event notably succeeded in challenging notions of artifice and authenticity, but also, through the immediacy of the live experience, amplified the tensions between pleasure, obsession and ironic distance. The event took place in a basement in the east end of London, and was attended by many Smiths fans as well as a traditional 'art' audience.
"The stage was invaded. 'Morrissey'
was kissed. 'He' threw flowers. They threw them back. There was a
collective will that this was actually HIM, the God of obsession himself...
Only my I'm-watching-performance-art attitude kept me from singing
out loud... Indeed by the end of this paradoxical night, I found myself
rueing the fact that, as the band had made their way past me toward
the stage, I hadn't reached out and touched Morrissey when I had the
chance. For no reason, other then so that I had. So that I would know
that I had actually, really, touched HIM. 'Am I still ill?'"
The World Won't Listen
22 November 1996